Cashew Noodle Salad with Miso-Ginger Tofu Skewers
I am a huge fan of the Cashew Noodle Salad at Whole Foods. It is super delish. That said, I think this homemade version is even better!
When I was writing my cookbook Simply Grilling, I asked my friend Justin Fox Burks (who was also my photographer for the book as well as author of the fabulous food blog www.theChubbyVegetarian.com) for a tofu recipe. I knew tofu was tasty when grilled but I don’t have much experience cooking with it. Since Justin is my go-to guy for all things vegetarian, I knew he would have a great recipe for me. Little did I know, I would actually be getting two great recipes in one!
Let’s start with the Tofu.
Tofu on its own tends to be pretty bland. Justin recommended that I marinate it in something very flavorful … like the Miso-Ginger marinade in this recipe. Other than the red miso paste and mirin, all the ingredients were items I already had on hand. Luckily the miso and the mirin have a good shelf life, so I was able to find other uses for these Asian ingredients. (Eggplant is excellent when marinated in miso by the way! There is a recipe for it in Simply Grilling.) A plus for this recipe, the marinade gets a second life as a sauce to brush over the cooked tofu. Nothing goes to waste.
Justin also passed along an invaluable tip about grilling and searing tofu … Lightly dusting tofu in cornstarch prevents it from sticking. Worked like a charm!
Oh … and be sure to get the extra-firm tofu when grilling it. Otherwise it will fall apart on the grill.
Now for part two of the recipe … the Cashew Noodle Salad.
As I mentioned before, I am a huge fan of the version at Whole Foods. It’s a meal in itself or a tasty side. I had heard about Justin’s homemade version from friends, and was thrilled when I saw it in this recipe. It couldn’t be an easier to make and I think his version has more flavor and kick. (Must be that Sambal chili paste!) If it isn’t devoured right after making it, it does last for a several days in the fridge.
So, my first “Meatless Monday” recipe is really a two-for-one deal! Make them together or separately. But be sure to give them a try!
Cashew Noodle Salad with Miso-Ginger Tofu Skewers
From Simply Grilling by Jennifer Chandler
For the Cashew Noodle Salad:
1 cup cashews
1/4 cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons Sambal chili paste
1/4 cup sesame oil
1/4 cup mirin
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 cup thinly sliced scallions
1/2 pound spaghetti or soba noodles, cooked per package directions and cooled
For the Miso-Ginger Tofu Skewers:
1 tablespoon red miso paste
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
3 tablespoons mirin
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons water
Dash of sriracha
1 block (14-ounce) extra firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
Vegetable oil, for the grates
Skewers (if using bamboo, soak in water for 30 minutes)
Corn starch, for dusting
To make the Cashew Noodle Salad: Place the cashews, soy sauce, sambal, sesame oil, mirin, rice vinegar, and garlic into a food processor and pulse until smooth. Place the noodles in a large bowl. Add the cashew sauce and sliced scallions. Toss to until well coated. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
To make the Miso-Ginger Tofu Skewers: In a shallow nonreactive dish just large enough to hold the tofu in a single layer, stir together the miso paste, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, mirin, ginger, garlic, sugar, water, and sriracha. Place the tofu in the marinade and gently toss until well coated. Cover, place in the refrigerator, and marinate for at least an hour or as long as overnight.
Preheat a clean grill to medium-high with the lid closed for 8 to 10 minutes. Lightly brush the grates with oil.
Remove the tofu from the marinade. Shake off the excess and pat dry. Thread the tofu onto the skewers. Lightly dust with the cornstarch.
Strain the marinade and place into a small pot over medium-high heat to reduce.
Allow mixture to reduce by half or until slightly thickened.
Place the tofu on the grill. Close the lid and cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes on the first side. Turn over and lightly brush with the reduced marinade. Cook an additional 4 minutes. Remove from the grill and brush again with the marinade.
To serve, place the tofu skewers on top of the cashew noodle salad.
Cooking Tip: Lightly dusting the tofu skewers on both sides with corn starch will help prevent sticking and allow the reduced marinade to cling to the tofu.
Food Fact: Miso paste is a traditional Japanese seasoning made from fermented soybeans. There are two main varieties available: Red (aka) or White (shiro). Look for it in the Asian foods or refrigerator sections of your local market.
Do-Ahead: The cashew noodle salad will last up to a week covered and refrigerated. In fact, it is one of those dishes that some say tastes even better the second day.
Vegetarian and Vegan.
The photo was taken by the talented Justin Fox Burks.