Pan Fried Tofu, Kale, and Stir-Fried Noodles

Pan Fried Tofu, Kale, and Stir-Fried Noodles

I’m forever combining kale and tofu. I always seem to have both on hand, probably because I love both ingredients. Today, Christmas day, we wanted lunch but certainly couldn’t make a trip to our little (very closed) grocery store. Time to play with kale and tofu again.

I’ve been trying to perfect pan-fried tofu. It doesn’t sound like something that would be all that hard, and really, it’s not. It’s a simple concept. But like all simple things, small changes can make a huge difference in the final result. I like my tofu a little crispy on the outside, and chewy and flavorful on the inside. There are three things I’ve discovered to help me achieve this: a cast-iron pan, a decently long cooking period, and a rest period afterwards.

Have you ever noticed that your baked tofu firms up a bit when it cools? Just out of the pan or the oven, it can still be a little floppy, a little mushy, a little… bleh. Let it sit out on your cutting board for a few minutes and it’ll firm right up, giving a chewier texture. I’ll give more details in the actual recipe on how to get your pan-fried tofu to turn out like the picture shows.

These noodles are stir fried and only lightly flavored – I made a dipping sauce to go with this dish inspired by the one P.F. Changs makes when you sit down. I’s a mixture of soy sauce, vinegar, mustard, and chili sauce–well, at least that’s what my mixture is. I have no idea what P.F. Changs actually uses.

The marinade for the tofu is similar for the dipping sauce, but the resulting baked tofu is complimented by the sauce, instead of tasting like more of the same. I love pouring a bit of the dipping sauce over the noodles and tofu while I’m eating for a little extra zing.

Pan Fried Tofu, Kale, and Stir-Fried Noodles
Serves Two

1 Package Extra/Super Firm Tofu
1 Head Kale, deveined and torn
5 oz. Dried, Wide Rice Noodles (Mine come in 10 oz packages)
Soy Sauce

Tofu Marinade
1/4 Cup Water
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce or Tamari
1 Tbs Thinly Sliced Ginger (or minced)
1 Tbs Maple Syrup
1 Tbs Oil
1 Tbs Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 Garlic Clove, minced
1/2 tsp Mustard
1/4 tsp Sriracha or Hot Chili Sauce
Black Pepper, to taste

Dipping Sauce
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce or Tamari
1/4 Cup Water
1 Tbs Seasoned Rice Vinegar
1 tsp Mustard
1 tsp Sriracha

Begin by pressing the tofu. I wrap my tofu in a single paper towel, then in a bar towel, and place a cast iron pan on top for 15 or so minutes. The paper towel prevents bar towel fuzz from getting on the tofu, while the terry cloth bar towel sucks out a ton of water.

While the tofu is pressing, whisk together the marinade. I used a mandoline to cut the ginger into paper-thin slices: that way some cooks with the tofu and you get mild bits of ginger on the finished tofu. You can mince the ginger if you don’t have a mandoline available.

Cut the tofu into 8 equal sized rectangles and let it sit in the marinade for about 30 minutes, turning halfway through. Meanwhile, boil the rice noodles and cook for 6 minutes, until just tender. Rinse in cold water and drain as well as you can, set aside. I also cut my noodles with scissors to prevent them from being too long.

Whisk together the dipping sauce, and set aside.

Heat a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Lightly oil the pan, just enough so the it’s shiny. Once the pan is very hot, add the tofu. If your pan is seasoned, you shouldn’t have any issues with the tofu sticking. Brown the tofu on one side, flip, and brown on the other side. I then spoon extra marinade over the tofu and flip every few minutes. In all, I cook the tofu for around 10 minutes, until it looks like the tofu will be burnt if I leave it on any longer. Remove tofu from the pan and let it rest while finishing the dish.

Heat a little more oil in your pan, add the kale. Once softened, add the noodles and toss. If they stick, that’s okay. Use a metal spatula to remove them; the crispy bits are tasty. Add more oil, enough to coat the noodles, if needed.

Flavor the noodles lightly with a sprinkle of soy sauce and a pinch of sugar. Plate the noodles and kale. Slice the now firmed (but still warm) tofu and place on top. Serve with dipping sauce.

Leftover tofu is wonderful in sandwiches. Happy holidays!

Pan Fried Tofu, Kale, and Stir-Fried Noodles


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  4. Rebecca

    I made this tonight, and it was fantastic!
    Your instructions were really helpful, and my tofu came out looking as good as the in the photo.
    Really delicious. Thank you!

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