Black Sesame Otsu Recipe

The Black Sesame Otsu recipe from Super Natural Every Day - soba noodles and tofu slathered in a thinned-out, salty-sweet black sesame paste, then topped with lots of sliced green onions.

Black Sesame Otsu

I have a couple of things for you today. A new recipe. And a related teaser for something to come later in the week - a sampler PDF of six recipes & photos from Super Natural Every Day. The sampler includes some of my favorite recipes from the book, and I'm excited to be able to get some of the recipes into your hands. Finally!

Black Sesame Otsu Recipe

Take a peek above to get a sense of what the sampler is going to include. I'm including the recipe for Black Sesame Otsu in this post, down below. For those of you who liked the otsu recipe I included in my last book, I did this new version with a twist. I still use soba noodles and tofu, but everything gets slathered in a thinned-out, salty-sweet black sesame paste, and then topped with lots of sliced green onions. As a side note, the black sesame paste is pretty great on all sorts of other things as well - salads, spinach, roasted potatoes, green beans. Go to town with it.

Huge thanks to each of you who've pre-ordered the new book. I mean it, I feel fortunate to be able to work on projects like this. Ten Speed made a real effort to keep the price point reasonable, so the book is accessible to many. It is $13 on Amazon, and there are a list of alternate retailers on this page as well.

Black Sesame Otsu Recipe

One last late-breaking, book-related note. It looks like Super Natural Every Day is going to be published in the UK & Australia simultaneously with the US version. More news to come when I know more!

Other favorite noodle recipes include: this incredible vegan ramen, my favorite pad thai, and sriracha rainbow noodle salad. Pasta with Smashed Zucchini Cream is also really good, or browse this list of tasty noodle soups!

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Black Sesame Otsu Recipe

The black sesame paste I use here has become one of my standbys. I typically make extra for use on salads, broccoli, spinach, green beans, edamame, even roasted potatoes. You can make the black sesame paste a couple days in advance, if needed, and it's fine to use white sesame seeds if that's what is available to you. Lastly! Otsu leftovers make a great next-day lunch.

1 teaspoon pine nuts
1 teaspoon sunflower seeds
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 60 g black sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons natural cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
Scant 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Fine-grain sea salt
12 ounces / 340 g soba noodles
12 ounces / 340 g extra-firm tofu
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

Toast the pine nuts and sunflower seeds in a large skillet over medium heat until golden, shaking the pan regularly. Add the sesame seeds to the pan and toast for a minute or so. It's hard to tell when they are toasted; look closely and use your nose. Remove from the heat as soon as you smell a hint of toasted sesame; if you let them go much beyond that, you'll start smelling burned sesame - not good. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush the mixture; the texture should be like black sand. Alternatively, you can use a food processor. Stir in the sugar, shoyu, mirin, sesame oil, brown rice vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust if needed.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously, add the soba, and cook according to the package instructions until tender. Drain, reserving some of the noodle cooking water, and rinse under cold running water.

While the noodles are cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut into matchstick shapes. Season the tofu with a pinch of salt, toss with a small amount of oil, and cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, tossing every couple minutes, until the pieces are browned on all sides.

Reserve a heaping tablespoon of the sesame paste, then thin the rest with 1/3 cup / 80 ml of the hot noodle water. In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, half of the green onions, and the black sesame paste. Toss until well combined. Add the tofu and toss again gently. Serve topped with a tiny dollop of the reserved sesame paste and the remaining green onions.

Serves 4.

Excerpted from Super Natural Every Day, to be published by Ten Speed Press, Spring 2011.

Prep time: 15 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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I'm so excited for your new book! Can't wait for the tutti-frutti crumble. That sounds fantastic!

I'm really looking forward to the release of this book and have pre-ordered by copy! Hurrah for a simultaneous publication for Australia!. Thanks for sharing the sampler menu.

Looks delicious, Heidi. Congrats on Super Natural Every Day. I'm excited to try this recipe as I am in love with black sesame seeds!

What a wonderful blog that I'm sure to use a lot! But what is mirin? HS: Hi Tg, Have a look here.

I'm so excited for your new cookbook! I bought your first one in college & since then you've inspired me to start my own healthy eating blog! Thanks for being such an inspiration & great resource on whole foods. HS: Thanks for the nice note Erica. Looking forward to checking out your site.

Heidi: You might want to add The Book Depository (in the UK) to your list of places where people can pre-order your book. They don't charge for delivery to Canada and the US and other countries as well. And since you have an international following... HS: Thanks for the tip Gilda, I'll look into it.


my compliments!!!!!! the recipe looks delicius!! i have tryed the farro-risotto of previous post. it was faboulous!!! i gess this time as well!!!!! thank you

I can't wait to try it! I have some friends over for a girl's night next week I think I'll make it for them. Thanks. Sabrina.

Heidi, I just love your style... your recipes, photos, writing... all fantastic! I pre-ordered your book for myself for Valentines Day!! Waiting with bated breath...


What typefaces were used for the sample menu? Particularly the sans serif, but the others as well. Sorry, this question isn't about cooking. The typefaces are beautiful. Thanks. HS: Not sure off-hand Karen, I'd have to ask Toni what she used here.


I have just pre-ordered. Looking forward to it... HS: Loving your recent photos Sam.

Thank you for this yummy looking recipe. I've ordered Super Natural Every Day, and this will keep me excited until I receive my copy in the mail.

Kathleen Curran-Cheng

Looks delicious. I love the addition of cayenne to give it some extra heat. The thin strips of tofu, instead of the typical cubes, are a nice way to mirror the shape and bite size of the noodles, too.

Heidi, A nonessential question: did you change the posting font to Helvetica? It looks terrific - clean and clear like your recipes. HS: Hi Andrika, Wayne helped me change the entire site over to fonts using TypeKit. Glad you like the update, I like how crisp it looks as well :)

Andrika Brown

Looks delicious! Also loved your recipe that was printed in Food & Wine magazine this month! HS: Hi Adriane - yes, I was excited to see that as well! Here's the link for anyone else who is interested in that recipe, it'll also be in the new book.

WOOOHOOOO! I just about peed my pants with excitement when I saw this recipe, not to mention the teaser! It's stunning and so full of goodness! The only change I would make is to use maple syrup instead of cane sugar (it comes out of our taps here in Canada, you know). THANKS!!!! :) HS: Sounds like a delicious substitution Kristine :)

I've made your Otsu recipe from Super Natural Cooking many times, and absolutely love it - so I know I will also adore this Black Sesame version. I cannot wait to get my hands on my pre-ordered copy of Super Natural Every Day, and am excited to get a sneak peak with your sampler menu. Everything sounds fantastic!

One more quick question: what kind of pan do you use to prepare the tofu? I've just been using a stainless steel skillet. I find my tofu (when sauteeing) sticks, but haven't been using my cast-iron skillet--is that what you use? HS: Hi Maegan - I use my stainless steel skillet or sometimes cast-iron. If you're having trouble with sticking, try resisting the urge to toss the tofu until a good, golden skin has formed where the tofu touches the pan. You can then typically run a metal spatula between the two w/o sticking. If you're still having trouble, use a touch more oil. And also, use the firmest tofu you can find. Hope this helps!

Wow! I don't think I would have ever tried black sesame seeds otherwise, but I'll have to stop by our co-op and pick some up. Thanks for the nudge (and inspiration!)

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