Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Soba noodles with kale flowers, mango, crispy tofu and hazelnut sauce

You know your hair is too long when out of the corner of your eye, it scares you into thinking someone (a ghost perhaps?) has crept up behind you. It may not solely be the fault of my hair. Mike creeps up on me on a regular basis. My natural tendency to be jumpy causes me to yelp and scream every time he tries to scare me. It is either time for a new haircut or a new partner.

I have a long list of tasks that I have been putting off until the day that I have time to be something other than a workaholic. I am overdue for a hair cut, a teeth cleaning and also an eye exam. In fact, I have been wearing the same pair of glasses for at least 10 years. The prescription is no longer as strong as my eyes are weak. 

On a camping trip a few years ago my glasses were left behind in the tent which was subsequently rolled up and packed tightly into its canvas holder. I discovered the glasses, all bent out of shape, a few months later on the next camping trip. Since then I have stepped on them numerous times, usually as I trip out of bed in the morning. They sit on my face all crooked-like but I still wear them on mornings when I would rather be blind than put in my contact lenses. Hopefully, once this week is over and I transition completely to my new job I will have time to take care of my hair, teeth and eyes.

I skipped out on some school-related duties this evening, to instead come home and make a noodle bowl dish for supper. I do not want to spend another string of week nights at the local sushi restaurants and for this day I put my food needs ahead of my work needs. No major repercussions have materialized as of yet.

The central ingredient that I designed this recipe around, was a Kale flower bunch that I have had in my fridge since last weekend when I found them at the farmers market. I pulled them out onto the counter today and discovered they still looked as fresh and crisp as the day that I bought them. I really enjoyed the top, flowery part of the kale flowers, but the bottom, stem part I found to be too tough. When I use these again I will cut off the bottom half and discard the stem. I recommend you do the same if you use them in this recipe.

If you are not vegetarian and do not like tofu then I would recommend replacing the tofu with shrimp. This is what Mike would prefer, but I have not yet given up on trying to vegetarianize him. One day I will succeed...

The ingredients for the sauce are a rough guideline that will change depending on your taste buds and also your specific ingredients. For example, some chili garlic sauces are much hotter than others. Also, you may not need much honey if you are using a sweetened nut-butter. If you are using soy sauce to replace tamari, the amount will depend on how salty your soy sauce is. If you don't have rice vinegar, use more lemon or lime juice and vice versa. Lastly, I like my sauce strong and thick, if you find it too strong then thin it out with water or coconut milk.

Soba noodles with kale flowers, mango, crispy tofu and hazelnut sauce
Makes 3 - 4 servings

3 tbsp hazelnut (or other nut) butter
2 tbsp lemon or lime juice
2 tbsp rice vinegar
4 tbsp tamari
3 tsp honey (agave or maple syrup for vegans)
2 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tsp chili-ginger sauce
Water or coconut milk to thin (optional)

Noodle bowl
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 grated garlic clove
1/2 cup onion
1 small zucchini, cut into rounds
1 bunch, kale-flower tops
1/2 red and 1/2 yellow pepper, chopped
1/2 block of tofu, chopped
1 package soba noodles
1 champagne mango, chopped
Green onion

1. Start by getting the messy, sauce making part of this recipe out of the way. In a blender, combine the hazelnut butter, citrus juice, rice vinegar, tamari, honey, hoisin and chili-garlic in a food processor. Blend until smooth, then set aside.
2. Heat 2 pans and 1 pot of water on the stove. Add a little bit of grape seed or other neutral oil to the pans.
3. When water comes to a boil, stir in the soba noodles and cook until tender.
4. In one pan, add grated ginger, garlic and sliced onions. Cook for 2 minutes then add the peppers, zucchini and kale flowers. Toss a splash of lime juice and tamari into the vegetables. Cook about 8 minutes, stirring frequently.
5. In the other pan add the chopped tofu and season with salt. Cook 4 minutes before turning then cook another 4 minutes. Mix and cook another 5 minutes or so, now stirring about every minute until tofu is nicely and evenly browned.
6. Drain noodles and stir in 2 tbsp of the sauce. Place a serving on a plate, top with vegetables, mango, tofu, cilantro and green onion and top with more sauce. Serve and, as usual, enjoy.


  1. So many of your vegan recipes look beautiful but contain honey. Most vegans eschew honey. I know I can easily substitute agave syrup or rice syrup, but I wish the recipes were written that way, since they are labeled as vegan.

  2. That is a good point Melissa. I started replacing all of my sugar with honey (always organic) for health reasons. Often times I will use maple syrup as a sweetener as well, I find it to be just as suitable as honey and will note this in my future recipes. Thanks for the comment :)