I know many of you enjoy the otsu recipe from Super Natural Cooking - soba noodles, a fiesty dressing, some pan-fried tofu for good measure. Well, I did a riff on it the other day. My family met up at Baker Beach, a stretch of sand with a stunning view of the Marin Headlands. With giant pelicans soaring over-head and the Golden Gate bridge just to our right we spent a few hours lounging in the sand, enjoying lunch. Or, in the case of my little nephew, eating sand. The noodles? I tossed soba noodles with a spicy Thai-curry and almond sauce, and topped them with some sauteed tofu and pea shoots.
This is my sister Heather, holding Jack, who is playing peek-a-boo...with himself. I get to see him again tomorrow when we are having a party to celebrate his first birthday.
I should mention, so you don't get discouraged - if pea shoots are hard for you to find, swap in whatever vegetable you like. I was primarily trying to work some vegetable/greens into the noodles, and pea shoots are what I happened to have on hand. Go for something quick-cooking, so you can make it in the same pan as the tofu.
Almond Soba Noodles Recipe
You might want to add a touch more curry paste if you like your noodles on the spicy side. On the other hand, if your curry paste is on the spicy side, you might want to go for a bit less - it is to taste really. As I was eating this I couldn't help but think that some blanched broccoli would be a nice addition or substitution for the pea spouts.
2 teaspoons red curry paste
1/3 cup unsalted almond butter
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
very scant 1/2 teaspoon salt
6 - 8 tablespoons hot water
12 ounces dried soba noodles
12 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu
4 ounces pea shoots (or other greens, or tiny pieces of broccoli)
12 leaves fresh basil, slivered
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted
Make the almond sauce by mashing the curry paste into the almond butter. Stir in the lemon juice and salt. And then whisk in the hot water one tablespoon at a time until you have a pourable dressing that is about as thick as a heavy cream. The dressing thickens as it cools, so feel free to thin it out with more water later on if needed. Taste, and add more salt or more curry paste if you like.
Cook the soba in plenty of rapidly boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water. Drain and shake off as much water as possible.
While the pasta is cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut it into matchsticks or 1/2-inch cubes. Cook the tofu, along with a pinch or two of salt, in a well-seasoned skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Add a tiny splash of oil if needed to prevent sticking. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or so, until the tofu is firm, golden, and bouncy. About 15 seconds before the tofu has finished cooking, add the pea shoots to the hot pan.
In a large bowl combine the noodles with 2/3 of the almond sauce. Toss well, be sure all the noodles get coated. Arrange the tofu and pea shoots on top of the noodles, drizzle with the remaining sauce, and garnish with the slivered basil and toasted almonds.
Serves 6-8 as a side, less as a main.
Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 20 minutes