Being a Jamaican, it is often difficult to transition away from meat, unless you go completely i-tal, as Rastafarians do. They are on a strict vegetable diet and have significantly less sodium in their meals. Although it may seem difficult to do, there are various options available today for individuals seeking the best alternatives to meat that will allow them to eliminate it from their diet while still getting the necessary protein and vitamins. In our meat substitution series, we’ll also look at some great recipes for various types of meat substitutes, beginning with the traditional – tofu.
Tofu can be prepared in a number of different ways. Smoothies benefit significantly from the addition of silken tofu. Firm tofu can be grilled or broiled in the same manner as meat, and chunks of tofu are frequently found in curries or soups. Cooking it in a pan or deep fryer is one of the best methods, as it results in a crispy piece of this meat substitute. This recipe calls for extra-firm tofu.
We will start by making Sesame Soba Noodle Bowl with crispy Tofu. Here’s what you’ll need:
- 1 (3-inch) piece of fresh ginger
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1/3 cup of rice vinegar
- 1/3 cup of tamari or soy sauce
- ¼ cup of well-stirred tahini
- 2 TBSP toasted sesame oil
- ½ tsp roasted pepper flakes (plus more for garnish)
- 1 (12-16 ounce) block extra-firm tofu
- 3 medium carrots
- 3 medium scallions (white and green parts)
- 3 TBSP cornstarch
- 2 TBSP canola or vegetable oil
- 8-10 ounces dried soba noodles
- Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
1 Drain the tofu
Wrap it in paper towels and set it on a dinner plate. Weigh down with a heavy pot or can for at least 15 minutes to drain off even more liquid.
2 Prepare the Ginger and Garlic
Peel and finely grate the ginger (about 3 TBSP) along with the garlic cloves.
3 Place both in a large bowl
Add rice vinegar, tamari (or soy sauce), tahini, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Whisk to combine, then set aside.
4 Remove weight from tofu
Pat dry with paper towels, and slice into 12 cubes. Place cubes into a large zip lock baggie and add 3 TBSP of the sauce. Seal bag and toss to coat all cubes.
5 Let it marinate
Set it aside for 10 minutes to marinate.
6 Prepare the Carrots
Peel carrots and shave them into long, thin ribbons using the vegetable peeler. Thinly slice scallions and set those and carrot slices aside.
7 Use marinated Tofu
Once tofu has marinated, add cornstarch and reseal bag. Toss to coat all cubes. Meanwhile, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.
8 Prepare Frying Pan/Skillet
Heat vegetable oil in a heavy-bottomed skillet (like cast iron) over medium-high heat until shimmering.
9 Cooking the Tofu
Add a single layer of tofu cubes and cook undisturbed until bottoms are deep golden brown (about 2-3 minutes). Flip cubes and fry until all sides are golden brown (2-3 minutes per side).
10 Cooking the noodles
Transfer tofu cubes to a wire rack to cool while you cook the soba noodles. Add one (8-10 ounce) package of noodles to the boiling water and follow package directions to cook. When done, drain and immediately add to sauce (do not rinse noodles). Toss well to coat all noodles.
11 Dishing the food
Add sliced carrots and toss again. Divide noodle mixture between four bowls and top with fried tofu cubes, sliced scallions, and pepper flakes, and sesame seeds (if desired). Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days.