Till about 3 years ago, my knowledge of noodles was only restricted to Maggi Masala and Hakka noodles. It was only in this culturally diverse city of Melbourne, that I call home now, did I open my eyes and ears to an array of noodles. Melbourne houses lots of South-east Asian communities and each has its similarities and diversities. And this applies even to their cuisines.
When you wish to eat noodles in an Asian food joint, you will be spoilt for choice; Udon noodles or soba, egg or rice noodles, thin vermicelli type or flat noodles (the one used in Pad Thai) or even the gluten-free variety. Like me, if you always research your menu before ordering then a Google search is your best saviour.
On one such food adventure, Mr and I came across soba noodles in a Japanese food outlet. As most recipes contained fish, we did not finally eat there. (Mr does not tolerate fish, please remember this if you are ever calling us over for dinner!! 🙂 ) But the soba noodle stuck in my head and I wanted to try it out. These are made of a grain called Buckwheat. It isn’t related to wheat though! And hence gluten-free.
In the Asian stores, you will find a shelf-full of soba noodles; some are 100% buckwheat, whereas some are blended with wheat flour (Only pure buckwheat is gluten free. User discretion advised)
I have tried both the varieties and there is one thing in common. They do not hold up to being stir-fried. For me, it has always been a messy disaster; if you have a secret to throw light on this, please write in the comments below.
The next best thing that I could come up was SOUP! It was a vegan soba noodle soup with lots of veggies. For the protein, I have used tofu.
VEGAN SOBA NOODLE SOUP WITH TOFU
Serves : 2
- 2 bundles of soba (buckwheat) noodles
- 200 grams firm tofu
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- A handful of baby spinach, torn
- 1/4 cup edamame beans (I used the frozen type)
- 1 litre vegetable stock
- 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 2-3 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1/2 inch piece of ginger, chopped
- 2-3 tsp soy sauce (or to taste)
- 2 tsp vinegar
- 1-2 tsp hot sauce of preference
- Salt and pepper – to taste
- Water for boiling noodles – as per package instructions
- Oil – 1 tbsp for sauteing tofu, 1-2 tsp for the soup, and 1/2 spoon per bowl of noodles
- Chilli flakes for garnish (optional)
For marinating the tofu:
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1/2 tbsp vinegar
- 1-2 tbsp Sriracha chilli sauce or any other hot sauce
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- salt (this is optional as we are already using soy sauce)
- pinch of pepper
- 1 tsp sesame seeds
- Preparing the tofu: When you buy tofu, it comes drowned in water. Most importantly, we need to get rid of the moisture. Only then, it will absorb the marination and get sauteed well. Be sure that you are buying the firm or extra firm tofu. Once you remove from the packaging, press it between 2 kitchen towels, place in a colander, and keep some weight over it. This will drain out the water and you will get a nice, porous tofu ready to absorb all the lovely flavours you dunk it into.
- Let the tofu marinate for 15-20 minutes. Then you may cube or slice it and let it cook in some oil. Let each side colour up for 5-7 minutes. Even if the outside gets crisp, the interior stays soft.
- In the meanwhile, cook the noodles as per packet instructions. These noodles generally come packaged as per serving size. Take 1/2 cup from the stock and add to water to make up the quantity of liquid required. Once cooked to the given cooking time, drain and wash under cold water to arrest the cooking process.
- Divide the noodles in 2 bowls and mix 1/2 tsp oil in each bowl. Coating the noodles with oil with help to keep the strands from clumping together.
- In a saucepan, add the oil and saute the onion, garlic and ginger. Next add the remaining stock.
- Season with soy sauce, hot sauce, and vinegar.
- Once you see small bubbles forming at the sides, add the shredded cabbage and the spinach. I do not like cooking the veggies much as I prefer to retain their crunch and colour.
- Lastly, add the edamame beans.
- Check for seasonings and adjust as per taste.
- Ladle the soup over the noodles in each bowl.
- Add a generous helping of the vegetables. Then load up the pan fried tofu.
- In the end, garnish with some red chilli flakes and ENJOY!!
- Substitute the above veggies or add celery, scallions, Asian greens like pak choy, or bok choy.
- Substitute tofu with meat of choice.
- Substitute vegetable stock with stock of choice or if using plain water, plop a stock cube into it.
- For garnish, you can add scallion, bean shoots, or coriander.
This soup is ideal on cold evenings when your soul just needs that pampering. But hey, who sticks to ideals? So go ahead and make this soup whichever day or night of the year you want to. And whenever you do, remember to drop by and leave a comment as I would love to know how this turned out for you.