Otsu Noodles

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Otsu is a Japanese version of Chinese sesame noodles. Otsu means something strange, quaint, stylish, chic, spicy, witty, tasty, or romantic. All I know is, this dish is delicious. The sauce is so good you could drink it (although I wouldn’t recommend doing so!) It is incredibly refreshing and light, something you can’t often say about a pasta dish. Buy 100% buckwheat noodles if you are staying away from gluten (despite the name, buckwheat is gluten-free). You can adjust the temperature by adding more or less cayenne pepper. I typically serve the otsu noodles warm, but it can be really tasty as a cold dish as well.
Ginger Sesame Dressing:
  • grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 1-inch cube fresh ginger, peeled, and grated or minced
  • 1 tablespoon raw honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (more or less depending on your preference)
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup shoyu or tamari (soy sauce)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

For the noodles:

  • 12 ounces dried soba noodles
  • 12 ounces extra-firm organic tofu
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • 3 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cucumber, peeled, cut in half lengthwise, seeded, and thinly sliced
  • 1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds*
  1. To make the dressing, combine the zest, ginger, honey, cayenne, and salt in a food processor and process until smooth. Add the lemon juice, rice vinegar, and soy sauce and pulse to combine. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.
  2. Cook the soba noodles in boiling salted water just until tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water.
  3. While the pasta is cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry and cut into rectangles about the size of your thumb.
  4. Cook the tofu in a dry nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, until the pieces are browned on one side. Toss gently once or twice, then continue cooking for another minute or two until the tofu is firm and golden.
  5. In a large bowl, combine the soba, the cilantro, green onions, cucumber, and 3/4 cup of the dressing. Toss well to combine. Add the tofu and toss again gently. Add more dressing if needed.
  6. Divide into bowls, garnish each bowl with the toasted sesame seeds, and serve.
* To toast the sesame seeds, place in a small dry skillet in a single layer over medium heat. Toss the seeds every few minute until they are fragrant and toasty. Don’t walk away from the skillet (like I have done many times in the past!) or they will burn.
Adapted from Heidi Swanson’s Super Natural Cooking.