Made with organic soybeans, fresh and local Ingredients

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Black Sesame Otsu

photo from
(Ed. note: Yesterday, our illustrious office manager, who cooks, sews, knits, and puruses a lively assortment of other interesting and creative endeavors, pointed me to a fabulous recipe on one of her favorite blogs. We chose to include this recipe on the Tofu Yu blog, not because it is made with tofu (which it isn't), but because it goes so well with tofu. The  recipe comes to us from  Super Natural Every Day: Well-loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen by Heidi Swanson, as posted on her blog, 101 Cookbooks, a delightful collection of delicious and wholesome recipes that Heidi began compiling in 2003. Some come from her numerous cookbooks, others are from friends, or created by herself.)

1 teaspoon pine nuts
1 teaspoon sunflower seeds
1/2 cup / 2 oz / 60 g black sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons natural cane sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce
1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
Scant 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Fine-grain sea salt
12 ounces / 340 g soba noodles
12 ounces / 340 g extra-firm tofu
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

Toast the pine nuts and sunflower seeds in a large skillet over medium heat until golden, shaking the pan regularly. Add the sesame seeds to the pan and toast for a minute or so. It's hard to tell when they are toasted; look closely and use your nose. Remove from the heat as soon as you smell a hint of toasted sesame; if you let them go much beyond that, you'll start smelling burned sesame - not good. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush the mixture; the texture should be like black sand. Alternatively, you can use a food processor. Stir in the sugar, shoyu, mirin, sesame oil, brown rice vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust if needed.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously, add the soba, and cook according to the package instructions until tender. Drain, reserving some of the noodle cooking water, and rinse under cold running water.

While the noodles are cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut into matchstick shapes. Season the tofu with a pinch of salt, toss with a small amount of oil, and cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, tossing every couple minutes, until the pieces are browned on all sides.

Reserve a heaping tablespoon of the sesame paste, then thin the rest with 1/3 cup / 80 ml of the hot noodle water. In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, half of the green onions, and the black sesame paste. Toss until well combined. Add the tofu and toss again gently. Serve topped with a tiny dollop of the reserved sesame paste and the remaining green onions.

Serves 4.
(Ed. note: This would be delicious served beside or beneath some simple sauteed tofu--be it Tofu Yu garlic/pepper, one of our smoked varieties, or the plain firm. Whatever you choose, you've just made yourself a healthy, tasty, and delicious meal.)

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