Dinner from My Kitchen

February 14, 2011

First things first.  I think I am going to ask you all what you would do with ingredients more often!  The uses you came up with for those pickled raisins were amazing!  Curried carrot dip, on top of pizza with Gorgonzola, baked in squash with couscous and pistachios – I want to make everything.  The winners, picked randomly, are commenters #26 and #18.  Bebe would put them in chicken salad and Stacey would put them in anything with cauliflower.  Congrats ladies!  Contact me soon to get your raisins.

Moving on.

It has been a busy couple of weeks in my kitchen.  Since the beginning of the month, I have taught three classes, cooked a yoga dinner for 24, made a birthday cake for my younger son, and baked cupcakes for my older son’s class.  When typing that out, it doesn’t look like all that much.  But it was a lot, especially coupled with regular old everyday life.

At the end of a long stint of cooking, I sometimes feel like I am done with it.  The thought of chopping anything, turning on a burner, bringing butter up to room temperature, cracking an egg – just too. much. effort.  But then my husband goes out of town and a friend brings her kids over for dinner, and I realize what I really want to eat for dinner is not take-out but my cooking.  And so, back into the kitchen I go.

This Asian-noodles-in-a-broth-with-tofu idea is not new on this site.  It is one of my favorite things to eat in the world.  Each time I make something like this, it is a little different.  I glanced at a recipe from Deborah Madison to get me going in a slightly different direction than I would have if left to my own devices.  Then I totally made it my own.  As with most Asian noodle dishes, soups or otherwise, I would eat this every night without complaint.  If it is still frosty in your part of the country, a bowl of noodle soup warms you like no other.  But this is light and fresh enough to taste right even if your city is thawing.

One Year Ago:  Holly B’s Favorite Cornbread
Two Years Ago:  Vegetarian Caesar Salad and Red Curry with Winter Vegetables and Cashews

Somen Noodle Soup with Spring Vegetables and Baked Tofu
Dana Treat Original
Serves 3-4

This recipe might look a little complicated but it is actually quite quick to make.  You can always double the broth and freeze half for next time. Somen noodles are very thin wheat noodles found on the Asian aisle of your supermarket.  Feel free to use different vegetables in the mix – snow or snap peas would be great.

For the broth
Zest of 1 lime
3 stalks lemongrass, bruised lightly with a knife, then sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2-inch piece ginger, cut into coins
½ of a large red onion, sliced
10 sprigs cilantro
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. light brown sugar

For the tofu
Juice of 1 lime
2 tbsp. soy sauce
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. dark sesame oil
2 tsp. hoisin sauce
2½ tsp. light brown sugar
1-inch piece ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
1 pound extra firm tofu, blotted dry and cut into small cubes

For the soup
6 ounces somen noodles
Vegetable oil
½ red onion, thinly sliced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely diced
1 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated or finely minced
2 medium carrots, peeled and very thinly sliced (use a mandoline if you have one)
Small handful green beans, trimmed and cut into thin slices
5 spears asparagus, ends trimmed and thinly sliced on a diagonal

1 lime, cut into small pieces
Cilantro leaves
Jalapeño pepper, thinly sliced

Make the broth
Put all ingredients except for the soy sauce and brown sugar in a large saucepan.  Pour in 8 cups of water and add a large pinch of kosher salt and a few grinds of pepper.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes.  Cool slightly, then strain out and discard the solids.  Stir in the soy sauce and brown sugar.  Adjust seasoning as necessary.  Keep warm over low heat.  (Can be made two days ahead.  Cool completely, then cover and refrigerate.)

Make the tofu
Preheat the oven to 400ºF.

Mix together the marinade in a medium baking dish.  Taste, making sure the balance is to your taste.  You want it to be salty, sweet, and slightly sour.  Stir in the tofu, coating well with the marinade.  Allow to sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally to make sure the tofu is coated with the marinade.  Place in the oven, uncovered, and allow to bake until all the marinade is absorbed and the tofu is getting a slight crisp to it, about 35 minutes.  Toss the tofu once or twice in the baking process so that all the pieces come into contact with the pan.  Remove tofu from the oven and allow to cool.

Make the soup
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil.  Add the somen noodles and give a good stir.  Watch the pot so it doesn’t foam over.  Cook the noodles until they are almost done, with just a slight bite, and drain.  Rinse well with cold water, drain, and set aside.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add just enough vegetable oil to coat the bottom of the pan.  Add the red onion and sauté until starting to soften, about 5 minutes.  Add the garlic, jalapeño pepper, and ginger and cook for another two minutes, stirring constantly.  Add the green beans, carrots, and asparagus and continue to cook, stirring often, until the green vegetables are crisp tender, about 5 minutes.

Place some noodles in the bottom of a deep soup bowl.  Ladle on the broth.  Add tofu and vegetables and garnish with cilantro, lime, and jalapeño pepper slices.


  1. I’ve been trying to perfect my own noodles-with-tofu-and-veg-in-broth, but this sounds pretty perfect to me. Perhaps I ought not bother reinventing the wheel. :)

    Comment by Rachel — February 14, 2011 @ 8:45 pm

  2. this looks super yummy. i will have to try it one of these days. thanks for the recipe!


    Comment by modern.girl — February 14, 2011 @ 9:04 pm

  3. Noodles, tofu and veggies is one of my favorite meals too!

    Comment by Jacqui — February 14, 2011 @ 10:19 pm

  4. damn you HAVE been busy. Anyone one of those ALONE would put me out of commission for at least two weeks. During which I would probably live on sushi. But eventually I would start to crave pasta again and would meander back into the kitchen.

    You definitely have a thing for Asian noodle dishes, my dear, and it’s a good thing because you do magical things with them. This sounds delicious.

    Comment by Joanne — February 15, 2011 @ 12:31 am

  5. I won I won I won!
    Thank you Miss Dana Treat! I love anything pickled and you know I will put those raisins to good use!

    Comment by stacey snacks — February 15, 2011 @ 2:03 am

  6. I never make asian noodle dishes, but I really must change that soon!

    Comment by Anna — February 15, 2011 @ 3:18 am

  7. Oh Dana – this looks utterly delicious! I could eat this the whole way through summer too.

    Comment by Koek! — February 15, 2011 @ 8:56 am

  8. Have you ever tried smoked tofu? It’s so good, I use it quite often when I don’t feel like making a marinade and waiting a couple of hours. This dish looks as if it would work great with smoked tofu :)

    Comment by Helena — February 15, 2011 @ 2:46 pm

  9. I love, love, love the photos on both of the last two posts. The food looks really beautiful, but also makes me want to eat it–sometimes the beauty is there, but the appetizing isn’t. I’m trying to make my blog shots better–got any quick tips, or must I just keep trying?

    Comment by Nancy Baggett — February 15, 2011 @ 9:49 pm

  10. Wow, you have been busy! I will be trying this one. I wish it was my dinner tonight!

    Comment by Maria — February 15, 2011 @ 11:08 pm

  11. I know how you feel that is how i felt after the holiday of cooking big dinners for two weeks straight. I am a huge fan of Asian Noodle soups. Thai is my favorite with beef and lots of Prik Nam Pla.

    Comment by Delishhh — February 15, 2011 @ 11:42 pm

  12. A Dana Treat original?! Well shoot, I’ve got to try this now :) I’m a little behind in reading your site and have been thinking about you lately…just moved into my own place in Oakland and when I live alone I so often cook mostly vegetarian. After a week of frozen Trader Joe’s dinners, I’m needing a little inspiration. Tag, you’re it! Thanks for such a great recipe. Can’t wait to try it. xoxo.

    Comment by Megan Gordon — February 16, 2011 @ 7:10 am

  13. Nice way with the tofu…I’ve gotta try that. I usually pan fry, but now I’ve got a shiny new stovetop, I don’t like getting it all splattered as much. Funny isn’t it?

    Comment by Ivy Manning — February 16, 2011 @ 8:15 pm

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