My morning has been far too stressful. First, a Pyrex baking dish exploded in my oven (see above picture), scaring the bejesus out of me and making me feel stupid for not noticing that Pyrex says "no broiler" right on the bottom. Then on my bike ride to school a driver made a left turn into the wrong lane, where I was lawfully riding, and nearly hit me. And if the visions of burning glass flying at my face and broken limbs were not enough, my electric bill for last month was ridiculous, even though we weren't there most of the month, and when we are there, we keep it 85-90 degrees and unplug almost everything we aren't using at the moment. The apartment management company claims that our air conditioning had accidentally been cross-wired to someone else's meter, so we are now paying for what we actually use, but it seems way too high. Now in an effort to calm myself, I will tell you about this lovely salad I made for dinner last night before any of these upsetting things happened.
I got the idea for this salad and dressing from the June 2008 issue of Bon Appetit, but now I just customize it with whatever I have around the house. This time, I had edamame, tofu skins (more on those later), red bell pepper, tomatoes, lettuce, peanuts, carrots, and cucumbers. I normally make the dressing with an orange juice and peanut butter base, but I was out of OJ and very low on PB, so this time I based it on pineapple juice, a smidgeon of PB, sesame oil, and lime juice. It turned out pretty well, although OJ is better than pineapple juice for this purpose. The only cooking you have to do for this is boiling the noodles, edamame, and tofu skins, which I did at the same time, so it doesn't heat up your house much. That's always a plus in the summer.
Now to discuss tofu skins. Tofu skin is kind of new to me, and there are a couple different kinds, so I don't really know what to call it, but both Jon and I have really been enjoying it. It's my understanding that it is a byproduct of tofu production, kind of like a skin that forms on the top of a pudding. I picked up a few different types of tofu skins a couple weeks ago in Chinatown. Some of them are wet and wrinkly, and some are dry and almost look woven. I think the dry kind might be just a dried-out version of a wet kind, but since I know nothing about the tofu-making process, I don't know. All freeze very well. They have a really great chewy texture that makes them more satisfying in some dishes than regular tofu. The kind I used for this recipe was labeled "tofu striper", but that may have just been the store's translation. It was a dry one that looked almost like thin woven cotton handkerchiefs. It came in 4-inch squares, and I cut it into 1/4-inch strips to give it kind of a linguini shape. I cooked it with the noodles to get it a little soft but didn't really do anything special with it. Expect to see tofu skins appearing in more recipes on this blog. They're really quite fantastic.
Soba noodle salad
I made the dressing by pouring a little of this and a little of that and tasting often, so the amounts I have listed are just guidelines. Use your tongue while making it and adjust it to your tastes. I would recommend that you make the dressing a little sweeter than you think you should because there isn't much sweetness in the other ingredients. Finally, add whatever vegetables you want. Sliced raw baby bok choy is good, as are cooked greens. Water chestnuts and bean sprouts are nice for crunch, but I didn't have any around.
8 oz soba noodles
1/2 cup frozen edamame
2 oz dry tofu skin, cut into narrow strips
1/3 large cucumber, julienned
1/2 large carrot, julienned
1/2 red bell pepper, cut into narrow strips
1 Roma tomato, cut into narrow strips, or 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
4 leaves of lettuce, torn into bite-sized pieces
Crushed peanuts to garnish
1/3 cup pineapple or orange juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1 tbsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp peanut butter
1 tsp sesame seeds
Srirachi sauce, to taste
Bring 2 quarts of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Add the noodles and edamame and cook for about five minutes. Add the tofu skins and cook until the noodles are tender, about 6 more minutes. While you're waiting, whisk the dressing ingredients together and mess around with it until you think it's perfect. Drain the noodles, beans, and tofu skins and put in a large bowl. Add most of the dressing and toss to combine so the noodles won't stick together. Add the cucumber, carrot, pepper, and tomatoes and toss together. Serve on a bed of lettuce and garnish with crushed peanuts.