Savory tofu is braised with a mixture of soy sauce, ginger and black pepper, and served atop a bed of soba noodles with tahini sauce and tender broccoli rabe in this hearty Asian-inspired meal.
I’m just about the world’s biggest control freak in the kitchen. My husband knows this, and he’s apt to point it out on those evenings when I ask him to take care of dinner because “I’m too busy,” but there I am, in the kitchen five minutes later, prepping and edging him out of the way. I recognize this. I just have a certain way I like things done, but it’s not always the right way.
I discovered that fact when my husband first served me this dish, shortly after we first got together. Had we been dating more than a few weeks, I’m sure I would have butted in and made things happen my way, but I’m so glad I didn’t. Honestly, and I’m so sorry if I sound like a jerk, but there’s a little voice in my head that says things like “Hmmm…powdered ginger, when we’ve got a whole fridge full of fresh?” and “That kale needs some sautéeing.” I ate my mental words when the dish turned out to be, like, mind blowingly good.
This dish was inspired by the gingery tofu and kale dish that my husband first prepared for me. I was brainstorming on some new ways to enjoy broccoli rabe when that dish came to mind. If gingery tofu and tahini go well with kale, why not broccoli rabe? And why not try noodles in place of rice? I resisted the urge to overcomplicate the dish, keeping in mind my former temptation to do the same to his dish. The tofu is essentially the same, and it’s some really good tofu. If you think you don’t like tofu, give this version a try. It’s super flavorful and would go deliciously in all kinds of dishes. (I’ve been meaning to throw it into a sandwich.) I did add a bit to the tahini sauce. The original dish used straight tahini, whereas I threw in some lemon and soy sauce here. This is not me being a control freak. This is a result of me taste testing and realizing plain tahini mixed with noodles needed more flavor.
My husband’s reaction was to tell me that this might have topped his original dish. I say they’re tied for first.
Soba Noodles with Tahini Sauce, Broccoli Rabe and Ginger Black Pepper Braised Tofu
- 8 oz. soba noodles
- 1 medium bunch broccoli rabe about 1 1/2 lbs. stems removes and coarsely chopped
For the Tahini Sauce
- 1/4 cup tahini
- 1 tbsp. lemon juice
- 1 tbsp. soy sauce
- about 1/4 cup water
For the Braised Tofu
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 1 lb. extra firm tofu drained, pressed at least 15 minutes and cut into 1 inch cubes
- 2-3 tbsp. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. powdered ginger
- 1/2 tsp. freshly grated black pepper
- soy sauce
- hot sauce
Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook soba noodles according to package directions. 1 minute before cook time is up, add broccoli rabe to pot and stir well. Finish cooking and remove from heat. Drain in a large colander.
Make the Sauce
Whisk tahini, lemon juice and soy sauce together in large bowl. Thin with water until thick but pourable.
Make the Braised Tofu
Coat a large skillet with oil and place over medium heat. Add tofu cubes and cook about 10 minutes, flipping once or twice, until lightly browned in spots. Drizzle with soy sauce and sprinkle with ginger and pepper. Allow to cook another 2 minutes, flipping once to distribute the spices. Remove from heat.
Transfer noodles and broccoli rabe back to pot. Stir in tahini sauce, adding a bit more water if needed to distribute. Divide onto plates and top with tofu. Serve with additional soy sauce and hot sauce.