If you define summer as “school is out”, then this is the first week of summer in our house. If you define summer as “sunshine and warm temperatures”, then we are still waiting. This year, summer looks a little different for us. Spencer’s preschool, the one Graham attended until he started kindergarten, goes all year. There is no summer break except for a few days in August just before the official school year begins. Which means that I have never had to make alternate summer plans for my kids – they just kept to their schedule at that sweet little school.
This year, Spencer will spend the summer in the beloved orange room of his school and I have found a fabulous day camp for Graham. They go outside three times a day, go swimming twice a week, and go on a field trip every week. (This week he will go to the Pacific Science Center which Spencer calls the Terrific Science Center and Graham calls the Perfect Science Center. I don’t bother to correct them.)
Unlike during the school year, I will have both boys home with me on Tuesdays and Thursdays. There are so many fun things to do in Seattle during these long days and I hope we get to a bit of everything. I know we will have lots of lunch dates.
We don’t take our kids out for dinner that often but we do lunch out quite a bit. One of their favorite places is a noodle joint called Boom Noodle. The kids menu stars a bento box with fruit, rice, edamame, and tofu (or meat). The boys get a huge kick out of it and usually clean their plate, er, box. I always get the same thing there – a soba noodle salad with a super spicy wasabi kick.
I’ve been meaning to make this at home for a long time and when I found mizuna at the farmers’ market, I knew it was time. I have no idea how to recreate that spicy dressing – it’s really more like a wasabi relish that is dabbed over the top, so I just left it off. This tofu comes from another noodle bowl creation and I have to say, it is my very favorite way to eat tofu. Even if you think you don’t like it, give it a try.
Three Years Ago: Turnip and Leek Gratin
Soba Noodle Bowl with Lemongrass Tofu
Dana Treat Original, Inspired by Boom Noodle
I would have preferred shiitake mushrooms in this dish but I used what I had on hand.
For the marinade:
2 inch pieces of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 garlic clove, minced
2 stalks lemongrass, outer leaves removed, minced
6 tbsp. soy sauce
3 tbsp. honey
3 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
1½ tbsp. mirin
Zest and juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp. sesame oil
2 tbsp. canola oil
2 tbsp. water
½-1 tsp. red pepper flakes
12 ounces extra-firm tofu, blotted dry and cut into 1-inch cubes
8 ounces soba noodles
1 tbsp. sesame oil
8 ounces mushrooms, thinly sliced
2 medium carrots, thinly sliced
½ an English cucumber, seeded, cut into 1-inch matchsticks
6 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
2 ounces mizuna, or other soft lettuce
Prepare the marinade and tofu:
Mix together all the ingredients except the tofu in a medium size bowl. Taste for flavor balance and add more soy, honey, or lime juice to taste. Put the tofu in a shallow baking dish (an 8×8-inch pan is perfect) and pour about 1/3 of the marinade over top. Allow the tofu to sit for at least half an hour, turning the pieces periodically. You can also refrigerate the pan, covered, for up to one day. Reserve the rest of the marinade. This will be your dressing.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Place the baking pan in the oven and bake until the marinade is absorbed and the tofu is developing a bit of outer crunch, 30 to 40 minutes. Turn the tofu once during baking. Set aside.
Prepare the rest of the ingredients:
Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add the soba noodles and cook until just al dente, tasting to make sure, 5 to 6 minutes. Pour the noodles into a colander and then immediately rinse with cold water. Drain well, then toss with the tablespoon of sesame oil. Set aside.
Heat a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Drizzle in just enough canola oil to coat the bottom, then add the mushrooms along with a large pinch of salt. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the mushrooms are nice and browned and there is no liquid in the pan. Set aside.
Distribute the mizuna across the bottom of three serving bowls. Divide the noodles between the bowls and then add small piles of the mushrooms, carrots, cucumbers, and tofu to each bowl. Scatter the scallions and sesame seeds across the top and drizzle the reserved tofu marinade over everything as a dressing. Pass additional sesame oil and soy sauce at the table.