Yid.Dish: Noodles with Spicy Tofu and Peanut Sesame Sauce


I am not a professionally trained chef, but I love food. I love reading about it, cooking it, feeding myself, feeding others, talking about it, buying it, and growing it (presuming it’s not 6 degrees below zero in Chicago). 

One of my favorite cookbooks is Mark Bittman’s amazingly practical: How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food, which features straightforward techniques and an encyclopedic listing of all different types of food.  I’ve found that Bittman’s philosophy holds true to the way I like to cook; quick and satisfying - like his Noodles with Peanut Sauce.

This recipe works as well for a quick meal as it does for entertaining large groups.  I’ve found that the vegetarians at my Shabbat lunch table appreciate a hearty pile of saucy noodles just for them, especially when I add spicy baked tofu for an extra boost of protein.  And as long as I have all of the ingredients at home (most of which I like keeping around in my kitchen anyway), it takes only a few minutes to whip up.  The best part is, many of the items can be substituted or modified. Don’t have tofu? What about seitan or tempeh? Or chicken? Don’t have noodles? Try rice?  Served hot or cold, this dish is virtually impossible to mess up – even for novice cooks.  B’tai Avon!

Noodles with Spicy Tofu and Peanut Sesame Sauce
Adapted from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything.

I often add a vegetable (usually broccoli) to this recipe, which I roast in the oven with a drizzle of peanut oil, salt, pepper, a pinch of sugar and red pepper flakes, while I’m baking my tofu.  The sauce also works well as a dip for roasted or steamed veggies.  Make a batch of sauce ahead – it keeps for about a week in the fridge.

12 ounces fresh egg noodles, or any dried noodles, such as spaghetti
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 cup tahini or natural peanut butter (I like a combination of both)
1 tablespoon sugar (or honey)
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice or wine vinegar
Hot sesame oil, chili-garlic sauce, or other hot sauce to taste
Scallions, chopped sweet peppers, peanuts, or sesame seeds to garnish

1) Cook the noodles or rice as per directions and proceed with recipe. Refrigerate if you want the dish cold.

2) Beat together the tahini/peanut butter mixture, sugar (I use honey and you could use agave nectar or maple syrup as well), soy sauce, and vinegar. Add a little hot sauce and the sesame oil; taste and adjust seasoning as necessary. Thin the sauce with hot water, so that it is the consistency of heavy cream. I like to add chopped peanuts to the mixture at this point.

3) Toss together the noodles and baked tofu (see recipe below) or toss with the tofu alone, or toss over steamed veggies.

This might make too much sauce for your meal. Start with a small amount and save what you don’t need in the fridge.
Now, for some protein. I learned this recipe from a good friend out in Tacoma, Washington. It’s a great way to eat tofu with great texture but without adding fat or having it stick to the pan.

Spicy Baked Tofu

1 package of firm or extra-firm tofu
about 3 tablespoons of soy sauce or a combination of soy sauce and Braggs Aminos
dash of chili oil
1/4 teaspoon fresh ginger

1) Preheat oven to 350

2) Press water out of tofu block and cut into 1/2 inch or 1 inch squares.

3) Put in shallow dish and pour marinade over it. Marinate for anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours. I never have a few hours, so 15 minutes is usually fine.

4) Spread evening on baking tray. I use a Silpat. It’s one of the best things in my kitchen. Don’t have one? Run to the store. Right. Now.

5) Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning once. If you like your tofu softer, bake for less time. Firmer, more.

6) Combine with peanut sauce. (see above)

Once you get the basic idea, both of these recipes have endless variations. You might find this peanut sauce too salty or too thin; adjust it as you go; add some more peanut butter, or a little bit less soy sauce.

Serve immediately. Or chill. Or eat half and take the rest to work for lunch. You get the picture.

Purchase How To Cook Everything: Simple Recipes for Great Food here.

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12 Responses to “Yid.Dish: Noodles with Spicy Tofu and Peanut Sesame Sauce”

  1. Kathryn Says:

    Had to come by for the name alone, but found some great recipes as well. Keep up the good work!

  2. David Levine Says:

    I have personally tasted this incredible creation, and my goodness, it is scintillating. Please, make lots of it. It will make you really happy.

  3. Eli Says:

    Thanks Kathryn. I hope you can try the recipe – let me know how it goes!

  4. Eli Says:

    Hi Dave,
    Thanks for the posting and support! There’s more sauce in my fridge if you’d like some…

  5. Zelig Golden Says:

    I’m going home right now to bust this one out – thanks for the inspiration! And, I’m super psyched we’ll be working on the Food Conference together.

    Good Shabbos!

  6. Eli Says:

    Thanks Zelig! Good Shabbos to you too – I’m really looking forward to the Bay Area next December and to all of the great work ahead of us! Enjoy the recipe.

    - Eli

  7. Rabbi Shmuel Says:

    Aaaah – the Thais that bind us:)

  8. Liz Groothuis Says:

    I’m already trying to figure out which night this week I’ll be able to try your recipe!! :)

  9. Eli Says:

    Hi Liz,
    I’m so glad to hear it! Enjoy and see you soon!

  10. trisha marliesgu Says:

    This sounds great and I cannot wait to try it. It has the elements of a dish I used to make, but has more interesting components.

  11. Eli Says:

    thanks, mom! Nice spelling on Margulies! I’ll make this for you after Pesach…

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