Thursday 18 March 2010

MLLA Soba salad and orange tempeh

At the moment it feels like there are not enough hours in the day. I don't make as much food as I plan to, I struggle to find time to post on this blog about this cooking, and I don't find the time to comment on other blogs as much as I want. But once I do visit other blogs, I find myself sucked back into the world of wonderful foodie ideas that I must try and the cycle of cooking, posting and visiting blogs begins again. One blogger who often inspires is Heidi of 101 Cookbooks. I found myself adapting and pairing her recipes last week.

I had some buckwheat soba noodles that I had bought to make a quick salad for the recent potluck. A few days after, I had a chance to make the salad. There are many soba noodle salad recipes on the web but as so I often happens, I found myself drawn to one of Heidi's recipes. I love her flavours but often add more vegetables.

I made the salad one night after work. When I have been working all day Sylvia can be very clingy. So on this night I gave her a cuddle while instructing E on making the dressing. He had lots of fun being Captain Kirk playing with the ginger Phaser. (I had to check this on Wikipedia and couldn't believe the huge list of Star Trek weapons.) He was less enthused at measuring out honey. Sylvia was then calm enough for me to get the vegetables together and tweak the dressing. It was very spicy and I later wondered if E had put in enough honey.

I enjoyed the salad that night but I think I loved it even more the next day when it has sat overnight in the creamy dressing. Being cautious I had only added tofu and tahini to half the dressing and boiled up half the soba noodles. The next night I chopped more vegies and cooked more noodles. It was equally good with the dressing, without tofu and tahini.

I liked Heidi's suggestion of pan frying some tofu for the salad. But I had a slab of tempeh in the fridge that I had bought with the intention of revisiting a Heidi's Orange Glazed Tempeh. I had first made this a few weeks back and it was so good that E said it could fool (or satisfy) a carnivore. It was crispy and substantial and full of flavour.

I had meant to serve it with brown rice but the weevils had beaten me to it. So I made a plain basmati rice salad with lime juice and vegetables to accompany it. As I was able to dig in, Sylvia fell over and began crying. I was hungry! So I sat on the floor with her while I ate.

She had a lovely time sticking her hand into the rice and I was glad it was so plain. Maybe she recognised it as being similar to her meal of rice, vegies and beans. I would like to say that she ate a lot of mine but she was more interested in scattering it on the rug. I was more impressed at her steadiness as she stood beside me to reach into my bowl.

The second time I made the dish the flavours were still delicious but I was a little impatient with the tempeh and didn't fry it long enough to be really crispy. It was nice but not as spectacular as the first time. A good lesson for me on frying up tempeh! I must try it again to do it properly again and remind myself of just how crispy it can be.

I am sending the Orange Glazed Tempeh to Mirch Masala who's hosting this month's My Legume Love Affair, the monthly event focusing on legumes, including soy based products such as tempeh and tofu, which is overseen by Susan of The Well Seasoned Cook.

Soba Noodle Salad
adapted from 101 Cookbooks
serves 4


  • about a 1-inch cube of fresh ginger, finely grated
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • ½ tsp cayenne
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2-3 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1-2 tbsp tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 150g tofu (optional)
  • 2-3 tbsp tahini (optional)

  • 250g (1 packet) soba noodles
  • 2 carrots, cut into matchsticks
  • 2 cobs of corn, cooked in microwave and kernels chopped off
  • 1 green capsicum, thinly sliced
  • 1 red capsicum, thinly sliced
  • couple of handfuls of snowpeas, trimmed and thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions, thinly sliced
  • ½ cucumber, cut into matchsticks, to serve
  • 12 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu (I didn't use but would in future)
  • chopped peanuts (or toasted sesame seeds) to serve

Make the dressing by whisking together all ingredients in a small bowl. If you chose to use the tofu and tahini it will be quite creamy but should keep overnight after being stirred into the salad. (I had some for lunch the next day and it was fantastic.) We also had a second lot of soba noodles with the dressing without tofu and tahini and that was very good too.

Cook the soba in a large saucepan of lots of boiling salted water until just tender, then drain and rinse under cold running water. I would like to tell you to check the instructions on the packet but my packet didn't actually give a time - I think it took me about 5-10 minutes but I can't remember. I do remember that I used a small saucepan and they really needed to be stirred to separate them once the water boiled and a bigger saucepan with lots of room would have helped the noodles separate. I also put my carrot in with the noodles to cook a for a few minutes.

While the noodles are cooking, prepare the vegies and firm tofu (if using). Heidi cooked her tofu in oil until 'bouncy'.

When noodles are cooked, toss with dressing and vegetables. I kept the cucumber and chopped nuts aside to use as garnish once I had served the salad in bowls.

Orange-Glazed Tempeh
serves 2-4 as side dish
Adapted from 101 Cookbooks

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (about 2½ large juicy oranges)
  • juice squeezed from 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger (pulp discarded)
  • 2 teaspoons tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1½ tablespoons mirin
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • 1 tsp seeded mustard
  • 2 small garlic cloves, crushed
  • pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 300g tempeh (or extra-firm tofu)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 lime - (I didn't use)
  • a handful of coriander (cilantro) leaves - (I didn't use)

In a small bowl, place the orange juice, juice of the grated ginger, tamari, mirin, maple syrup, mustard, and garlic. Mix together and set aside.

Slice the tempeh into bite sized pieces - I found that rectangles fit in my frypan easier than triangles although triangles are more pleasing. Heat a large frypan over medium heat and add oil to hot pan.

Once oil has heated up (and it shouldn't take too long on a hot frypan) add tempeh and fry for 5 minutes or until it is golden brown underneath. Turn and cook on the other side for another 5 minutes until it is golden brown. It is important to make sure it is cooked to crispy golden brown for this dish to work.

When tempeh is well cooked, pour orange juice mixture into pan and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the sauce has reduced into a syrupy glaze. Turn tempeh over once during this time and spoon sauce over it to ensure it is well coated. Serve over a grain, such as rice or noodles, and vegetables.

On the stereo:
Ultra-Lounge Volume 1 - Mondo Exotica – Various Artists


  1. I know that for my part, it doesn't matter if a few extra days appear in between your posts - I always know they'll be filled with delicious foods and stories that make me smile when they do come!

    Also, one of my nicest days in Paris so far included climbing Notre Dame then spending a few hours at the Shakespeare and Co bookstore, reading upstairs in the piano room. So thank you :)

  2. The Orange Glazed Tempeh looks really good and quite at home on top of this gorgeous salad.

  3. Another inspiringly good-looking dish! You are so good at cooking up such tasty and time-intensive dishes when you have so many other demands on your time. I'm sure it would be stir fry every night round here! I'm curious that E liked the tempeh - we only tried it once but my grim eater wasn't at all taken. I bet it would be just as good with tofu though so I'm not ruling this dish out!

  4. The orange glazed tempeh looks delicious! Nice that Sylvia misses you while you are at work.

  5. That all sounds (and looks) rather lovely. Not the kind of thing I'd usually even think to make, but now, I might just...

  6. They both sound great, but I'm sure I'd absolutely love that tempeh! And crispy is key ;)

    That is some piece of ginger--no wonder E thought it resembled a phaser. It made me think of the Laser Cats they sometimes show on Saturday Night Live (can't believe I just admitted I watch that!)

  7. Thanks Hannah - that is sweet of you and am so glad you enjoyed some of the great views of paris

    Thanks Mark - it seemed to work well

    Thanks Lysy - I can be a bit love-hate about tempeh but this dish works really well when fried up to be very crispy - if you want to try this on the Scientist - and I think I am a little over ambitious some nights with my ideas for dinner - we really need more beans on toast nights

    Thanks Cakelaw - it is nice she misses me but not much fun seeing her burst into tears as I leave and return - thankfully it doesn't last too long

    Thanks Aforkful - hope you do try it - might make a nice change!

    Thanks Ricki - can't believe I had to look up laser cats and watch a video of them - very very silly - better not show sylvia or she will get new ideas for playing with zinc :-)


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