Friday, 8 March 2013

Cold Sesame Noodles with Crispy Sesame Tofu

As you can probably tell from the title of this post, I had a craving for sesame. And when I crave a particular flavor, you need to not stand between me and my food fix. Why sesame? No idea! But I read a recipe for cold sesame noodles in my "Chinese Takeout Cookbook" and it tickled my fancy. As did a little recipe for sesame-incrusted tofu I saw on Martha Stewart's website (don't ask me how I ended up there). I couldn't decide which one I wanted to try first, so I said "fuck it" and made both at the same time!

Of course, you can make them separately: just make sure to prepare another dish or some veggies to round up your meal, because on their own, they are more little parts of a big picture (unless you are eating alone, in which case, I am sending you Internet hugs). They are also really quick to make (if your tofu is already pressed), so they are really useful recipes to keep up your sleeve for midnight snacks and random cravings.

Tahini is the most exotic ingredient you will need to get for the sesame noodles: it's basically the sesame paste that you use in hummus, baba ganoush and other delicious Middle Eastern dips. It's also one of the earliest recorded condiments in history! There are tahini recipes that date back 4000 years, a little fact I find pretty cool. When you get your jar of tahini, take a few minutes to mix it because the oil tends to separate, and don't forget to refrigerate it once you're done!

If you do not have toasted sesame oil, you can use regular, but hunting down the toasted stuff is worth it: the taste is rich and smoky and just has a little extra "humph" you totally want to experience.

Cold sesame noodles (from "Chinese Takeout Cookbook", modified):
12 ounces dried udon noodles (regular spaghetti also works)
2 tablespoons peanut oil
2 teaspoons minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
2 carrots, peeled and shredded (optional)

3 tablespoons tahini
2 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons Chinese rice vinegar
2 teaspoons chili paste
2 tablespoons sugar
½ teaspoon ground Sichuan pepper (optional)

2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
2 scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced

Bring a pot of water to boil and cook the noddles until al dente, or the minimum amount of time according to package instructions. Drain immediately, rinse with cold water, and drain again. Toss with 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil and set aside. Heat the other tablespoon of peanut oil in a small pan over medium heat. Gently cook the minced garlic and grated ginger until just fragrant, about 30 to 40 seconds.

Remove from the heat and set aside. Prepare the sauce: in a medium bowl, combine the sesame paste, peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, chili paste, sugar, and optional Sichuan pepper. Add 3 tablespoons of water and whisk until the mixture is smooth.

Stir in the cooked garlic and ginger. Pour the sauce over the noodles, add the carrots, and toss. Transfer into bowls and sprinkle with sesame seeds and scallions. You can serve the sesame noodles at room temperature or chill in the fridge for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

I omitted the carrots because I ran out. Shame on me.

Crispy, sesame-incrusted tofu (inspired by Martha's recipe):
1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained and pressed, cut into 8 squares

2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin

1/4 cup white sesame seeds
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce

Mix the marinade ingredients together. Place the tofu squares in shallow dish and cover with the marinade. Let it sit for an hour (up to over night), flipping occasionally. Spread the sesame seeds on a plate. Press both sides of each tofu square into sesame seeds.

In a large nonstick frying pan, heat the toasted sesame oil over medium heat. Cook tofu the tofu squares, until golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes per side, flipping occasionally (use cooking tongs if you want to keep your sesame crust nice!).

Add the soy sauce; continue cooking and turning tofu, until it has absorbed all the liquid, about 1 minute. Serve, cut into fancy little triangles, if you wish.

The final results of both recipes made a quick and filling feast, bursting with that wonderful nutty sesame flavor I had been craving manically. They were also absolutely delicious eaten as a cold lunch the next day, and that kind of stuff is a perfect late-night snack after some partying and drinking!

The sauce for the noodles is gooey and savory and the little chewy bits of sesame tofu complement it very well. Sure, it's not the lightest or healthiest meal ideas, but can all use a little tasty treat now and again, can we? Have a good weekend!

1 comment:

  1. Superb recipe..i am searching for this kind of stuff from many days!