Posted by: Hil | September 21, 2008

Baked Tofu and Saifun Noodles with Mixed Vegetables

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I like tofu, but I often find myself in a rut when it comes to cooking it. Tofu is a wonderful flavor absorber, but by itself it is pretty bland.  I usually chop it up very fine and cook it low and slow with mushrooms, soy sauce, sherry and sesame oil, then add in other vegetables late in the cook time.  That is one of the only ways I know to ensure that the flavor seeps all the way through.  But given that tofu is so cheap and nutritious, I really want to experiment with other ways to flavor it.  So last night, I gave baked tofu a whirl.

First, I cut a block of tofu into three slices, wrapped them in paper towels, and pressed them between a cutting board and some heavy ramekins.  While the tofu was pressing, I mixed up a marinade of crushed ginger, crushed garlic, soy sauce, sesame oil, chili paste, rice wine vinegar and agave nectar.  I then put the tofu slices in the mixture to marinate.  I probably left them in for about 45 minutes, but I’m sure that they would have been even better if I’d thought to marinate them ahead of time.  When I was ready to bake, I removed the tofu slices from the marinade, placed them in a baking dish, and let them bake for around half an hour at 375 degrees.  I hear that if you bake tofu long enough it becomes crispy on the outside, but I was hungry and in a rush, so I went with a shorter cook time.

While the tofu was baking, I made my noodle dish.  Saifun noodles are clear noodles made out of bean starch.  You cook them by giving them a quick soak in boiling water…a nice thing if you want to have one less pot on the stove.  They are a bit slippery and chewy compared to wheat noodles, but they are great flavor absorbers and they were very satisfying.  If you can’t find saifun noodles or don’t like them, feel free to substitute soba or rice noodles or even wheat noodles.  When the noodles were cooked, I put them in a hot pan with some frozen stir-fry vegetables (convenient and cheap) and the leftover tofu marinade.  I absolutely hate discarding marinades after I use them–it seems so wasteful.  Unfortunately, when you are marinating meat, you don’t have much of a choice.  Since tofu doesn’t have the same food safety concerns, I just saved the marinade and poured it into my noodles, which worked wonderfully.  I just let the pan cook until everything was hot, then served up the noodle and veggie mixture with a block of tofu on top.

The verdict:  Even a short time marinating seemed to work wonders on the tofu.  It was still mild, but definitely flavorful, and combined with the more strongly flavored noodles, my palate was perfectly content.  I also loved the chewy texture that the tofu took on as it baked.  Even the carnivorous husband liked this dish (going back for seconds on tofu, no less!), so I think that this dish will probably be a repeat around here.

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Responses

  1. Thanks for posting how you made the tofu! I am always looking for a new way to make it. It definitely gets crispy if you let it bake long enough. When you are in a time pinch, try throwing it under the broiler! It’s so tasty and the perfect texture.

  2. Gorgeous meal!

  3. Even my picky Argentine husband who loves beef loved it….thanks!


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