Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Baked Tofu and Edamame
Since the Japan Night dinner was in the middle of a heat wave, we decided to make a cold soba noodle salad with baked tofu and edamame for the main entree. For the actual event, we bought pressed tofu and marinated and baked that, but when I tested the recipe at home, I first pressed my own tofu.
To do this I first drained a package of firm tofu (you can also use extra-firm). Then I lined the bottom of a bowl wide enough to fit the tofu in with paper towel, placed the tofu on top of the paper towel, and topped the tofu with another layer of paper towel. On top of that I placed another bowl and put some heavy cans in it. After 15 minutes you should see a significant amount of water at the bottom of the bowl. I usually drain this off and replace the (completely wet at this point) paper towels and keep pressing for another 15 minutes of so.
The process of pressing the tofu removes a lot of the water in it so when you marinate it, it will soak up a lot more flavor. I marinated the tofu in a mixture of soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, honey, and crushed garlic. After a 30 minute soak in the marinade, the tofu gets baked for about 40 minutes and develops a nice crispy crust while maintaining a soft, almost custard-y center. For this recipe I cut the tofu into half-inch cubes before marinating them so they were almost like croutons, but when I make baked tofu to snack on, I'll usually keep them in bigger slabs.
Cold Soba Noodle Salad with Baked Tofu and Edamame makes 4 servings
For the baked tofu:
16 oz. firm or extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
Press the tofu for 30 minutes (directions above). Cut into half-inch cubes and place in a large Ziploc bag.
Mix together the soy sauce, mirin, honey, and sesame oil. Add the crushed garlic clove and pour into the Ziploc bag, making sure that the marinade covers all sides of the tofu. Marinate for 30 minutes, turning the bag over at least once.
Preheat the oven to 350ºF. Cover a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray or use a Silpat.
Remove the tofu from the bag, discard the garlic, and reserve the marinade for the dressing. Spread the tofu evenly on the prepared baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip them over. Continue baking and flipping every 10 minutes until the total baking time reaches 40 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.
For the soba noodle salad:
8 oz. soba noodles
2 tablespoons of the reserved marinade from above
1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1/4 cup canola oil
Baked tofu (recipe above)
2/3 cup shelled edamame
4 Scallions, finely sliced
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
Cook the soba noodles according to the directions on the package. When done, drain and rinse with plenty of cold water so that it cools down and doesn't stick. Transfer noodles to a large bowl.
Mix together the reserved marinade, rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and canola oil. Pour over the noodles and toss with the baked tofu, edamame, sliced scallions, and sesame seeds.
For the actual event, we also added julienned carrots, red bell peppers, and cucumbers to the salad.