Soba Noodles in Shiitake Mushroom Broth with Sesame Crusted Tofu and Pea Shoots has a simple, fast, and flavorful broth that serves as the base of this delicious, healthy, and vegetarian dish.
Combine everything into a large pot. Bring to a boil on high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook for 40 minutes.
Pour broth over a fine-mesh sieve and discard the solids. Let the broth cool to room temperature, pour into mason jars, and either use immediately or freeze.
Place the tofu block on a baking sheet covered with a clean dishtowel and a layer of paper towels. Pull the dishtowel and paper towels over the top (the tofu should sandwiched). Put another baking sheet on top of the tofu and place heavy items on top. Press the tofu for at least 30 minutes (this can be done the day before).
For the marinade, mix everything together except for the sesame seeds and vegetable oil.
Uncover the tofu and cut it into 10, 1/2 inch rectangles.
Lay the tofu in a baking dish and pour the marinade on top. Marinate for 30 minutes, turning the tofu once.
Mix the sesame seeds and salt together in a shallow dish. Pick up a tofu rectangle, shake off excess marinade, and dip both sides in the sesame seeds. Repeat.
Heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil in a skillet on medium heat. Once oil is hot, add the tofu, cooking each side for 1 minute. Set aside.
Heat oil in a large skillet or wok. Once oil is hot, add the pea shoots and stir-fry 1 to 2 minutes until slightly wilted but still crisp.
Transfer to a plate and sprinkle with the coarse Himalayan salt.
Heat the vegetable broth on medium heat until it starts to boil. Reduce heat to low.
Bring a pot of water to boil. Add the soba noodles, let the water return to a boil, and then reduce heat until the water is at a simmer. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes.
While the noodles are cooking, fill a large bowl with cold water. Drain the noodles in a colander and then dump them into the cold water. Use your hands to rub the noodles, washing them of excess starch. Drain the noodles again and set aside until you’re ready to use them.
Pour about 1 cup of broth into serving bowls. Separate the noodles equally among the bowls.
Top with Sesame Crusted Tofu (cut into cubes if desired for easier eating), Stir Fried Pea Shoots, bean sprouts, a generous squeeze of lime juice, and more salt if needed.
If you don’t have a pot that can fit 16 liters of water, don’t worry. Just fill up your biggest one.
Anything goes for broths. You can put vegetable skins, ends, parts of vegetables you’re not going to use (carrot top greens, etc.). But for this recipe, don’t skim on the shiitakes-it’s where the flavor comes from without adding much else to the broth besides salt and pepper.
At your average grocery story, shiitakes can be very expensive. But if you go to an Asian grocery or market, you can get them at a very nice price. If you can’t find decently priced fresh shiitake mushrooms you can always use dehydrated mushrooms, which are readily available these days in most grocery stores. 12 to 15 mushrooms should do and dehydrated mushrooms actually have more flavor than fresh.
The Shiitake Vegetable Broth can be made ahead of time and frozen for later use. You can press the tofu in advance. After you’ve pressed it, cut it into 10, 1/2 inch rectangles and refrigerate them in an air tight container for the next day. The tofu fries better as rectangles but they can easily be cut into cubes for easier eating.
All the elements of this can easily be stored separately, making it a good option for serving throughout the week. Soba noodles reheat nicely by adding the cold noodles to the hot broth.