Sesame Noodles with Tofu, Cucumber & Arame
I’m always on the lookout for quick and easy—and healthy—weeknight dinners. Something I can throw together after I get home from work, in a short amount of time, without a lot of fuss. But I also want something that’s delicious, not something that we’re only eating because it was the easiest thing possible to make. In short, I’m asking for the moon here, people—a dinner that’s quick and easy, but tastes like it isn’t.
These Sesame Noodles fit the bill, perfectly. They’re something that I came up with while craving some take-out Chinese noodles, but (at the same time) wanting something healthier for dinner. Not to mention something simple. Something that would not require a dozen pans and tons of clean-up. So I thought: why not throw together a simple sesame sauce, pan fry some tofu, cook up some fresh, Asian-style noodles? And toss everything together with some crunchy cucumber, arame seaweed, and toasted sesame seeds? Brilliant.
And let me tell you: these Sesame Noodles are as delicious to eat as they are easy to make. Not to mention a seriously healthy alternative to take-out noodles. They’ve quickly become a household favorite around here.
A quick side note: anyone wondering what arame is? It’s a mild, slightly sweet seaweed, that has a firm, slightly crunchy texture. Unlike other types of seaweed, it doesn’t have a strong salt/brine/fish flavor. It comes dried and packaged in many grocery stores, and chances are that you’ve had it at a Japanese restaurant before. Arame is downright yummy in noodle dishes like this one, so don’t be afraid to give it a try!
SESAME NOODLES WITH TOFU, CUCUMBER & ARAME
I used a fresh, chow mein-style noodle here. But soba or udon noodles work work well too. And even regular pasta noodles would work as well—just make sure the noodles are long and thin, like angel hair or capellini.
Serves 2-3 as a main
For the sesame sauce:
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup low sodium tamari (or regular, low sodium soy sauce)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon hot pepper oil
red pepper flakes (to taste)
For the noodles & garnishes:
1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
1/3 cup dried arame seaweed, rehydrated per package instructions, then drained
1/2 cucumber, peeled, de-seeded, and cut into thin strips (see photo)
1 10 oz. package tofu, cut into strips (see photo)
And, of course, 1 package Asian-style noodles (see note, above)
Make the sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl, and stir to combine.
Pan fry the tofu. In a large pan, heat a couple splashes of olive oil. Add the tofu to the pan—in a single layer—along with a couple splashes of tamari (this will season the tofu and add a little extra flavor). Cook for a few minutes, until that side of the tofu is golden brown. Using tongs, flip the tofu, and cook until the other side is golden brown as well (see photo). If, at any point, you feel like the pan is too dry, and the tofu is in danger of burning, simply reduce the heat and add a little more olive oil and/or tamari to the pan. Once the tofu is golden on both sides, remove from the pan and set aside.
Cook the noodles. Bring a pot of water to boil, and cook the noodles according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, add the scallions (reserving a few for garnish) to the pan that you cooked the tofu in. Sauté for a few minutes over medium heat, while the noodles are cooking. Once the noodles are done cooking and have been drained, remove the pan with the scallions from the heat. Add the drained noodles to the still warm pan, along with the sauce. I suggest adding a little of the sauce at a time—not all at once—so that you reach the sauce-to-noodle ratio that’s right for your taste. Toss well so that the noodles, sauce, and scallions are all combined.
Now you’re ready to serve up the noodles. Place some of the sesame noodles in a bowl. Arrange the tofu and cucumber strips next to the noodles, and top with some of the arame (see photo). At this point, you may want to drizzle a little extra of the sauce over the tofu and arame (I did). Sprinkle the toasted sesame seeds on top, and garnish with a few sliced scallions. It’s that easy—enjoy!