But this recipe changed my mind. I really, truly think anyone - meat lovers included - will love this. I couldn't believe how delicious it was. I kept saying it tasted like something from a restaurant. If you've never had tofu before, this is a perfect jumping in point. It's cheap too, so if you totally abhor it (which you won't), you can throw out the tofu, just eat the veggies and noodles, and not be out more than $2. Okay? So please try this! It's easy, incredibly healthy, and great for a light dinner or even lunch, it's that easy. Mostly chopping veggies, which is stress-therapy. So MAKE THIS MEAL. Don't be scared by the abnormal ingredients, just embrace them. And tell me what you think!
Fried Tofu with Udon Noodles and Broth
Adapted slightly from a recipe in Christina CooksServes 4
1 leek#, split lengthwise, rinsed well, thinly sliced into half-moons (white and light-green parts only)
1 carrot, cut into fine matchstick pieces
1/2 c. fine matchstick pieces fresh daikon*
4 dried shiitake mushrooms, soaked until tender and thinly sliced
4 c. water
3-4 Tbsp. soy sauce
1 tsp. brown rice syrup+
1/2 c. chopped bok choy
Olive oil, for frying
1 block extra-firm tofu, cut into 1" cubes
4 oz. udon noodles (you could also use fettucine in a pinch!)
Chop veggies - tedious, but fun. Layer leeks, carrot, daikon, and mushrooms, in order, in a soup pot. Add water, cover and bring to boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 15 minutes. Add soy sauce, brown rice syrup, and bok choy, and simmer 5-7 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook your noodles al dente.
Meanwhile (everything's happening at once!), fry the tofu. Heat about 1" oil in a deep skillet over med. heat. When the oil is hot, increase the heat to high and fry a few cubes of tofu at a time until golden brown, 2-3 minutes. Drain on parchment or paper towels. Repeat with remaining cubes until it's all nice and fried and deliciously crispy.
To serve, place some noodles in individual bowls. Spoon veggies and broth over noodles and top with fried tofu and scallions. Serve immediately.
# Cut the leek in half lengthwise, rinse it, then cut off the dark green parts. Slice the rest into thin little half-moons, then dump them in a bowl of water. Swish them around with your hand to release the grit from inside - these are dirty little buggers. Remove the leeks to a towel and pat them dry. Dump out the water and sand.
*Daikon is a long white radish root with a clean, peppery taste.
+Brown rice syrup is a liquid sugar substitute similar to honey but with a different flavor. If you don't have it or don't want to buy a jar just for this, than you can probably sub with agave or honey. I haven't tried it, so I can't guarantee!