Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Survival Tactics

My partner just started a new job.  For us, that means time away from each other, a more regular daily schedule, and a bit more cash in our pockets.  Overall, I'm pleased and proud of him, but my days can get a bit lonely.

When he's at work, eating a balanced, home cooked meal while caring for a baby continues to be a challenge.  My new approach to cooking meals is to prepare food in quantity, and reheat when hungry.  It seems obvious, but doing so wasn't really necessary until now.  When meal planning is not well thought out, I often find myself in a situation where both a screaming baby and a crying stomach are equally demanding my immediate attention.  I will be the first to admit that sometimes the latter wins, though I would tend to reach for something super quick and junky.

This week, soba noodle bowls have been on my lunch menu almost every day.  The tofu and vegetables can be prepared in advance and stored in the fridge, and the soba noodles on their own are very quick to make.  Once all of the tofu and vegetable preparation work is done, this one-bowl healthy meal takes less than 10 minutes to cook and put together.  Even though I added tofu, broccoli, carrots, sprouts, and green onions to my bowl, consider the near infinite vegetable-protein combinations you can come up with.  Or not.

Sesame Soba Noodle Bowl
Makes 1 serving.

The vegetable add-ins listed in the below recipe were what I had available at the moment.  Other options that would do nicely: roasted skin-on peanuts, pan-fried sliced shiitake mushrooms, minced raw garlic, juilienned red bell pepper, steamed baby bok choy, red chili flakes, and a sunny-side up fried egg.

1 single-serving bundle of dried soba noodles
1-1/2 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp tahini
A small handful of simple tofu cubes (recipe below)
Vegetable add-ins: steamed broccoli florets, julienned carrots, daikon radish sprouts, and sliced green onion tops

Cook soba noodles according to the package, which should be something like 6-7 minutes in a large pot of boiling water.  Drain the noodles in a colander, and give them a quick stir while rinsing with a shot of cold water.  Slide the noodles into a bowl for serving.  Pour soy sauce and sesame oil over the noodles, along with the tahini, and give another stir to toss it all together.  Arrange the tofu cubes and vegetables on top of the noodles, and enjoy immediately.

Simple Tofu Cubes
Makes 4 servings.

1 block (397 g) extra-firm tofu
1-1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar

Remove the tofu from the package and rinse with cold water.  Using a cheesecloth or clean dish towel, wrap the tofu block and set it on a plate.  Set an inverted plate on top of the tofu, and balance a heavy weighted object on top of the second plate.  Leave for 1 hour to squeeze out the excess water.  Remove the cheesecloth or towel, and cut into 3/4" cubes.  Place tofu into a lidded container, no more than half full.  Use two containers if necessary.

In a small bowl, mix the soy sauce and rice vinegar together, and pour over the tofu cubes.  Snap on the container lid, and shake the container lightly to ensure all of the cubes are covered with marinade.  Place in the fridge for an hour, and up to 5 days.  The tofu cubes can be eaten right out of the fridge, or if you prefer, seared on a hot oiled skillet for a few minutes on each side.


  1. This looks so incredibly delicious. Thanks for sharing! And thanks also for your very thoughtful comment the other day on my blog - it really made me think. Can't thank you enough for bringing such an important and valuable point to the conversation!