toasted sesame noodle salad w/nori-crusted tofu

toasted sesame noodle salad w/nori-crusted tofu

I’ve got warn you before you click through or scroll down to today’s recipe. The ingredient list is 23 items long. 23! I know, it’s ridiculous, but I swear the recipe isn’t as complicated as it looks. The most complicated thing about it is making sure you have enough clean bowls to work with. In fact, of those 23 ingredients listed below, 5 are repeated. Let’s do some quick math here. That makes a grand total of…18 ingredients. Ok, that’s still a lot. But it’s not as bad as it seems. Everything took 30 – 40 minutes of active time. Not that bad!

It’s no surprise that I’m making a noodle salad. We all know that I love a cold noodle salad. This is yet another variation. I think this is my new favorite, though. The cabbage, scallions and sugar snap peas add enough vegetable matter to not feel guilty about the noodles, and the spicy peas and toasted sesame dressing gives everything a rich, decadent feel.

The Nori-crusted tofu was also amazingly, surprisingly good. I’m not sure I’ll prepare tofu another way again. Even if you think the rest of the recipe is crazy – try the tofu. I’m serious. My husband raved about it. He raved about tofu. He who hails from the meat-eating Midwest. He who is obsessed with chorizo and lamb and pork and burgers. If you like Asian food, try the tofu. You will thank me.

It’s also a really well-balanced meal: vegetables, protein, good fat (peanuts), whole grains (brown rice noodles) and rich nutrients (Nori). So, without furhter ado, I present Toasted Sesame Noodle Salad with Nori-Crusted Tofu.

Toasted Sesame Noodle Salad with Nori-Crusted Tofu

For the marinade:
1 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. shoyu
1 tsp. honey
1 tsp. grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp. dry ginger)

For the dressing:
3 tbsp. shoyu
2.5 tbsp. toasted sesame oil
6 tbsp. unseasoned (brown) rice vinegar
juice of 1/2 lime
1 tbsp. honey
1 tsp. grated ginger (or 1/2 tsp. dry ginger)

1 tsp. canola oil (or High-heat Canola cooking spray, such as Spectrum)
2 sheets nori, cut into thin ribbons about 2 inches long
1 block tofu, drained*

1 tsp. canola oil (or High-heat Canola cooking spray, such as Spectrum)
1 tsp. Sriracha (or a big pinch of red pepper flakes)
1 lb. sugar snap peas, washed and trimmed

6 cups Napa cabbage, thinly sliced
8 oz. very thin brown rice noodles (or rice vermicelli), cooked**
1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup chopped basil
1/4 cup chopped mint leaves
1 cup raw redskin peanuts

Marinate the tofu at least 2 hours before you cook it, but preferrably overnight. In a medium-sized resealable container, whisk together the sesame oil, Worcestershire sauce, shoyu, honey and ginger. You will only have enough liquid to barely coat the tofu. Although not as liquid as a traditional marinade, this is ok. Next, slice the tofu into 1/3-inch thick slabs and add to the container. Place the top on the container and gently shake it so that the liquid covers all the tofu evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Before you start cooking, make the dressing by whisking together the shoyu, sesame oil, rice vinegar, lime, honey and ginger. Set aside.

Heat a large, heavy skillet over medium heat and add the canola oil or spray the pan with cooking spray. Add the sugar snap peas and the Sriracha (or red pepper flakes) and sautee them for 4 – 5 minutes, or until they’re crisp-tender and just brown. Remove to a bowl but keep the pan on the heat.

Add more canola oil or cooking spray to the hot skillet. Spread the Nori ribbons out on a plate. Using your hands, take each piece of tofu and press it into the Nori ribbons. Some ribbons should stick to each tofu piece, but each piece will only be half covered in ribbons. This is fine. Add each piece to the hot skillet as you go. If you have extra Nori, sprinkle it over the pan. Cook the tofu for 6 minutes on each side, making sure not to disturb them as they cook. Each side should be browned and slightly crisp. Once they’re done, remove the pan from the heat.

In a large bowl, combine the rice noodles, cabbage, scallions, basil and mint. Toss until everything is evenly distributed, then add the dressing and toss again.

To serve, place a heap of noodle salad in the bowl, add some sugar snap peas, a small handful of peanuts and a few pieces of tofu.

*To drain the tofu, place a folded paper towel on a plate with the block of tofu on it. Layer another paper towel over it, then top with another plate. You can also put a can on the top plate to ensure the excess liquid is all drained.

**Place the noodles in a large bowl and cover with boiling water for 15 minutes. They’ll be just the right amount of done at this point. To save time, I like to fill a large bowl with water and microwave it until the water boils (5 – 8 minutes depending on your microwave), then submerge the noodles in that. This way, you only have 1 bowl to wash. Once the noodles are done, drain them in a colander and run some cold water over them to stop them from becoming too mushy. Set aside. (Note: You make want to cut the noodles with some kitchen shears because they tend to be very long and make for some slightly messy eating. Just know that the Chinese are superstitious about noodle length and extra long noodles signify good luck!)

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3 Comments

  1. Your hubby is a human garbage disposal—he eats everything!!!!!!!!!!!! HA HA

  2. This sounds fantastic! It’s not that I don’t like tofu, I just never cook with it and rarely eat it. BUT, I’m going to make this dish. And I’m sure it would be really good with shrimp or chicken!

  3. Hi Marsha – It would be equally good with chicken or shrimp – go for it!

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