There is a Cold Sesame Chicken recipe from the New York Times that I have gone back to quite a few times this summer. It is delicious, super simple, and perfect for make ahead meals. To adapt the recipe for a plant-forward crowd, I decided to swap in tofu for the main and serve it over brown rice noodles with crunchy marinated cucumbers, peanuts, and cilantro, resulting in a refreshing and easy summer meal.
I know tofu and soy are “controversial” ingredients, and they have not made many appearances on crunchy radish. Here is my stance on tofu and soy. Soy is found in many forms. The forms that have been manipulated, such as textured vegetable protein, soy protein isolates, and soy protein concentrates, should be avoided since these are modified and far from their original state. Processed soy contain soy isoflavones, which are structurally similar to human estrogen and can potentially fuel certain types of cancer growth in cells with estrogen receptors. These processed forms of soy are traditionally found in packaged foods such as protein powders, faux meats, veggie burgers, protein bars, and snack foods. Fermented and organic minimally professed forms of soy are your best and healthiest bet. Examples include miso, tempeh, edamame, and tofu. Make sure to purchase organic to avoid GMO versions. Organic soy products are fine in moderation, which means once a week in my book. Soy is a complete protein because it contains all of the essential amino acids and provides between 10 to 17 grams per ½ cup serving depending on the source.
To add flavor and dimension to the tofu, I first seared it and then marinated it, which resulted in crispy and flavorful crumbles. Crunchy cucumbers are also quickly marinated, and everything is served together with brown rice noddles, salty crunchy peanuts, and a generous sprinkling of lime juice and sesame seeds.
Cold Sesame Tofu with Rice Noodles
1 pound organic extra-firm tofu, sliced 3/4 inch thick
2 tablespoons avocado oil
3 tablespoons low sodium tamari or coconut aminos
2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
1 tablespoon mirin
3 tablespoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons grated ginger
1 small clove garlic, grated
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
2 medium sized cucumbers, peeled, cut lengthwise, and thinly sliced
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1 package of brown rice noodles or buckwheat soba
1/4 cup salted roasted peanuts, roughly chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 cup cilantro, roughly chopped
2 scallions, thinly sliced
2 limes, cut into quarters
Arrange tofu slices in a single layer on a paper towel–lined plate. Cover with a few more paper towels and press down firmly removing excess liquid.
In a large cast iron skillet, warm the avocado oil over medium heat . Cook the tofu, turning once, until browned and slightly crispy, about 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool.
While the tofu cools, make the marinade. Whisk together the tamari, brown rice vinegar, mirin, sesame oil, grated ginger, grated garlic, and red pepper flakes in a large bowl. Crumble in the tofu and chill for at least an hour.
Place the cucumber, a pinch of salt, and apple cider vinegar into a bowl and let marinate for 30 minutes.
As the tofu chills and cucumber marinates, cook the brown rice noodles according to package directions. Once cooked, run under cold water to prevent sticking.
To serve, arrange noodles into bowls, spoon the tofu and sauce over the noddles. Top with cucumber, peanuts, sesame seeds, cilantro, scallions, and a good squeeze of lime juice.