Hoisin Soba Noodles and Tofu

After I am done reading magazines, I like to flip through and tear out any recipes that may be in some of the articles or advertisements, and then I place the recipes in a 3-ring binder. Over the past few years, I have collected so many recipes I have 3 binders filled now. As I was doing some cleaning, I decided to flip through one of the binders and found a recipe from the March 2008 issue of Health for Hoisin Chicken with Soba Noodles. I basically had most of the ingredients, and decided to loosely base my dinner off of the recipe.

Soba noodles are thin Japanese noodles make of buckwheat. These noodles can be served either hot or cold. Because of their dark color, I thought they would have a heavy flavor, but I was surprised to find their flavor and texture to be as light as regular pasta. The one thing about cooking soba is that it's important not to just time their cooking, but also taste them, because they can go from just right to too mushy in a matter of minutes.

Hoisin sauce has a complex almost barbecue sauce-like flavor. The soba and tofu can be quite bland, but the hoisin adds complexity and assertive flavor to these plain ingredients with little effort. Initially, I was turned off by the combination of hoisin and mustard, which is another ingredient in this dish, but once I tasted them together, I found that they accentuated each other. The hoisin is sweet and slightly smokey, and the mustard balances those flavors with an acidic bite.

Even though I loved all of the components of the recipe, my favorite part was the peanuts because of their crunch. They also added a pop of nutty flavor at the end of each bite that cut through the zestiness of the noodle sauce. I wouldn't have enjoyed this half as much without the peanuts!

Here's something to keep in mind while you're broiling the tofu: while you're broiling, your broiler may get too hot and shut off, thus taking forever to broil the tofu. To solve that problem, here's a tip I learned from Alton Brown, who hosts the show Good Eats on Food Network. Alton suggests making a little aluminum foil rod and inserting it into the door before closing it, thus keeping the door cracked and keeping the broiler on. This would be a great way to use aluminum foil that's already been used for another purpose and is already crinkled up. Hooray for reducing and reusing!

Hoisin Soba Noodles and Tofu

1 lb extra firm tofu
1 cup vegetable broth
4 tbsp soy sauce
8 oz soba noodles
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha hot sauce, or to taste (optional)
1 tsp spicy mustard
1 1/2 cups shredded carrots
1/2 cup scallions sliced on a bias
1/4 cup finely chopped unsalted dry roasted peanuts

1. To remove the excess liquid from the tofu, remove the tofu from the package and place it on a plate. Place another plate on top and add a weight, like a big canned good or a full tea kettle. Press the tofu for 20 minutes and discard any liquid that comes out.
2. Combine the vegetable broth and 4 tbsp of the soy sauce in a small container.
3. Cut the tofu into 2 fillets by slicing through the narrowest part of the tofu. Place the tofu in the broth mixture and marinate it in the fridge at least 1 hour or overnight.
4. To prepare the soba, bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the soba and cook according to package directions. In the last 3 minutes of cooking, add the carrots.
5. Meanwhile, cover a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place the tofu on top. Heat the broiler and broil the tofu by placing it on a rack that is at least 8 minutes from the heating coils. Cook the tofu until it browns on one side; flip. On the second side, baste with one tbsp of the hoisin. When the hoisin begins to darken and have a crackly texture, flip again and baste with another tbsp of hoisin. Cook until this side darkens and the hoisin looks crackly, then remove and cut into 16 slices.
6. Drain the soba and carrots and return them to their cooking pan. Place the noodles on the hot burner they were cooked on, however turn the burner off. Add the 1/4 cup hoisin, 2 tbsp soy sauce, hot sauce, mustard, and scallions and toss until the scallions begin to wilt.
7. Place some noodles on each plate, top each serving with 4 slices of tofu, then sprinkle with the peanuts. Serve immediately.

Servings per recipe: 4
Per serving:
Calories: 405
Fat: 10.8 g
Saturated fat: 1.9 g
Cholesterol: 1 mg
Sodium: 1364 mg
Carbohydrates: 62.6 g
Fiber: 4.1 g
Sugar: 10.1 g
Protein: 21.7 g

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