For the last dinner of 2013, I went back to one of our favorite dinners. Udon noodle bowls with tofu, vegetables and an amazing peanut sauce. This meal always takes me a long time to put together – but the end result is amazingly fresh and worth the effort. (I don’t think it would take everyone as long as it takes me – so don’t get freaked out!)
Vegetables (whatever veggies you are craving, you can use in this recipe. Last night I used broccoli, red, orange & green pepper, mushrooms, carrots, onion, garlic & baby bok choy)
Tofu (one container)
Seasoning (I used paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and a small bit of ginger)
For the sauce:
red pepper flakes
Step One: Take the tofu out of it’s package (carefully because the container is full of water). Pat the tofu with paper towels to dry it off a bit. Place the tofu on a cutting board or another surface that has a clean kitchen towel over it. Place another clean kitchen towel over the tofu, and then put a couple of heavy books on top of the tofu. I usually leave my tofu this way for about 30 minutes (or a little longer depending on what I’m doing while this is going on.) Set a timer for 30 minutes.
… in the mean time, I usually start making the sauce.
Step Two: Put the following ingredients into a food processor. Approximately 1/2 a cup of all natural peanut butter (make sure to stir the jar up!) 3 tablespoons of rice vinegar, between 1/4 to 1/3 C of reduced sodium soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of sesame oil, freshly grated ginger (I always add about 3 tablespoons), 3 teaspoons of honey, red pepper flakes (to taste) and between 1/4 – 1/3 C of warm water (depending on how thick or thin you’d like your sauce). I always blend the base ingredients together and then add a bunch of freshly chopped cilantro – you can add as much cilantro as you’d like. I always add about a handful. I think that might be about 1/3 – 1/2 a cup. The cilantro gives this sauce the best flavor!
Step Three: Back to the tofu. Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Unwrap the tofu. Cut the block of tofu ones down the center, and then cut each of the smaller pieces into thin slices. (about half an inch thick) In a small bowl mix spices together – paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and a small bit of ginger. Place the tofu on the cookie sheets. WIth a pastry brush, brush a tiny bit of sesame oil onto the tofu (each side) and sprinkle with seasoning. Put the cookie sheet into the oven. Let the tofu bake for 15 – 17 minutes. Take the cookie sheet out and flip the tofu. If this side needs more spice, sprinkle on to the tofu slices. Put back in the oven for another 17 minutes or until it gets crispy.
Step Four: Prepare your baby bok choy. Bok choy has a lot of dirt and sand in its leaves. The way we deal with this is by soaking the bok choy in a big bowl of cold water. Shake the bok choy around a bit to agitate the leaves, dirt and sand. That helps the grit come out. Then you can let the bok choy sit in the bowl for a few minutes to soak. Eventually I take the bok choy out and put it into a pot of boiling water to blanch – the bok choy only needs to be in for 45 seconds or so. After the bok choy comes out of the water, but it on a cutting board and chop it up (I like pretty big pieces, so I do a rough chop) but I definitely discard the bottoms of the bok choy, and any leaves that didn’t look great (you can discard these leaves while you are in the soaking process).
Step Five: Bring a pot of water to a boil. (for the noodles)
Step Six: Put about a tablespoon of oil (I used vegetable oil) in a pan. Heat on medium heat, once oil is hot, add your chopped vegetables and cook. Because the bok choy is already blanched, only add this at the very end of the cooking process to heat it back up.
Step Seven: Once the water is boiling, add the udon noodles. (depending on how many people you are serving, the amount of udon you need will change) Follow the cooking instructions on your package of udon.
Finally: Once every step is complete, make up your bowls of noodles! I just add whatever I want – noodles, sauce, vegetables, tofu around the edge, more sauce and scallions on the top for a garnish. (the scallions are sometimes my favorite things!) I also added sriracha sauce on top! Here is the final product:
This is an amazing plate of goodness!! I need to perfect my ability to make this meal, because I really love it! It was a perfect meal for New Year’s Eve because it did not really matter what time we ate dinner (we stayed up pretty late last night!) and I had a good amount of time to cook. Somehow I packed my day SO FULL of activities that I fell asleep on the couch before midnight – but I was woken up so that I could ring in the New Year. I worked half a day in the office, went to Wegman’s to get all of the ingredients for yesterday and today’s meals, ran on the treadmill for 50 minutes, had time for a date at Starbucks with my favorite coffee drinker, and then made our noodle dinner. Yum!
I highly recommend making this when you have some time. It is SO fresh and delicious. If you like the flavors that are in this meal, you will love this creation! Happy New Year, everyone!