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Noodle recipes

Karaage tofu (Japanese fried tofu) recipe with noodles

Prep time 40 minutes | Cook time 20 minutes
serves 4 people

Photography by Tracey Creed
Recipe by Amandine Paniagua and Tracey Creed
Words by Amandine Panigua


Recipe best prepared all year

Published May 7 2021
Updated June 8 2021

Ingredients

450 grams firm tofu
180 grams soba noodles
4 tbsp olive oil
Marinade
13 cup cornstarch
2 tbsp tamari
2 inch, or 5 cm ginger, grated
1 tbsp maple syrup, or sweetener of your choice
14 cup mirin, or cold water
Tofu coating
13 cup breadcrumb
14 cup nutritional yeast
2 tsp onion powder
12 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tbsp sesame seeds
Teriyaki sauce
14 cup sake
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp tamari
To serve
handful of dried shiitake mushrooms
Greens, we used cavolo nero
454 grams edamame, cooked
1 spring onion, sliced
unhulled sesame seeds

Method

Press the tofu for a few minutes to drain out the liquid. In the meantime, cook the noodles according to packaging instructions, approximately 4 minutes. When ready, drain reserving the water and set aside.

Soak the dried mushrooms in noodle’s water for 15 to 20 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon of veggie stock if you feel like flavouring the mushrooms. Meanwhile, roughly cut the tofu into pieces, no need to be perfect.

Add marinade ingredients to a blender, process until smooth. Transfer to a shallow bowl.

In a small bowl combine the breadcrumb coating ingredients and mix well.

To coat the tofu, using tongs or chopsticks, dip each piece in the marinade, then into the breadcrumb mixture, coating heavenly. Transfer tofu pieces to a clean dish.

Cook the tofu in a hot pan with olive oil, in batches, approximately five pieces at the same time. Saute until golden, about 5 minutes. Use tongs to move the tofu around while keeping the coating in place.

Place the tofu on a plate. In the same frypan, add the soaked mushrooms, cook until softened. Add the greens and edamame, and saute for a few minutes until fragrant. Add the noodles, tossing for another minute and set aside.

Making teriyaki is a simple process of reduction. Over medium heat, add your ingredients to a saucepan and simmer. You’ll want to reduce more than you think. Your teriyaki should be super thick and syrupy. Once it starts to noticeably reduce, turn the heat down to a low simmer.

To serve, divide the noodles, greens, mushrooms and edamame between bowls. Add the Karaage tofu and top with spring onion and sesame seeds. Drizzle over the teriyaki sauce. Serve immediately.

This meal will keep up for 3 days in the fridge.

This dish includes my favourite tofu recipe, a vegan version of the classic Japanese Karaage chicken. Here the protein-rich tofu is paired with earthy buckwheat noodles, bright greens, umami dried shiitake and a sweet teriyaki dressing. This bowl is rich, luscious, generously perfect. You can top it with all kinds of food like scallion, sesame seeds, edamame. I love Japanese flavours and could prepare a variety of tofu recipes with noodles every single meal. They are versatile, easy to put together and always taste delicious.

We coupled this tofu recipe with buckwheat noodles for their nutritional benefits, making this bowl easily gluten-free. Feel free to explore different varieties of noodles. Cooking this Asian staple is straightforward. Bring a large pot of water to a rolling boil and add the noodles. Cook for eight minutes or until tender, stirring. Drain the noodles when ready and set aside until your bowl is ready. Mushrooms are rich in antioxidants, while the fresh, leafy greens are an abundance of vitamins. We took the habit of massaging kale in a bowl with salt prior to cooking. It enhances their natural flavours and cooks faster. We love to add edamame, a crispy legume for extra fibre, making this bowl a complete meal with a wide nutritional diversity.

This Karaage tofu recipe can be gluten-free, super easily. Replace the breadcrumbs with gluten-free breadcrumbs, or ditch the breadcrumbs. You will still have a nice golden coating for your tofu, thanks to the cornstarch.

How to cook tofu like a chef

Generally speaking, pan-fried crusted tofu is made of two mixtures, the marinade and the coating. The marinade will help to stick the coating on the tofu. The coating will give a crispy seasoned bite. For this Karaage tofu recipe, we used cornstarch as the primary coating ingredient. To dilute, always use cold liquid, either mirin or water, to avoid lumps. For more authenticity, you can also replace the liquid with sake. In the same vibe, using a small blender on low, you can refine your savoury yeast as much as possible to avoid big lumps in the mixture.

Infuse. The secret to a flavourful tofu recipe is all about the marinade. For this Karaage, we used an umami-rich tamari sauce, ginger and mirin to balance the blandness of tofu. Leave the tofu in the marinade for 5 to 10 minutes before starting to infuse the flavours as much as possible.

Press. First, drain the tofu, then place the block on a clean tea towel, cover and place a heavy cast-iron pan on top for a few minutes. There is no need to press for hours—it is to push out the excess water.

Freeze. Even though this tofu recipe is ideal for the impromptu cook, if you have time to plan this meal, here is another trick: freeze your tofu. Freezing improves texture. The tofu will absorb more marinade, delivering additional flavours and will be spongy like in the restaurants. Benoit does this sometimes, but you can reach a meatier texture by following the double-freezing method.

Freezing tofu is a common practice in the tofu and hospitality industry. To do so, always freeze a brand new tofu block. First, drain and tear into pieces. Place in a container in your freezer and leave overnight. Afterwards, defrost the tofu in the fridge for a day or so. Always defrost in the refrigerator below 5℃, never at room temperature to avoid the development of harmful bacterias. After defrosting, drain the tofu again, pressing lightly, and empty the container from any water. Place again in your freezer and leave overnight. Repeat the defrosting process, then keep in the fridge until ready to consume.

Bake. This fried tofu recipe is not complicated, still requires a bit of practice to fry the crust homogeneously. If you have time, bake the tofu. Place your Karaage tofu pieces on a tray layered with a baking sheet, brushed with one tablespoon of olive oil. Depending on your oven, baking at 200° C for approximately 30 minutes should give good results. Turn around the tofu halfway through to bake heavenly. Enjoy!

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