Wheatless Wednesday – Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

5

20160122_135925

The Japanese have known the health benefits of miso and scallions and have used miso soup to cure the common cold since ancient times, kind of like a vegetarian version of homemade chicken soup. We have all had miso soup in Japanese restaurants, that savory broth with tiny cubes of tofu and thinly sliced scallions  floating on top. Usually, in restaurants we consider it as a small starter before the main courses arrive but in Japan miso soup is a staple and eaten for breakfast and throughout the day loaded with eggs, fish and other garnishes.  So I figure that they must be onto a good thing and decided to create a miso soup that is simple to make but worthy of being a main course for lunch or dinner, and I came up with this Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl. For more on using miso soup to cure the common cold check out this article:  Miso Soup: An Ancient Remedy for the Common Cold by NJ Acupuncturist Robert Vena

20160121_191548

It is delicious and satisfying and can be made spicy or mild depending on tastes.  I simmered bok choy, carrots, snow peas and cubes of tofu in miso broth and then served them over rice noodles.  I offered a selection of garnishes which, in my opinion, really makes the dish.   Not surprisingly, everyone’s noodle bowl looked different.

20160121_185549

What is miso anyway?  Miso is a Japanese word that means “fermented beans”, which are almost always soybeans, although other grains can be added to achieve certain flavors, resulting in many different varieties of miso available.  I used a white miso, which is lighter in color and milder in flavor, however any kind of miso will work just as well.  Miso is a good source of fiber and protein and a great way to increase your nutrient intake while you think you are just adding flavor.  In fact, adding  two tablespoons of miso to a soup or stir-fry, is the equivalent of approximately one-quarter cup of a legume(like lentils).  Miso is also  a very good source of copper, manganese and a good source of vitamin K, zinc, phosphorus, and omega-3 fatty acids.  It also has naturally occurring pro-biotics, those beneficial bacteria that are so good for our bellies.

20160121_192746

TIPS:  Making miso broth is easy but you can also find miso broths already prepared or in dried form that are pretty tasty too.  When purchasing both tofu and miso, make sure they are labelled organic since a wide majority (90% in the U.S.) of soy based products are made from genetically modified soybeans, those dasterdly GMO’s which are to be avoided at all costs. Miso is generally simmered on medium or medium low to prevent the loss of nutrients, so don’t let your soup boil! One last tip, noodles tend to get soft and mushy if left sitting in broth, so add them to the broth just before serving.

20160122_135956

GINGER MISO TOFU NOODLE BOWL

8 oz medium width rice noodles (or soba)
3-4 Tbsn shiro miso (white fermented-soybean paste)
6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste) or more to taste
1 lb extra firm organic tofu
2 carrots, roughly chopped or sliced
1 cup snowpeas
2 bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

TOPPINGS (all optional)
3-4 scallions, sliced into rings
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers(or sweet mini red peppers), thinly sliced into rings
2 Tbsn cilantro, roughly chopped

 

  • Place miso in a small bowl with hot water and stir until dissolved.

20160121_192149

  • Prepare noodles as directed, rinse with cold water and divide among four bowls

20160121_185454

  • Prepare all soup ingredients. Cut tofu into cubes and let drain on paper towels.

20160121_185549

  • Prepare all toppings.

20160121_191548

  • Pour miso and remaining vegetable broth into a stockpot or wide saucepan. On medium heat, simmer carrots for about a minute, then add bok choy, snowpeas and tofu and simmer about five minutes.  Don’t let it boil or some of the nutrients in the miso will be lost.

20160121_192504

  • Spoon vegetables between the four bowls and pour in the broth.

 

20160122_135956

  • Top with radishes, scallions, chili peppers and cilantro, as desired.  Sriracha is also a great spicy addition.

20160122_135925

Ginger Miso Tofu Noodle Bowl

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

 20160122_135925

8 oz medium width rice noodles (or soba)
3-4 Tbsn shiro miso (white fermented-soybean paste)
6 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (or ginger paste) or more to taste
1 lb extra firm organic tofu
2 carrots, roughly chopped
1 cup snowpeas
2 bok choy, sliced in half lengthwise

TOPPINGS (all optional)
3-4 scallions, sliced into rings
3-4 radishes, thinly sliced
1-2 red chili peppers(or sweet mini red peppers), thinly sliced into rings
2 Tbsn cilantro, roughly chopped

  • Place miso in a small bowl with hot water and stir until dissolved.
  • Cut tofu into cubes and let drain on paper towels.
  • Prepare noodles as directed, rinse with cold water and divide among four bowls
  • Prepare all soup ingredients and toppings.
  • Pour miso and remaining vegetable broth into a stockpot or wide saucepan.
  • On medium heat, simmer carrots for about a minute, then add bok choy, snowpeas and tofu and simmer about five minutes
  • Spoon vegetables between the four bowls and pour in the broth.
  • Top with radishes, scallions, chili peppers and cilantro, as desired.  Sriracha is also a great spicy addition.

Meatless Monday – Spicy Tofu with Sauteed Greens

0

Spicy Tofu

Calling all tofu lovers! This one is for you… Even if you’re not a big fan of tofu, this might change your mind. The tofu is crispy on the outside, creamy on the inside, nestling in a bed of gingery greens and topped with a spicy Asian chili sauce. Yum!   I’m still making my way through my CSA box which is proving to be a fun ‘job’.  I wanted to use the beautiful bok choy as well as the gorgeous beet greens that I clipped off of the beets I roasted for yesterday’s salad.  When you buy beets with the greens, it’s kind of like getting two for one (or eating your cake and having it too!). Beet greens are delicious and full of precious vitamins so don’t throw them away! Use the beets for one dish and the beet greens in another.  If you are interested in roasting beets check out this recipe for Roasted Beet Salad with Ripe Peaches and Goat Cheese which gives easy directions for roasting beets.  The salad can be seasonally adjusted or to suite your tastes.

Beet Peach Salad13

I remembered making a really delicious Crispy Glazed Tofu and Bok Choy that I was tempted to make again because everyone liked it so much, but in the theme of New Year/New Ideas decided to give it a bit of a makeover using what I have on hand.  My favorite way to cook  =  a little bit from memory + fresh veggies available + pantry magic + weather outside.  I actually think looking out my window determines a lot about what I decide to make for dinner.  These days I’m craving warm, spicy and comfort foods because it’s so chilly outside.  Soon enough, I will be yearning for cooling salads and refreshing drinks on the patio.

TIPS:  If you don’t have beet greens handy, or you don’t like beets, substitute any somewhat bitter green like mustard, kale, chard or collards.  The length of cooking time will be determined by the coarseness of the greens.  Broccolini is a great substitute for bok choy, just check for doneness by slicing a bit of stem off one end to taste before removing from the pan. I like to make my own sauces but it’s not really necessary, as there are really good ones available. The one below uses an Asian Chili Paste, garlic and ginger which I was really happy with but you can play around with what is available in your pantry.

Spicy Tofu

SPICY TOFU WITH SAUTEED GREENS

1 pound firm tofu
3-4 baby bok choy or small bunch baby broccolini
1 bunch bitter greens (like beet greens, chard, kale, collard or mustard)
2-3 Tbsn high heat oil (like avocado or coconut)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup water
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 Tbsn sesame seeds

SPICY CHILI SAUCE
1 Tbsn Asian chili paste
1 Tbsn fresh ginger, minced (or fresh ginger paste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

Spicy Tofu11

  • Drain the tofu and slice into 6 rectangles. Then cut each rectangle at a diagonal into 2 triangles. Place in a single layer on a layer of paper towels.  Cover with more papertowels and place a heavy pan on top to press out the water.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes.

Spicy Tofu8

  • Combine sauce ingredients in a small saucepan (except red pepper flakes) and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 3 or 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Taste for spiciness and add red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt, if desired. Turn off heat and set aside.

Spicy Tofu12

  • Dry toast the sesame seeds (if desired) in a small pan over medium heat for several minutes until golden.  Set aside.

Spicy Tofu10

 

  • Slice bok choy lengthwise into quarters and rinse.  If using broccolini, just trim the ends and leave whole.

Spicy Tofu9

  • Cut greens into 2 inch strips, keeping any rough stems separate.

Spicy Tofu6

  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and one third of the garlic and ginger over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet or wok, and saute the greens stems  for several minutes before adding the leaves. Saute until softened but still al dente. Transfer to a serving platter.

Spicy Tofu5

  • Add a bit more oil, if needed, plus a third of the garlic and ginger and the water and saute the bok choy until softened and all the water has evaporated.  Transfer to serving platter.

Spicy Tofu3

  • Add remaining oil to the pan and  increase the heat to medium high and fry the tofu until lightly colored. Flip to brown the other side. Transfer to platter with the greens.

Spicy Tofu2

  • Reheat the sauce and drizzle over the tofu and greens.  Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.

Spicy Tofu13

Spicy Tofu with Sauteed Greens

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Spicy Tofu

1 pound firm tofu
3-4 baby bok choy or small bunch baby broccolini
1 bunch bitter greens (like beet greens, chard, kale or mustard)
2-3 Tbsn high heat oil (like avocado or coconut)
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 cup water
3 scallions, finely chopped
1 Tbsn sesame seeds

SPICY CHILI SAUCE
1 Tbsn Asian chili paste
1 Tbsn fresh ginger, minced (or fresh ginger paste)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsn soy sauce
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (optional)

  • Drain the tofu and slice into 6 rectangles. Then cut each rectangle at a diagonal into 2 triangles. Place in a single layer on a layer of paper towels.  Cover with more papertowels and place a heavy pan on top to press out the water.  Let stand for at least 10 minutes.
  • Combine sauce ingredients (except for red pepper flakes) in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat and let simmer for 3 or 4 minutes or until slightly thickened. Taste for spiciness and add red pepper flakes and a pinch of salt, if desired. Turn off heat and set aside.
  • Dry toast the sesame seeds (if desired) in a small pan over medium heat for several minutes until golden.  Set aside.
  • Slice bok choy lengthwise into quarters and rinse.  If using broccolini, just trim the ends and leave whole.
  • Cut greens into 2 inch strips, keeping  rough stems separate.
  • Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil and one third of the garlic and ginger over medium heat in a large, heavy nonstick skillet or wok, and saute the greens stems  for several minutes before adding the leaves. Saute until softened but still al dente. Transfer to a serving platter.
  • Add a bit more oil, if needed, plus a third of the garlic and ginger and the water and saute the bok choy until softened and all the water has evaporated.  Transfer to serving platter.
  • Add remaining oil to the pan and  increase the heat to medium high and fry the tofu until lightly colored. Flip to brown the other side. Transfer to platter with the greens.
  • Reheat the sauce and drizzle over the tofu and greens.  Sprinkle with scallions and sesame seeds.

 

Meatless Monday – Crispy Glazed Tofu and Bok Choy

1

 

Tofu and Bok Choy9

Is tofu good or evil?  You may not be aware but the great tofu controversy abounds! I like tofu and have always thought of it as a healthful protein which is highly adaptable in recipes from stir frys to salad dressings.  However, I keep hearing that tofu is bad for you, evil even, so I decided to check into it. Tofu is a low fat, plant based, good source of protein, yet it is a processed food, in that it is no longer in its original bean form.  The beans have been made into milk, curdled, drained and pressed into blocks.  The more I looked into the great tofu question, the more confusing the issue.  Studies and opinions contradict each other-no surprise there.  Remember when coconut oil was supposed to be so terrible for us and to be avoided at all costs, and now is being touted as having health benefits ranging from weight loss and prevention of  heart disease to making your skin soft and pretty.   Andrew Weil, a well respected natural health and wellness expert, still recommends tofu as part of a healthy diet.   Click on his name to see why.   The Truth About Soy,  another seemingly unbiased view about tofu and soy (loads of information but long article) thinks the problem is not with soy but what we  have done with soy (read Genetically Modified-Roundup Ready).  90 – 94% of soy is GMO but most of that is fed to our food animals or made into soy products like baby formula (which is a different problem)  and not made into tofu.  If the label says organic or Non GMO Project it’s not genetically modified-one more reason to buy organic.   So, what did I come away with?  If you like tofu, eat it.  If you don’t like tofu, don’t.

For those that DO like tofu, here is a delicious recipe for Crispy Glazed Tofu with Bok Choy, which I adapted from Eating Well, March/April, 2014.  This is the perfect way to cook bok choy, which is delicately flavored with garlic and ginger.  The tofu is browned in a skillet first and then sautéed in a flavorful plum sauce. The outside is a bit crispy and the inside soft and creamy.   I reduced the amount of ketchup, since I’m not a ketchup lover, to let the other flavors shine, however, if you are a ketchup lover you can double or triple the amount.  I also added red pepper flakes and ginger paste for more of a zing.  Don’t skip the step of draining the tofu, which gets rid of excess water and allows the tofu to absorb the flavors.  Otherwise this is a very simple and quick meal to get on the table.  Serve over rice if desired.

 

Glazed Tofu and Bok Choy

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

1 14-ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, drained
1/4 cup plum (or hoisin) sauce
1 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice wine (or dry sherry/rice wine vinegar)
2 teaspoons oil plus 1 tablespoon, divided (I like avocado or coconut oil)
3 scallions, trimmed and cut into 2-inch lengths and then ribboned
1 teaspoon minced garlic
2 teaspoon minced fresh ginger, divided
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
4-6 baby bok choy, quartered lengthwise
1/4 cup water
1 tsp sesame seeds
Tofu and Bok Choy7
  • Fold a kitchen towel in half and place on a cutting board. Cut tofu in half horizontally, (and then in half again leaving 4 equal pieces) and set on the towel. Put another folded towel and a weight (such as a heavy skillet) on the tofu; let drain for 15 minutes.

Tofu and Bok Choy5

  • Meanwhile, whisk plum sauce, ketchup, soy sauce and rice wine in a small bowl and place near the stove.
  • Cut the pressed tofu into 3/4-inch cubes and place near the stove.
  • Toast sesame seeds in a small pan over medium low heat for a few minutes, or until they turn golden brown.

Tofu and Bok Choy6

  • Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add scallions, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring, for 30 seconds. Add bok choy and cook, turning, until bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Add water, cover and steam until tender, about 2 minutes. Transfer everything to a plate. Wipe the pan dry.

Tofu and Bok Choy4

  • Return the pan to medium-high heat, add the remaining 1 tablespoon oil and heat until shimmering. Add the tofu in a single layer. Cook, without stirring, until starting to brown, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir and continue cooking, stirring frequently, until brown on all sides, 6 to 8 minutes more. Add the sauce; cook, stirring, until the tofu is well coated, 1 to 2 minutes.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve with the bok choy over brown rice, if desired.

Tofu and Bok Choy2