Sometimes Sticky Sweet Tofu is Just What You Need
I’d like to have a round of applause for the cook, long lost to history, who first combined saucy tofu with a nest of tender noodles. There are few things so simple and yet so sophisticated at the same time. These sticky sweet tofu cubes tossed with whole wheat linguine are crushably delectable, and only take minutes to prepare.
Building a Sticky Sweet Sauce with No Refined Sugar
In my version, I took a recipe that is often made with ketchup and swapped in pure maple syrup and tomato paste. That way, I could get all the glossy’sweet/tomatoey goodness without a does of high fructose corn syrup. I made sure there was a glorious amount of fresh garlic and ginger, and added them after the tofu was golden brown, so that there was no chance of burning.
I also went with whole wheat noodles, because whole grains are my thing. I don’t have any problem with carbs or wheat, but I do like to steer toward nutritious and fiber-rich whole wheat pasta. Of all the whole grain foods, whole wheat pasta is the easiest to adopt, even for people who think they only like white.
Tofu Is an Ancient Food
I also opted for extra firm tofu. In a wok dish like this, you want tofu that won’t crumble and fall apart. In general, after teaching classes and serving tofu to hundreds of people, I have found that most Americans like extra firm tofu. People who didn’t grow up in a tofu-loving culture are often a little hesitant to fall in love with tofu, and I get that. That makes a chewy, firm tofu a good starting point, since it has the heft that people expect from proteins.
Frying the tofu cubes is also a great way to add more texture, by giving them a golden shell that soaks up sauce and becomes chewy. As always, I have to tip my hat to the cooks who have been cooking with tofu for a couple of thousand years, because tofu really shines after a spin in a hot wok.
Sticky Sweet Tofu is Even Good Cold
Your typical stir-fry is best the moment it is done, but these noodles are a great leftover. I know- I’ve made them over and over, and thoroughly looked forward to eating leftovers the next day. Sometimes the noodles soak up the tamari, and need a little sprinkle to bring back the seasoning.
So heat up that wok and get your sticky, sweet tofu groove on. Everyone will love it.
Sticky Tofu and Noodles with Cucumber Salad
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 3 tablespoons tamari more to taste
- 1 tablespoon Gochujang chili sauce
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
- 1 pound extra firm tofu pressed
- 8 ounces whole wheat linguine or wide rice noodles
- 2-3 tablespoons avocado oil
- 4 large scallions diagonally sliced
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons organic sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 large cucumber sliced
- In a medium bowl, stir water and starch, then stir in tomato paste, maple syrup, soy sauce and Gochujang. Reserve.
- Mince garlic and ginger, reserve. Press tofu, then cube.
- Cook the pasta.
- In a large wok or skillet, heat oil and fry tofu until browned. When golden, add garlic and ginger and stir for a minute, then stir in the sauce mixture. When the sauce boils and thickens, add the cooked noodles and turn and stir to coat. Serve sprinkled with scallions.
- In a medium bowl, stir the rice vinegar, sugar and salt. Add cucumber and toss to coat, let stand for at least 10 minutes, and refrigerate for up to a week.