Kimchi Noodles, Put Down the Remote
Happy 2021! Are you ready to take a break from the news and just enjoy some food? These easy Kimchi Noodles with Tofu will grab your attention, with a spark of chili heat and tangy fermented flavors. Turn off the news, sit down with a bowl of spicy noodles, and focus on what’s in your mouth, not in your head.
I promise you’ll feel better.
Kimchi, Gochujang sauce and toasted sesame oil give the sauce for these noodles great depth of flavor, and add complexity with very little effort for the cook. That makes Kimchi Noodles a go-to dish for busy people who want a meal that slaps them to attention.
Ferments add Flavor
One of the great tricks in the prep for this dish is using kimchi brine to flavor the tofu. You’ll wring out some kimchi to chop it, and then use a few tablespoons of the drained brine to briefly marinate the tofu. I didn’t bother to do anything else-no frying, no baking, just a bath in kimchi juice and the tofu is ready to go. I used really, really firm tofu, so look for a tofu marked as “extra-firm” if you can find it.
Gochujang is the Korean hot sauce that’s become popular here in the US, thanks to our love of both Korean food and hot sauces. Unlike your typical chili-vinegar hot sauce, Gochujang is fermented from a mix of chilis, soybeans, and sugar, allowing the bacteria of the ferment to break open amino acids and other chemicals in the ingredients that you would not be able to taste otherwise. I’ve been in love with, or perhaps obsessed with it for a while, and you can try my recipes for Korean Inspired Lettuce Wraps, Kimchi Fried Rice and even a Pizza.
More Vegetables in 2021
This dish is made from plants, from the grains in the noodles, to the beans that were transformed into soy sauce. That’s a given. But whenever I cook, I try to add a few more vegetables. Get that noodle to veggie ratio just right, so it feels like a bowl of slippery noodles, but it’s also a bowl of fresh, crunchy veggies. I love my carbs, and I look at them as the comforting, lovable friends they are. But the veg to noodle ratio should be balanced a little toward the veg side. This dish achieves the right mix, with just enough noodles, and just the right amount of snappy snap peas and crisp carrots.
Kimchi Noodles Save the Day
Keep a jar of kimchi, and all the easy pantry ingredients in this recipe on hand, and you are ready to roll on a busy weeknight. If you don’t have snap peas, or the ones at your store are looking sad, frozen snow peas, thawed under hot water, will do in a pinch. Or just add broccoli or cauliflower.
Kimchi noodles may just rescue you from eating a boring meal, and nourish you quietly while you enjoy the spice. To me, that’s a job well done.
Kimchi Noodles with Tofu
- 1 cup kimchi drained, save the juices
- 12 ounces extra firm tofu pressed
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 tablespoons Gochujang
- 6 ounces whole wheat linguine or rice noodles
- 1 large carrot julienned
- 1 medium cucumber peeled, seeded, sliced
- 4 ounces snap peas strings removed
- 1 large jalapeno (preferably red) chopped
- Drain the kimchee, reserving the brine, and chop the kim chi.
- Dice the tofu and put in a large bowl. Drizzle kim chi brine on the tofu.
- In a cup, whisk the soy sauce, sesame oil, sugar, and Gochujang.
- Cook the noodles, adding the carrots for the last minute to blanch to crisp-tender. Drain and rinse well.
- Add the noodles to the bowl with the kim chee, tofu, cucumber, snap peas and jalapenos. Toss gently and chill until time to serve.