Friday 24 November 2017

Forkful's easy suppers: Tofu and Noodles

Tofu and Noodles. Photo: Mark Duggan.
Tofu and Noodles. Photo: Mark Duggan.

Aoife McElwain

Tofu gets a hard time in the kitchen. It's an ingredient that many cooks aren't quite sure what to do with. That is, apart from the vegetarians and vegans who already know of its delicious potential, of course.

Until recently, I hadn't quite figured out a way of cooking tofu, apart from full on deep-frying it, that didn't result in a bland let-down. I'm not a fan of the spongy, deep-fried variety you might get in a below-par Asian restaurant. But, not one to give up, I've been determined to find a simple way of cooking tofu at home that might make me reach for it more often, as a meat substitute for a mid-week speedy supper.

Over a recent weekend, a vegan friend came to visit from the UK, and with him he brought his method for roasting tofu. For dinner, I did the veg while he prepped the tofu.

He cut them into cubes and smeared them with a miso paste mix, sprinkling with sesame seeds as he went. He roasted them in the oven until they billowed out like cushions, and we ate them hot from the oven, mixed in with noodles and miso-glazed greens.

And, yes, if you've been following this column, you'll recognise the basis of this miso glaze. I'm still into it! I've been researching how many recipes can be enhanced using this simple mix of miso, mirin and rice wine vinegar, and tofu is most certainly one of those recipes.

For the green veg, I've used pak choi and tenderstem broccoli. Pak choi grows really well in Ireland, and it's very easy to find Irish-grown pak choi in supermarkets. Tenderstem broccoli fries up so well, and its longer stems make it a crunchy addition to a speedy stir-fry.

This supper comes together very quickly once the tofu has had its roasting time, so read through the whole recipe and get all your ingredients ready before you get started.

Tofu and Noodles

Serves 2

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes


2 tablespoons of miso paste

2 tablespoons of mirin

1 tablespoon of rice wine vinegar

1 tablespoon of sesame oil

Half a lime

1 tablespoon of chilli flakes

2 tablespoons of black sesame seeds

250g pack of firm tofu

Sunflower or vegetable oil, for frying

300g of green veg like pak choi and tenderstem broccoli

300g pack of egg noodles


1. In a bowl, mix the miso paste, mirin, rice wine vinegar and sesame oil. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime and mix well.

2. Remove the tofu from its packaging and slice into about 12 cubes. Use a pastry brush to spread the miso paste mixture on to the tofu cubes. You'll have miso paste leftover.

3. Sprinkle the tofu evenly with the chilli flakes. Roll them in the sesame seeds. Place them on a baking tray lined with baking paper, and bake in the oven for about 20 minutes at 200°C/180°C fan/gas mark 6.

4. When the tofu is nearly done, heat a bit of oil in a large wok or frying pan over a medium to high heat. Slice the pak choi into smaller chunks. Add the tenderstem broccoli and pak choi to the pan for 3 minutes. Add the rest of your miso paste mixture to the pan, and stir so that the vegetables are well coated. Turn down the heat and allow the mixture to simmer for another few minutes while you cook your noodles.

5. Cook your noodles according to the packet's instructions. They shouldn't take more than a few minutes to boil in hot water. Drain and divide into two bowls.

6. Put the roasted tofu into the pan with the miso paste and green vegetables. Stir gently so that the tofu gets recovered in more of that yummy miso sauce, before dividing between the two bowls on top of the noodles. Serve with an extra sprinkling of chilli, or some fresh chilli if you like.

This week's storecupboard essential:

Rice wine vinegar: Rice wine vinegar is made from fermented rice wine, used in the cuisines of China, Japan, Korea and Vietnam. The Obento brand range is easily found in most supermarkets, or head to your local Asian specialist shop, such as The Asia Market on Drury Street, for a wider selection.

Irish Independent

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