Tuesday night, we had a potluck dinner for our monthly vegetarian meetup. The dish I made for the last potluck (the dish that shall not be named) was a bomb, so I was really hoping that I could make something that was really tasty this time around.
As with most potlucks, it’s best to take a dish that doesn’t need to be cooked or reheated upon arrival, so I decided upon a tofu noodle salad after perusing recipes over at Mac & Cheese and seeing this one for a Udon Noodle Salad. I’m a bit of an experimenter, so I tend to look at 5 or 10 other similar recipes and pull out the parts from each that I like to form a bit of a Frankenrecipe. Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn’t. Fortunately, based on the fact that copious amounts of this noodle salad were consumed, I’d say this one worked. I also got several compliments that seemed rather genuine. Additionally, I really liked it myself!
I tripled the recipe for the potluck, but I’m going to include only the manageable size ingredient list for you (as in, a side dish for four people or dinner for two).
4-6 ounces udon noodles (approximately)
1 tablespoon high-heat vegetable oil
1 package of extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into small cubes
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 to 1 1/2 tablespoon(s) grated fresh ginger (depending on taste–I like more ginger)
1 tablespoon minced or finely chopped garlic (I use the stuff in a jar)
1 teaspoon chile sauce (that stuff you get in the Asian grocery; add more if you like more of a kick)
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 to 1 cup each of shredded carrots and fresh cucumber cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Salt (preferably ground sea salt)
Cook the noodles according to the package instructions. Drain, rinse with cold water, drain again and set aside. Heat vegetable oil to medium frying pan on high heat for a couple of minutes until good and hot and add tofu. Cook until golden brown on at least two sides, change heat to low and then remove tofu to a paper towel to drain and sprinkle with salt.
Add the sesame oil, ginger, garlic and chile sauce to the frying pan and cook (on low heat) long enough to infuse the oil with flavors. Do not let the garlic and ginger brown and stick together. Remove from heat and add soy sauce and sugar and stir until sugar dissolves.
Scrape the mixture into a mixing bowl (with a flexible spatula) and add the lemon juice. Add noodles in manageable increments and mix to coat with oil. Add carrots, cucumber, tofu, and sesame seeds and mix to combine.