Wednesday, July 14, 2010

simple & quick meal: rice noodles with tofu, scallions, and sesame seeds

This dish fed me through finals when I'd gone 3 days in a row living on nothing but pasta and cereal. It's fast, satisfying, and fun to vary depending on what's on hand. And it's not pasta or cereal, so it has that going for it. 

For example, with the scallions, tofu, and sesame seeds, this is actually a complete meal (which is why I tried to eat it when I got in a finals-and-pasta rut), but if you're in a hurry, just the noodles and the sauce are delicious on their own. Or, if you add sugar, the whole thing makes an amazing cold salad -- in the past I've made variations on this salad to carry around on weekend and road trips. The sauce also works great as a tofu marinade, for more salads or to bake for a dish with less oil. 

This recipe is approximate, based on proportions. The quantities are based on what I would make to serve 2 people (I think noodles plus 1 pound of tofu serves 2 people if this is pretty much all they're eating.) 


Basic Sauce: 
2 tbsp soy sauce 
2 tbsp sesame oil 
2 tbsp rice vinegar
(1 tsp sugar, if serving cold) 

Sauce with variations: 
2 tbsp soy sauce 
2 tbsp sesame oil 
2 tbsp rice vinegar
(1 tsp sugar, if serving cold)
1 tbsp black bean paste 
1 tbsp fresh grated ginger, or 1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp white pepper 

Everything else: 
rice noodles to serve 2 
1 lb firm tofu, drained and pressed 
2 tsp red pepper flakes 
peanut oil for frying the tofu 
sesame seeds for garnish 
2 or 3 thinly sliced scallions for garnish 

Drain and press the tofu as far ahead as possible. Cook the rice noodles to packet instructions. Whisk the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. 

Cube the tofu. Begin heating the peanut oil in a heavy skillet or wok. Fry the red pepper flakes until they sizzle, then add the tofu. Wait for a crust to form on the bottom face, then stir. Repeat until every face of the tofu cubes has some texture and are coated with the pepper flakes. 

Drain the noodles and toss with the sauce. Top with the fried tofu, sesame seeds, and sliced scallions. Serve hot or chilled. 

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