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Kale, Tofu, and Soba Noodle Stir-Fry

Posted Oct 28 2011 11:58am

“Mommy,why are you eating brown noodles and marshmallows?! With LEAVES?!”

Iinsist it is actually Japanese soba and tofu (your cousins Kenji and Hugh loveboth), bright, earthy kale, chopped and briefly blanched, then stir-fried withsizzling nut-brown garlic and ginger, and a salty-sweet sauce.  

My5-year-old conversation companion has left the room to peruse his newHighlights magazine.

Andthat’s ok (for now). I have this great hope that merely observing Mommy (and, occasionally,Daddy) eat tofu, kale, buckwheat noodles and the like will make the Nickstermore open to experimentation in another year (or two, or three), despite hispresent incredulity that such things are edible.

Nowback to the dish. As a quick dinner when hot, or served cold—perhaps with somesteaming miso broth alongside—for a delicious lunch, these kale and tofunoodles are perfect for crisp, chilly, autumn weather (which, as of yesterdaywe finally have in East Texas—praise be!). The earthy flavor of the buckwheatnoodles and the robust flavor of the kale sit perfectly with the crisp-creamybites of stir-fried tofu, and the garlic and ginger sing with deep, nuttywarmth. A squeeze of lime lifts up the rustic tones of the primary ingredients toa fresh level of homespun sophistication.

‘Brownnoodles and marshmallows,’ indeed.
The quick sauce for this stir-fry is Indonesian kecap (pronunced ketchup); it is a sweet soy sauce, with distinct molasses-like undertones. It can be found in Asian grocery stores , if you are lucky enough to have such options nearby (or have remembered to order some in advance ). If you have no such luck on either count, you can mix up my quick mock version using regular soy sauce (tamari is lovely, too) and dark molasses.
Both the kale and the noodles are quickly softened in a bath of boiling water. Be sure to set your timer (4 minutes!) to avoid overcooking the noodles (soggy soba is sad, indeed) and to keep the kale a brilliant emerald green.Quickly drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking.

Kale, Tofu, and Soba Noodle Stir-Fry

Makes 4 dinner servings

If you are aiming to prepare this dish gluten-free, take care in selecting your soba: read the label to make sure the noodles are 100% buckwheat (which is naturally gluten-free); some brands are a mix of buckwheat and wheat flours. Eden Foods is one such gluten free brand of soba. Additionally, choose a gluten-free soy sauce. Kikkoman , for example, now makes a gluten-free soy sauce that I've already spooted in my local supermarkets (shelved with the other soy sauces).

1bundle dried soba (4 ounces)
1bunch curly kale, cleaned, tough stems removed, and chopped
114-oz package extra-firm tofu
1/3cup (Kecap) manis (sweet Indonesian soy sauce) or my Super-Quick Kecap (below)
1/8tsp cayenne (more or less to taste)
4tsp dark sesame oil, divided use
2tbsp chopped peeled fresh ginger
2cloves garlic, minced
Limewedges for serving

1. Put the noodles and kale in alarge bowl; cover with enough boiling water to cover. Let stand 4 minutes.Drain in a colander and rinse with cold water.
2. Drain the tofu, then cut into1-inch cubes. Place cubes on paper towels (or dish towels), pressing down toremove any excess moisture.
3. Heat a large non-stick wok or panover high heat. Add 2 tsp of the sesame oil and when smoking, add the tofu inbatches, browning on all sides. Remove and set aside.
4. Heat remaining 2 tsp sesame oil,then stir-fry the ginger and garlic until golden. Add the greens and noodlesand toss well. Add the tofu, kecap, and cayenne; cook and stir 1-2 minutes untilheated through. Serve with lime wedges to squeeze over.

Super-Quick Indonesian Kecap

Makes about 1/3 cup (as needed forrecipe above)

3-1/2 tbsp reduced sodium soy sauce
2 tbsp dark (cooking) molasses (notblackstrap)
Optional: 1/4 tsp ground star anise

Whisk all of the ingredients in a small bowluntil blended.
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