I’m finally back after two weeks of vacation and another week to clean everything off my desk that piled up in the meantime. Although I’m back in Chi-beria (Chicago-Siberia), I still have a taste for the tropics. This recipe hits the best of both worlds – steaming hot noodles with a spicy-citrus flare.
I dare say that this crispy tofu could convert even the most hardened of bean curd critics. It’s crunchy on the outside, tender on the inside and has just enough heat to grab your attention. This is done by dusting the tofu with a mixture of arrowroot powder (which is gluten free but feel free to use corn or potato starch if you prefer), hot smoked paprika, salt and pepper, and pan-frying it in a small amount of toasted sesame seed oil.
Although it tastes like I added sugar to this recipe, the sauce is naturally sweetened from the juice of really ripe and freshly squeezed red grapefruit and orange. And there’s only one tablespoon of soy sauce for 4 servings, so it’s low-guilt in the sodium department as well. The zingy flavor comes from the fresh ginger, garlic and sriracha sauce. Quite a delicious combination!
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 8-ounce package vermicelli rice noodles (or soba noodles)
1 red bell pepper (thinly sliced into matchsticks)
1 bunch green onions (sliced on the diagonal in ¼ inch pieces)
1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu (cut into 32 thin rectangles)
2 tablespoons arrowroot powder (or corn/potato starch)
1 tablespoon hot, smoked paprika
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil (divided)
chopped cilantro garnish
½ cup freshly squeezed grapefruit juice – about 1 large fruit (seeds and pulp removed)
½ cup freshly squeezed seedless orange juice – about 1 large fruit
½ tablespoon fresh ginger – grated into a puree with a microplane
½ tablespoon fresh garlic – grated into a puree with a microplane
1/2 – 1 tablespoon sriracha sauce (or Cholula sauce)
1 tablespoon Braggs Amino Acids (or soy/tamari sauce)
1. Combine the arrowroot powder, paprika, salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Cut the block of tofu into 32 evenly-sized pieces, lightly dust in the mixture and place on a paper towel-lined plate.
2. In a non-stick frying pan, heat 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil over medium-high heat. Place the tofu in a single layer on the bottom of the pan and cook for 10 – 15 minutes, without disturbing, until the underside is golden brown. Then flip and cook the other side, undisturbed, another 5 minutes. Remove from the heat, but leave the tofu in the pan.
3. While the tofu is cooking, cut up the peppers and onions.
4. Prepare the sauce by combining all ingredients in a bowl.
5. Bring 3 quarts of water to a boil and cook the noodles per package instructions (about 3 – 4 minutes). For the last minute of cooking time, add in the red bell peppers. Drain the noodles and peppers – do not rinse. Quickly place 1 tablespoon of toasted sesame oil in the bottom of the still-hot pot, add the noodles/peppers back in, add the sauce and green onions, and toss well. The heat from the noodles and pot gently cook the green onions.
6. Place the noodles in 4 serving bowls, evenly divide the tofu between servings, squeeze lime juice over the noodles and garnish with chopped cilantro.
7. Serve hot immediately.