I can be really, atrociously terrible at following directions, and this dinner, unfortunately, is a perfect example.
I’m not always like that though. When I worked in a lab and was doing all sorts of crazy things with DNA, using primers and different chemicals that completely intimidated me, I was the best direction-follower ever. I had to be, because I was doing someone else’s work and I really, really did NOT want to mess it up for them. When I’m baking a really complex dessert with a bunch of different components, I read through the whole recipe a bunch of times, and follow instructions to the letter. But a simple sushi roll with soba instead of rice? I thought reading the directions was kind of pointless.
This brilliant concept (which I will definitely be making again now that I know what I did wrong, comes from the fabulous vegan blog BitterSweet. Basically, you’re supposed to tie a bundle of soba noodles together at one end, boil it, then cut off the tied end and roll the bundle up into sushi. It seems so simple, but I just assumed you were supposed to tie both ends, boil, drain, cut off the string, and roll them up, starchy, clumped-together ends and all. I guess common sense isn’t really my forte. Anyway, after realizing that a bunch of the noodles were uncooked in the middle, I went back and figured out the error of my ways. I think I like sushi made with soba even more than sushi made with rice, and the addition of baked teriyaki tofu made this a complete, satisfying meal.
(inspired by BitterSweet)
1 16-ounce block extra firm nigari tofu (I used Trader Joe’s High Protein Tofu)
2 tbsp mirin
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
1-2 tsp grated ginger
2 carrots, julienned
1 English cucumber, seeded and julienned
1 avocado, cut into strips
6 sheets of sushi nori, toasted (I just hold them over the low flame of a gas burner for a few seconds)
3 90g bunches of soba noodles
wasabi, soy sauce, and pickled ginger for serving
To prepare the tofu, preheat the oven to 350 F and grease a shallow baking pan. Cut the block of tofu lengthwise into strips about 1/2″ x 1/2″ by 4″. Toss them with the soy sauce, mirin, ginger, and garlic, and arrange in a single layer in the prepared pan. Bake for 30-40 minutes, turning 2 or 3 times, until brown and firm. Set aside to cool.
To prepare the noodles, divide each bundle in half, and tie at ONE END with a piece of kitchen twine. Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the bundles for about 6 minutes, or according to package directions. Rinse with cold water and let dry for a few minutes.
To assemble the sushi, cut the tied end off the noodle bundle and place the noodles on the nori. Add a few tofu sticks, some carrots, cucumber, and avocado, then roll up tightly using a sushi mat (or if you’re cheap like me, a piece of wax paper.) Slice with a very sharp knife and arrange on a plate. Repeat with remaining ingredients (you may have some tofu left over, but it’s great diced and added to salads.)
Serve with soy sauce, wasabi, and ginger.