“Okay. Well, I know what I want for lunches this week!” Betsy said as she tried her first bite of the new soba dish I had just dreamt up.
There were some particularly fresh mangoes at the store and I thought they would work well stirred into a spicy soba dish.
This dish is really simple to make. If you can make pasta, you can do it. It was delicious slightly warm for dinner, but also great cold the next day.
If you double the recipe, you’ll have lunches for an entire week!
Yield: Serves 2 as a meal or 4 as a side.
8 ounces soba, cooked, rinsed with cold water, and tossed with a drizzle of sesame oil
1 mango, diced
8 ounces extra firm tofu, seared
1/4 red onion, sliced thin
Handful of cilantro leaves
1/3 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup safflower (or other light) oil
1 lime, juice only
2 tablespoons sesame oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
1 clove garlic, minced
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1) Whisk together dressing ingredients and set aside. You may not need all of the dressing for the soba.
2) Cook soba according to package. Once done, drain, rinse with cold water, and drizzle with a bit of sesame oil so it doesn't stick.
3) Press tofu block under some weight for a few minutes wrapped in paper towels to press out some moisture. Then cube into 1/2 inch cubes. Sear tofu over high heat with a drizzle of oil until it is seared well, about 6 minutes.
4) Add tofu to soba and toss with some of the dressing.
5) Slice mango into two halves, leaving the large seed in the middle. Take each half and cut a grid into it and then turn it inside out. Cut off mango pieces.
6) Add mango pieces to soba and top with red onion slices and fresh cilantro. Drizzle with extra dressing and serve warm or cold.
The Tofu Prep
The hardest part about this recipe is cooking the tofu and it isn’t rocket science. I do recommend finding some extra firm tofu since it holds up a bit better.
Take your tofu out of the container and press it firmly between a few paper towels. Tofu is water-packed and if you try to sear it straight out of the box, it won’t work well.
I usually lay down a few paper towels, then place my tofu block on those and cover it with a few more paper towels. Then I place a cutting board on top with some weight like a bowl full of water.
After a few minutes, the paper towels will be completely soaked from all the moisture pressed out of the tofu.
Then you can just dice up the tofu. I recommend a pretty small dice for this recipe… 1/2 inch cubes works well.
Add the tofu cubes to a few tablespoons of neutral oil (vegetable, safflower, etc.) and cook them over medium-high heat until they are lightly browned on each side.
It should take around 8 minutes to get some nice browning. Tofu is pretty hard to overcook though so don’t worry about it.
Once the tofu is browned, take it off the heat until you need it.
If you look through the archives here, you’ll notice that I use a similar but different dressing every time I make a dish like this. The honest reason for this is because I just make them up.
For this particular version, I used these ingredients.
Just whisk together everything in a small bowl and it’s ready to go.
One note: If you are planning on using this recipe for lunches for an entire week, you might want to leave out the clove of garlic in the dressing recipe. After sitting for a few days the garlic gets pretty intense and afternoon garlic breath will be a problem.
I also really encourage you to taste and adjust this dressing recipe. Make it taste good to you. If you want it spicier, add a bit more pepper or some hot sauce. If you want it more acidic, add a bit more vinegar or lime juice. You get the idea.
Soba is quickly becoming one of my favorite ingredients. These days you can find it at most grocery stores, but it’s sometimes hidden way down on the bottom shelf in the “Asian” section.
There will sometimes be different kinds, but any of them will work for this recipe. Just cook it according to the package.
When the soba is done, drain it and rinse it with some cold water which will stop the cooking. Then toss it with a drizzle of sesame oil to keep the strands from sticking to each other.
Toss the soba with the tofu and some of the dressing.
You might not need ALL of the dressing that this recipe calls for. Start with maybe half of it and adjust to your liking.
There are three simple toppings for this noodle salad. Most importantly: The mango.
Mangos can be kind of hard to prep because they have a hard shell and then are slippery. Peeling them and trying to slice them is a recipe for a mess. Instead, cut off the large halves from the mango, leaving the seed in the middle (that piece in the background). Then make a grid on each mango half and flip it inside out.
Then you can just slice off the cubes and add them to your salad.
For other toppings, I just finely sliced some red onion and also washed some fresh cilantro.
Toss everything together and you are in business.
I can think of about a million occasions to use this recipe. It would be great for a picnic since it doesn’t really need to be refrigerated.
Give this a shot if you are in any sort of meal rut. It’s an awesome summer dish.