By Ani Arambula
Soba noodles are a good choice for diabetics and people watching their carb intake. I use it in place of spaghetti in Italian dishes, and for cold noodle salads as well as for chicken noodle soup. I have tried a lot of different soba noodles from 100% buckwheat to buckwheat/whole wheat blends. I prefer the texture of the blends and my favorite by far is the Hakubakubrand of organic noodles.
For the heat in the tofu sauce, I used harissa because that’s what I had on hand. Feel free to use Sriracha, chili paste, or any hot sauce you like or even a pinch or two of crushed red chili pepper flakes.
I left the bok choy split in half for the photo. For presentation, this is really quite lovely but you might find it easier to eat if after caramelizing, you remove to a chopping board and rough chop before adding to soup bowls.
- 15 ounce block of extra firm organic tofu
- 6 cups organic vegetable stock
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon yellow miso
- 2 scallions, white parts only (save green tops for garnishing)
- 1 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled
- 1 star anise
- ¼ cup Mirin (Sweet Cooking Rice Wine)
- ¼ cup lite rice vinegar
- ¼ cup low sodium soy sauce
- 1 - 2 teaspoons harissa (see head note)
- 1 clove garlic, put through a garlic press or finely minced
- ¼ teaspoon grated fresh ginger
- 2 packets of organic soba noodles (180g total - these are my favorite and come three packs to a package)
- 2 tablespoon canola oil, divided
- 4 baby bok choy, rinsed well, sliced in half lengthwise
- ½ onion, thinly sliced
- 1 (3.5 ounces) package fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
- green tops from scallions, sliced on the bias, for garnish
- sesame seeds, optional for garnish
- Slice tofu in half. Place on a towel lined plate. Cover with another towel and place second plate on top. Add several cans to the plate to weight it down and allow the water to be pressed from the tofu for at least 30 minutes.
- Add all the broth ingredients to a large sauce pan and place on medium low. Allow to simmer while tofu is pressing and the rest of the ingredients are prepared, at least 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place all the ingredients for the tofu sauce in a medium bowl and whisk to combine; set aside.
- Remove weight from tofu. Cut tofu into 1-inch cubes. Spray a large rimmed baking sheet with cooking spray. Spread tofu out on tray making sure tofu cubes aren’t touching. Bake for 8 minutes. Remove from oven and flip. Bake for an additional 8 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer tofu to sauce bowl, tossing to coat well. Allow to sit in the sauce for 5 minutes. Spray the baking sheet once more with cooking spray and use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to the baking sheet, spreading the tofu out so the cubes aren’t touching. Return tofu to oven and bake for 6-10 minutes or until the tofu is caramelized to your liking and crunchy on the edges. Remove from oven; set aside.
- Fill a stock pot with water and bring to a boil. Add soba noodles and cook for 4 minutes. Remove soba and rinse well under cool running water; set aside.
- Heat a skillet over medium high heat. Drizzle in oil and when oil is hot but not smoking, add bok choy cut side down. Allow to cook undisturbed for 5 minutes or until starting to caramelize; remove from pan and set aside. Add remaining oil to pan and when hot, add onions. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes. Add shiitake and cook an additional 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from pan to a small bowl and set aside.
- When ready to assemble, divide tofu, noodles, bok choy, and onion mixture between four large soup bowls. Ladle hot broth over the noodles and vegetables, dividing broth evenly between bowls. Garnish with chopped green onions and sesame seeds. Store leftovers individually, heating each up separately and assembling when ready as instructed here.
Ani L. Arambula is an award-winning visual artist who works as a Senior Page Designer and Art Director for a newspaper by day and spends the rest of her time as writer, recipe developer, food stylist, photographer, videographer, and sole creative force behind the website, Confessions of a Foodie (www.confessionsofafoodie.me). Her articles, recipes, food styling and photography have been published in The San Diego Union-Tribune, UT-San Diego, Tree.com, NestFresh.com, theKitchn, SND.org, NoshOnIt, and a few other newspapers around the country. Ani’s other passions include spoiling her cocker spaniel, family-time, DVD collecting, the occasional glass of wine with a good friend, and a damn fine cuppa joe.