Saturday, August 11, 2012

Weekend Cooking...Sesame Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables

I was in the supermarket last week and noticed, in the 'ethnic' section, all these different sorts of dried Chinese noodles, that I had not really seem before. So I bought some. I had no plan in mind, just thought they were interesting. But then I was home and wondering what to do with them. Wonder...wonder...
So, I looked around the World Wide Web...WWW as the kids call found all sorts of ideas, enough to make your head spin. The Chinese, in fact many Asian cuisines, love the noodle, in many, many forms. Fresh, dried, wheat and rice, wide and narrow. Noodles, noodles, noodles!

Not for the first time, I fell back on my friends at American Test Kitchen and took some ideas from one of their recipes in Pasta Revolution. Yes, I took some liberties, because cooking, in my mind is not science. IT is art folks..ART!
And sometimes you get a lovely painting and sometimes not, but you have to give it a try!

Sesame Noodles with Tofu and Vegetables

1 1/2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons chunky peanut butter
2 medium cloves garlic, minced or pressed through garlic press 
1 1/2 teaspoons fresh ginger, grated or minced 
2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoons rice vinegar
1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco)
1 tablespoons lightly packed light brown sugar

1-3 tablespoons hot water

8 ounces fresh Chinese noodles or 6 ounces dried spaghetti
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 strips
1 carrot. cut into thin slices
2 scallions
2 stalks bok choy, cut into fine slices
1 recipe marinated tofu
1 tablespoon minced cilantro
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds

Toast the sesame seeds in a medium skillet over medium heat, stirring frequently, until golden and fragrant. Reserve 1 tablespoon sesame seeds in a small bowl.

Heat a tiny bit of oil in a non-stick pan and saute vegetable for just a minute, so still very crisp. Let cool to room temperature as you cook the noodles.
Add the noodles to the boiling water; boil the noodles until barely tender, following label directions for time. Drain, then rinse with cold running tap water until cool to the touch and drain again. In a large bowl, toss the noodles with the sesame oil until evenly coated. 

In a blender or food processor, puree the remaining  sesame seeds, peanut butter, garlic, ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar until smooth, about 30 seconds. With the machine running, add hot water 1 tablespoon at a time until the sauce has the consistency of heavy cream, about 2-3 tablespoons.
In a large bowl, combine noodles, veggies and sauce and toss to combine. Divide among individual bowls, sprinkle each bowl with a portion of reserved sesame seeds, and cilantro if using, and serve.

Serves 4 to 6

This recipe is based loosely on the America's Test Kitchen's recipe for Sesame Noodles but I made a few changes.
The sauce is their recipe, 100%.

But I cooked the vegetables a tiny bit, where as they did not. I wanted them crisp, but not raw.
And I used slightly different vegetables. I added the bok choy, left out the cucumber they used, but really, I think you can use any vegetables you have on hand or really like.
And I added some marinated tofu I made the other day, rather than the 1 cup of chicken in the original recipe. If you don't like tofu, or certainly if you have some left over chicken on hand, that would be great, or you could  just leave the protein out altogether and it would still be excellent.

I will give my recipe for the marinated tofu, if you are interested. And I think you should be!

Marinated Tofu

  • 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 5 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon chili paste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu, cut into triangles and dry fried

In a small bowl, whisk together the rice vinegar, light or dark soy sauce,  sesame oil, sugar, chili paste, and garlic. Cover and refrigerate while preparing and dry frying the tofu. 
First, drain 3/4-1 pound of extra firm tofu from the liquid in the container it comes in. Then cut the tofu into triangular pieces about 1/2 inch thick,  press them between some paper towels and weigh down with a heavy pan. 

After the tofu has drained a few minutes, place the triangles in a dry non-stick frying pan on medium heat, making sure they are laid out flat. Cook until it is golden brown, pressing down firmly on the tofu triangles with a spatula a few times during cooking. You will hear hissing and see the water coming out of the tofu as it cooks, which is the point. Turn the tofu triangles over and dry fry the other side, pressing down with the spatula and cooking until golden brown. Remove from the pan and add the dry fried tofu to the marinade. 
Place the marinade and tofu into a large bowl or resealable plastic bag. Cover bowl or seal bag and refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally to make sure all the tofu pieces are covered. Drain the tofu.

That all sounds a bit more complicated than it is. Cut the tofu in thin slices and fry them in a non-stick pan with no oil. You want to dry them out and brown them up. Mix up a marinade with soy and any sorts of flavors you like, put it all in a zip lock bag and sit in the frig overnight. Easy!


This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. Thanks for the marinated tofu recipe. I want to cook with it more, but it does intimidate me for some reason.

  2. I'm on my way over. And how come I don't own Pasta Revolution? Do I need to own it? Hummm.

    Seriously, though, this looks great. I love noodles too and I love dishes that help me use up whatever veggies I have left over at the end of the CSA week.

    1. why don't you?? if you like pasta, in all it's many forms, it is a great book. of course, since it is from ATK!

  3. I love that you even had fortune cookies. The recipe sounds good except for the tofu.

    1. I do like tofu this way. It changes the texture, makes it drier and firmer and the marinade adds some needed flavor.

  4. This is such an easy meal to make, especially when time is limited.

  5. Yum, this is exactly my kind of comfort food. Thanks for sharing this recipe :)

    1. In my book, anything with noodles is comfort food!

  6. I hope Candace stops on her way over to pick me up! LOL

  7. Your tofu noodle dish looks delicious! I need to check out that book, we love pasta here.

  8. BTW, I updated this post to make the title to Pasta Revolution a link to my review of the book awhile back...good cookbook!

  9. I'm not big on Asian cuisine but my sons enjoy it and your photos look wonderful. I may have to try this.

  10. This sounds and looks great. Have a super week.

    Ps the August edition of Books You Loved on Carole's Chatter is open for entries if you would like to link a book post in about a book you loved

  11. Mmmmm, I love noodles, and this dish looks like a nice summer dish. Sounds like I need to check out a copy of Pasta Revolution. Thanks for sharing. Great photos!

  12. Oooooh - that finished product looks delicious! I need to go out and get sesame oil and a couple of other staples so that I'm ready to cook Asian-inspired cuisine whenever the mood strikes. Thanks for sharing!

  13. I know I know I know I should keep giving tofu a try but I've never enjoyed it the times I have had it. I think it might be a texture thing? The rest of this looks fantastic, though.

  14. Caite, this sounds like a delicious dish. But, I would have to leave out the tofu. Thanks for sharing the recipe.

  15. Haven't had Tofu in years..... but I do love me some noodles !!!

  16. Sending this to my vegetarian daughter - I think she would love it. I'm not a fan of tofu but the sauce/marinade sounds great.

  17. there is a Chinese grocery in the next town. hubby and i enjoy wandering there and finding new items to purchase and try. One week we bought and assortment of small baked goods. no labels, and they sure were delicious. looking forward to trying more.

  18. I've actually never tried tofu, but this looks really yummy. Thanks for sharing.


please speak up, I LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU!!