Thursday, April 10, 2014

Miso Soup With Tofu, Soba, and Cabbage

April is National Soy Foods Month and I have taken it upon myself to devote some time to writing about ingredients like tofu, tempeh, soy milk, and similar items derived from soy. First up is tofu, which is quite possibly my most favorite protein ever.

If you have been reading my blog or social networking accounts for any length of time you have probably witnessed my adoration of tofu. This hasn't always been the case. Before I learned how to cook I didn't care for the stuff much at all. Whenever I ordered a dish with tofu in it at a restaurant, it was presented without being seasoned, soft and mushy. Bland. Not something I cared for. But that doesn't have to be the case!

Tofu is a soy based bean curd. Sounds great, right? Hahaha. No, really, once you learn how to use tofu it becomes an extremely versatile ingredient capable of taking on any number of flavors. For instance, you can turn silken tofu into chocolate pie, extra firm tofu can easily become a dish similar to scrambled eggs, and marinated and grilled tofu can become the star of your dinner. Which is what we're going to be doing here.

This recipe is easy, flavorful, and extremely healthy. You won't miss the junk, trust me. To make the tofu, you will need a naturally non-stick grill pan. I absolutely LOVE mine. We bought it for $50 from Bed, Bath, & Beyond. Totally worth the investment. It cleans in a breeze and grills most things easily without any oil whatsoever. It's like a dream. This is the one I bought, just so you know!

So, let's get to it!

1 14-ounce package extra firm tofu, drained and pressed for at least 10 minutes
1/4 rice or white vinegar
1 small head of green cabbage, thinly sliced (see directions)
2 bundles of buckwheat (soba) noodles, cooked according to package instructions
Mellow white miso, 1 tablespoon per bowl
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon white pepper
Fresh salt and pepper
1/4 cup oil-free, sugar-free vegetable broth

Begin by slicing the tofu into eight pieces. Marinate in the liquid aminos and vinegar. I do this right inside my tofu press after I drain the water out. Let sit for ten minutes, then flip the tofu slices. Marinate another ten minutes.

My notes about the cabbage are as follows. I have prepared this dish with both green cabbage and bok choy. I prefer the cabbage, but the bok choy is nice, too. If using the bok choy, use the whole head. If your green cabbage is massive, consider using less or adding more seasoning after a taste test.

Slice the cabbage thinly and in lengths that are not too long for eating in one bite. Add them to a non-stick pot with the 1/4 cup broth, ground ginger, and white pepper. Also add a few shakes of freshly ground sea salt and black pepper. Cover and cook on medium-low heat for about five minutes. Stir and repeat. Cook until the greens are tender. If there is liquid in the pot, remove lid and let evaporate.

Preheat your grill pan over medium heat. Gently lay the tofu slices on top. You don't need much of the liquid at this stage; the tofu will have absorbed much of it. Cook on each side for 4-6 minutes until nice, crisp grill marks have appeared.

To assemble your soup, add a heaping tablespoon of miso to each bowl. Add 3/4 cups boiling water and whisk to dissolve miso. Then add your cooked soba noodles, as much as is your preference (about 1 cup works great), and spoon in some of the cabbage. Stir a little to combine. Top with 2 slices of the grilled tofu per bowl. If you feel like you need more liquid, add a bit more hot water and stir. Eat with a fork and sip the broth as you go!

If you have extra greens and noodles you can prepare leftovers for lunch the next day. Add the noodles, cabbage, tofu, and miso and don't add the water until ready to eat. Or just combine the cabbage, noodles, and leftover tofu and add some more liquid aminos and skip the miso broth. It's nearly just as good.

Chris and I are totally loving this dish. It has replaced my Smoky Kale Tacos as our weekly repeated meal! Sometimes we even have it twice in one week... But I digress. Eat your tofu, and be happy.

Makes 4 servings.

Be on the look out for my next soy devoted post! Do you have a tofu recipe you'd like to share? Leave me a link in the comments and I'll be sure to check it out! In fact, I just may include it in a recipe round-up devoted to soy foods at the end of this month!

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