Tofu and Soba Noodles with Lemon Ginger Dressing


If Heidi Swanson, cookbook author – heidi-swanson Super Natural Cooking: Five Ways To Incorporate Whole and Natural Ingredients into Your Cooking and food blogger of says that this is one of the very best recipes, you’d better believe it. In fact, you might as well cut this article out and make it this week. Heidi specializes in whole, natural foods, the good-for-you recipes that you probably can use more of. The original version of this recipe is from a quaint restaurant in San Francisco called Pomelo. “Otsu” is the name of this dish on their menu, and it means ” strange; quaint; stylish; chic; spicy; witty; tasty.”

If you don’t like tofu, this recipe is also great with shrimp. Season the shrimp with salt and pepper, grill two minutes each side or until cooked through.

I could also tell you that I made this again last night and tossed in leftover, KFC cold fried chicken, but then I think Heidi would be kinda upset at me.


Tofu and Soba Noodles with Lemon Ginger Dressing

(a.k.a. Otsu)

Recipe adapted from Heidi Swanson who adapted it from Culture & Cuisine Magazine who got it from Pomelo Restaurant. I love how recipes evolve and get passed on! I’ve changed the recipe slightly…enjoy!

You’ll want to get firm or extra-firm tofu for this recipe – any softer will just crumble in the frying pan.

For the dressing:

Grated zest of 1 lemon
1 inch section of ginger, peeled and grated
1 tablespoon honey
3/4 teaspoon Asian chilli powder (or cayenne)
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
3 tablespoons grapeseed oil (or olive oil)
1 tablespoons toasted sesame oil

12 ounces dried soba noodles
1 tablespoon cooking oil (whatever oil you use above in the dressing is fine)
12 ounces extra-firm nigari tofu
1/4 cup toasted sesame seeds

To make the dressing, combine all the ingredients except for the oils in a food processor or hand blender. Run the blender for a few seconds, until all ingredients are combined. With the machine running, drizzle in the oils.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the soba noodles until just tender, then drain.

While the noodles are cooking, drain the tofu, pat very dry and cut into 1-inch cubes. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium high heat and when hot, pour in the cooking oil. Add the tofu cubes in one layer. Cook for 1 minute until browned, toss gently and continue cooking until all sides are golden brown and firm.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba with about 2/3 cup of the dressing and the sesame seeds. Toss until well combined. Add the tofu and toss again gently.

Serves 4 for lunch or as part of multi-course meal

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Comments 40

  1. Haley W.

    Mrowr! Jaden, this might be love. Seriously. Lemon, ginger, sesame, tofu, soba – it doesn’t get much better than that. Unless, a little garlic works its way in there, maybe. Love the recipe.

  2. Julie

    I feel more virtuous just by reading the recipe. I agree with Haley – might just bump some of that cayenne for garlic… mmmm

  3. Dominique

    Nice pictures! I really like so much soba noodles, I’ve post a reciepe on my blog yesterday! But I’ll try yours. I’m curious of the combination of lemon, ginger, tofu and soba: it seems delicious…

  4. Kelly

    Hi. Did you use a special type of soba noodles? They look a little green. Wondered if they were some special brand you like to use. I can only ever find Eden foods soba noodles, which I like, but variety is always nice.

    Yes, they are cha-soba (green tea soba) but you can use any type of noodle, esp GF alternatives ~jaden

  5. Lily

    This looks so fantastic! I made a similar dinner the other night – soba with sauteed leeks, long beans, and bean sprouts. I sauteed the leeks in peanut oil, blanched the beans, added them into the leeks, and then added the sprouts. When it was all cooked, I tossed in the cooked soba noodles. I drizzled on some soy sauce at the end. Chili flakes really make even better. By the way, your Club Med vacation pics and stories make me want to go back!!!! I miss working there!

  6. Lydia (The Perfect Pantry)

    I love soba, but honestly it can be a bit bland (like whole wheat pasta) and heavy. It needs a really aggressive sauce to perk it up. I love using chili paste, soy and lemon together, so this recipe is bound to become a favorite in our house.

  7. Dawn in CA

    Yum, this recipe combines some of my favorite things: tofu, soba, lemon, ginger… Yum.

    The annoyingly A/R part of my brain noticed that you have the tofu cooking directions twice in your recipe (each slightly different). FYI. I’m sorry, I can’t help myself. There must be some way to use my powers for good, but I haven’t found it yet. πŸ˜‰

    well SHIT. thx fixed! ~jaden

  8. Connie

    I love that all my fav food bloggers write about each other’s recipes! Heidi Swanson has a great knack for putting together a fantastic and healthy recipe. Try the caramelized tofu for something else delicious and good. Thanks for reminding me that I’ve been wanting to try the Otsu recipe Jaden!

    thanks! yeah its fun cooking blog-friends recipes! ~jaden

  9. soulchocolate

    I have been missing eating tofu for some time now! I would totally love to make this yummy looking dish this weekend!!!

  10. Soyon

    Just wondering what you would recommend to substitute for honey – my vegan friends don’t eat honey. The recipe looks wonderful!


    brown sugar? ~jaden

  11. Alta (TastyEats)

    I love Heidi’s recipes (I bought her book a few months ago!) and this looks so tasty! Especially the sesame oil, which immediately for me turns a yummy noodle dish into an I-cant-stop-eating-it dish! Thanks for sharing!

  12. Misty

    Soyon – in place of honey you could agave nectar.

    I’ve got to go find some nigari tofu. Much of the regular (not silken) type tofu in the stores tastes funny to me.

  13. nithya at hungrydesi

    This sounds fantastic…I love tofu and soba and even better, I think I have all of this in my pantry! Thanks for the suggested substitute for grapeseed oil too (which I don’t have). This is going in this week’s dinner rotation.

    I love grapeseed oil – it’s light and neutral flavored ~jaden

  14. Jenny

    That looks gorgeous and the dressing sounds like just the kind of combination I love. Yum!

  15. RecipeGirl

    Do you think if I have absolutely zero experience w/ eating or preparing tofu that I would enjoy it prepared this way? I’ve always wanted to take the plunge… maybe now it’s time.

    This is the PERFECT recipe to start with. It’s easy and incredibly tasty. the smaller you cut the tofu cubes, the more surface area that gets crisp crunchy, which I think you’ll like. ~jaden

  16. Phoo-D

    Hi Jaden,

    We just had this for dinner tonight. It was delicious! Thank you so much for highlighting the recipe. It is easy and will definitely make a repeat appearance around here.



  17. lysozymes

    Thanks a million for the recipe, the picture was so suggestive it made my mouth water. Me, A Meat Eater!

    I seared the tofu in some sugar and light japanese soysauce and sprinkled chopped garlic on top while tossing the tofu on high heat. Made it taste a little bit more cause my tofu tends to be a bit bitter (overcooked?).

  18. nithya at hungrydesi

    We made this for dinner earlier this week…was quick and flavorful. I substituted some lemongrass for the lemon zest (b/c I was trying to finish off my lemongrass). Also, after the tofu was well browned, I drizzled a tablespoon or two of the dressing over the tofu to sear the sauce in. I also added some sauted spinach (seawood would be good too) to make it a little more filling. After I tossed the tofu/spinach with the dressing and the noodles, I heated it all in a skillet so it was nice and warm before eating. Delicious! Leftovers for lunch were great too. Thanks!

  19. Nhu

    I saw this the other day and could practically taste the deliciousness from the photo. I decided to try making it today since I had all the ingredients on hand (btw, pre-cooked frozen soba noodles are quite handy!). You haven’t failed me yet, this is TO DIE FOR! Thanks for all the great recipes!

  20. Biz

    I totally must have missed that recipe on Heidi’s site – thanks for posting it here – this is definitely going to be one of my lunches next week! πŸ˜€

  21. Taymer

    Hi Jaden,
    I made this last week 2 days in a row and it is the best way I had soba noodles and even if I am vegan I do not like diced tofu like that but I could afford it with the help of the sauce. It was wonderful thanks to you and Heidi and all the message passers that had changed it up a little. I cannot wait to eat it again.

  22. Digital Diva

    This is a spicy meatball! With all that acid I was surprised how long the heat lasted. All our noses were running. Nevertheless, my family likes it hot and zesty and I may use a gourmet rice vinegar next time which tends to be sweeter. Also, I added spinach to the dish so that it would be a complete 1 dish meal.

  23. Heidi

    WOW. So good I actually HAD to lick the lid of my Cuisinar Mini Chopper. That is ADDICTING. Need I say, I LOVE IT?!

  24. Heidi

    Confession: I actually licked EVERY surface that delectable vinegrette touched. And I should note: I threw in some torn pieces of kale and used udon noodles instead. With the udon noodles, I had pre-soaked them in water, so instead of boiling them, I threw them in w/ the tofu, poured on the vinegrette “sauce”, threw in the kale, covered, and let simmer over low… for a time…. Then served w/ uncooked sugar snap peas.

  25. Wendy

    This was sooooo good. I thought it was just good when I started eating it, but then changed my mind halfway through and thought it was soooooo good! Added some cabbage in the pan that needed to be used up and it was a lovely yummy dinner!

  26. Lesley Q.

    I just made this for my boyfriend and we both LOVED it! My only recommendation is to do a 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne instead of the recommended 3/4. This would not make the dish so spicy and the lemon would not be so hidden. If I make this recipe again, I would do 2 tablespoons of seasame seed oil and 2 tablespoons of olive oil.

  27. bella

    Oooh!!!! I made them today and just couldn’t believe it’s soooo goood!! Simple and yet delicious and healthy. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    1. Post
  28. Kimchi John

    This recipe is awesome! The lemon and ginger really added to all the flavors. The KFC touch made me laugh only because I can relate. Whaaaat!

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