Soba Noodles and Tofu in Cilantro-Tamarind Sauce

I had a craving for soba noodles tonight and no time to stop by the grocery store, so my ride back to Brooklyn was spent ticking through things we already had in the fridge which might be soba noodle worthy.  My result was inspired by Heidi Swanson’s post on her blog, (you can find Heidi’s recipe here).

soba with cilantro tamarind sauce

The result was chewy soba noodles and pan fried tofu coated in a fresh, vibrant cilantro sauce with a tinge of tangy tamarind, onions and tomatoes.  Next time I’ll add a sweet, ripe red bell pepper thinly sliced to the mix.

Soba Noodles and Tofu in Cilantro-Tamarind Sauce
~makes about 4-6 servings~

3 cloves garlic
1 tomato, chopped
2 green chili peppers*
1/2 yellow onion, thinly sliced3/4 to 1 bunch of cilantro – leaves and stems:
1 package of extra firm tofu
1 1/2 tablespoons tamarind paste
1 package soba noodles (I used Annie Chun’s because that’s what our local grocery store carries)

Masala Rack:
Sea salt to taste

*The number of green chilis will vary depending on how much heat you can handle and how spicy your peppers are, so be careful.

Making the Sauce:
1. Combine the garlic and chilis in a food processor until they are finely chopped.
2. Add the cilantro and half of the chopped tomatoes to the processor and pulsate until the cilantro mixture looks pesto-like.
3. Cook the onions in a saucepan and when they become translucent, add the other half of the chopped tomatos.
4. Whisk the tamarind paste with ~1 cup of water in a separate bowl. When the tomatoes look like they’ve melted, add the tamarind water and bring to a boil.
5. Add the cilantro mixture and let the cilantro-tamarind sauce come to a low boil.

Making the Tofu:
1. Squeeze the excess water out of the tofu by placing the block between two paper towels and gently squeezing the water out.
2. Cut into bit size squares and fry in a hot skillet with a little oil until golden on each side. I sprinkled a little kosher sea salt on the tofu – this gave them a salty pop once they were in the bowl with the noodles.

Making the Noodles:
1. Cook the soba noodles according the package.
2. After draining, pour the cilantro/tamarind sauce over the noodles and toss in the tofu.

I decided to use the cilantro leaves and the stems – the stems pack as much flavor as the leaves and I decided there was no harm in using the stems since we’re going to pulsate the cilantro. Cilantro is pretty dirty though, so discard approximately the bottom 2 inches off and wash the cilantro thoroughly. I wash cilantro by putting it in a bowl full of water and swishing it around. The dirt settles the bottom of the bowl.

R was a little jealous that I made these while he was traveling, so he took them for lunch when he got back. They heated up pretty nicely in the microwave and the tofu actually tasted better after marinating in the sauce overnight.

6 responses to “Soba Noodles and Tofu in Cilantro-Tamarind Sauce”

  1. i tried this recipe tonight and it was a big hit :). i think next time i will add some more veggies, like the red bell pepper you suggested.

  2. This sounds delicious and looks great too! Thanks for the idea, I am going to try to make it myself and hopefully my family will enjoy it, which I know they will.

  3. this sounds really good & I have a jar of tamarind paste languishing in my refrigerator. do you know how long it keeps? also, my girlfriend hates cilantro (sad, I know) — do you think flat leaf parsley would be any good in here, or would you just leave it out entirely?

    • @KateLynn – I think it keeps for a pretty good amount of time. I haven’t tried parsley but would give it a shot. I think if you leave it out, the sauce might be too tart from the tamarind. Leave me a comment and let me know how it turns out.

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