- YIELD: 4 servings
- TIME: 20 minutes
There is no need to reserve this recipe exclusively for vegans: This noodle dish will win over any crowd, regardless of dietary dispositions. Here, tofu is blended with garlic, five-spice powder and water for a creamy yet weightless sauce that wraps around each noodle. The same technique can be used to create a lush dairy-free pasta sauce (just add nutritional yeast and fresh herbs) or a ranch-like dip (blitz silken tofu with garlic, onion powder and herbs). For this recipe, be sure to use firm tofu, as it has more body and makes for a heartier sauce. The creamy noodles provide the perfect backdrop for the spicy, punchy black vinegar sauce.
FOR THE NOODLES:
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 12 ounces thick Chinese wheat noodles
- 1 (14-ounce) package firm tofu, broken into pieces
- 2 garlic cloves, sliced
- ½ teaspoon granulated sugar
- ½ teaspoon five-spice powder
- ½ cup finely chopped cilantro leaves and tender stems, plus a few sprigs for serving
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
- Toasted white sesame seeds, for garnish
FOR THE TOPPING:
- 2 tablespoons Chinkiang vinegar (black vinegar), or a combination of 4 teaspoons rice wine vinegar plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon chile oil or chile crisp, such as Chiu Chow chile oil
- 1 scallion, finely chopped
- 1 (1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
- Prepare the noodles: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the noodles and cook according to package instructions until the noodles are just tender, about 6 minutes. Drain, rinse with cold water and drain well again.
- As noodles cook, prepare the topping: Add vinegar, soy sauce, chile oil, scallion, ginger and 1 tablespoon water to a small bowl and stir to combine.
- Place the tofu, garlic, sugar, five-spice and 3/4 teaspoon salt into a blender or food processor and blend, adding about 6 tablespoons of water, 1 tablespoon at a time, until the sauce is completely smooth and creamy. (You may need up to 12 tablespoons of water, depending on your tofu.)
- Place the noodles in a large bowl and pour the tofu sauce on top. Add the cilantro and sesame oil, and toss until coated.
- To serve, divide the noodles among bowls. Top with the spicy soy-vinegar sauce, sesame seeds and cilantro sprigs.