Sunday, October 9, 2011

Teriyaki Tofu Steaks with Soba Noodles

As is the case for many vegans, I'm sure, I'm always on a quest for new tofu recipes.  Teriyaki here refers not to the bottled sauce, but to the true meaning in Japanese cuisine: the technique of cooking food in a soy sauce marinade.

  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped and peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons sake*
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon dark sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 minced garlic clove
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth
  • 4 heads baby bok choy (1 and 1/2 pounds total)
  • 4 cups cooked soba noodles
  • 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions
  • 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds**
1. Drain the tofu and place between several layers of paper towels.  Place a heavy plate on top of the tofu and let stand for 20 minutes; doing so ensures a nice firm texture to your final product.  If you don't have a plate that's very heavy, try placing a 15-ounce can (soup or beans work great) on top to weight it down.  Cut the tofu crosswise into 4 pieces; set aside.

2. Combine the mirin, soy sauce, ginger, sake, rice vinegar, sesame oil, agave, crushed red pepper, and garlic in a bowl, stirring with a whisk.  Set aside.

3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat.  Add the tofu pieces, and pour the mirin mixture over the tofu.  Bring to a boil; continue to cook for 4 minutes.  Turn the tofu pieces over and cook for an additional 3 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, bring the vegetable broth to a boil in a Dutch oven.  Cut each baby bok choy head in half, and add the bok choy to the pan; cover and cook for 2 minutes.  Drain.

5. Meanwhile, cook the soba noodles according to package directions and drain (start with about 8 ounces uncooked noodles to yield the right amount for this recipe).  Place 1 cup of soba on each of 4 plates.  Top each serving with 1 tofu piece.  Spoon 1 tablespoon of the mirin sauce over each tofu piece, and sprinkle each serving with 1 tablespoon green onions and 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds.  Finish off each serving with 2 bok choy halves.

*As is the case with wine from grapes, sake (rice wine) is often filtered through animal byproducts - most commonly isinglass, from fish.  Since it can be hard to track down individual producers and find out how they filter their product, I bypass the problem entirely by buying sake nigori (unfiltered).  It will be clearly labeled as such, and you'll also notice a fine white sediment in the bottom of the bottle.  Problem solved. 

**Quickly toast your sesame seeds in a skillet over medium heat for about 3 to 4 minutes, until the sesame seeds are fragrant and lightly browned.

Nutrition Info:
4 servings (1 cup soba, 1 tofu piece, 1 tablespoon sauce, 1 tablespoon green onions, 1/2 teaspoon sesame seeds, 2 bok choy halves), Calories 331 

Tasting Notes:
Let me first say the tofu was wonderful - it had the dense, concentrated texture of store-bought baked tofu, which I wouldn't have believed I could replicate so well at home.  The glaze on the outside had just the right hints of sweet and spice.  The rest of the dish, alas, needs definite improvement, and is the reason my rating tonight is so low.  1 tablespoon of sauce per serving was nowhere near enough.  I recommend making a double batch of soy sauce mixture, and tossing the soba noodles with the second batch, so they are flavorful.  As is, they are plain and bland.  I also recommend steaming the bok choy longer; they were too crisp and a touch bitter after only a two minute steam.  I also found that the raw green onions sprinkled on top had too much of a bite; I would stir-fry in a little sesame oil next time before sprinkling on top. 



  1. I love your ratings. I love that it leaves the recipe up for interpretation and that you also include what you might do to improve the recipe if you are not satisfied. Yours is a very modest and humble approach. Love.

  2. Thank you thank you! Did you try this recipe with my recommendations for improvement? I was, sadly, disappointed in the original :(