This dish is an utterly inauthentic Japanese-style mash-up, inspired in equal parts by cravings for agedashi tofu and savoury, brothy noodle soups. Despite its simplicity, it’s a textural celebration; you get slippery noodles, crispy tofu, soup and crunchy greens. The dish scales up or down easily; it’s a light dish for four, a very small snack for eight or a big indulgence for two hungry noodle fiends.
When you’re ready to cook, the prep time really is just ten minutes at most, but you will need to remember to start soaking the kombu seaweed earlier in the day.
- 1 piece dried kombu soaked in 1L water for 2–8 hours
- 3cm piece ginger finely grated, reserve the peel trimmings
- ⅓ cup soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp mirin
- 200 g dried soba noodles
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch
- 1 Tbsp tapioca flour
- 275 g tofu cut into 8 equal oblongs, pressed with a paper towel
- 2 cups watercress substitute with spinach
- 1 inch of spring onion cut into fine slivers
- shichimi togarashi (available from Japanese grocers)
- 1 Pour the kombu water into a saucepan, discarding the kombu. Add the ginger offcuts. Bring to the boil and then turn the heat to low and simmer.
- 2 Add the soy sauce and the mirin. The amount of soy sauce in the broth might be a bit salty for some people, so I'd recommend adding it one tablespoon at a time, tasting as you go until you're happy with the flavour.
- 3 Cook the soba noodles according to packet instructions (usually 4 minutes in boiling water) drain and rinse thoroughly in cold water. Set aside.
- 4 Put the cornstarch and tapioca flour into a shallow dish and roll the tofu pieces in the mixture until evenly coated. Heat a frying pan on a medium heat with enough neutral-flavoured oil added to cover the bottom. When the oil is hot, carefully place the tofu in the pan, rotating as each side becomes golden. Remove with a slotted spoon and place on paper towels to soak up some of the oil.
- 5 Remove broth from heat, and sieve out the ginger pieces. Place watercress or spinach into the bottom of your serving bowls, top with soba noodles and pour over broth until the noodles are almost covered. Finish with two pieces of crispy tofu (or one, if serving eight), and a garnish of fresh ginger, slivers of spring onion and a dusting of shichimi togarashi (a slightly spicy combination of pepper, sesame seeds, orange peel, ginger and seaweed).