How to make a vegan tofu noodle bowl
Vegan crispy tofu noodle bowl is my new “go-to” for Meatless Mondays. Crispy, sweet and spicy tofu atop fresh Asian noodles tossed in a flavorful sauce. This bowl is also packed with herbs and vegetables which makes me feel downright virtuous.
Fresh lo mein noodles form the base of this bowl. Topped with cubes of crunchy tofu, veggies and herbs, this Asian bowl is great for meal prepping or weeknight dinner.
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Vegan noodle bowl
I’ve been really lax about my eating habits lately and have paid the price. I’ve not been feeling quite as “healthy” as I normally do and I am making a deliberate effort (along with the rest of the world) to get back on track.
One of those ways is Meatless Monday. Now, before you write any emails telling me that noodles aren’t healthy… all of Asia can’t be wrong.
And did I mention that a bowl of spicy noodles is quite literally my favorite thing on the planet? Seriously. It’s my happy place.
Besides, I’ve added in plant-based protein, a hefty amount of veggies and a few handfuls of herbs which means it isn’t all bad.
Crispy tofu noodle bowl
If you’re looking for vegan Asian recipes, this one is a winner. It’s not meant to be anything other than what it is. A hodgepodge of delicious ingredients found at my local Asian market.
Meaning, there are no rules. This was what I could find at my market. If you live in an area with a sizeable Asian population, take a trip to a local market and find some new favorites.
Because this is a mash-up of different ingredients, use whatever you like or have available to you. As long as it is delicious, that’s all that matters.
What’s in the bowl?
A few of these ingredients might be unfamiliar. Below, I’ve labeled everything in the tofu noodle bowl so you can identify them in the store.
You can leave out or substitute anything that you don’t like or can’t find.
- Fresh lo mein noodles – Use whatever Asian noodles you can find. Flat rice noodles or soba noodles are widely available in grocery stores and make good substitutes.
- Chinese broccoli – Known as gai lan in Cantonese, this green vegetable can be substituted with broccolini or broccoli rabe. Another option would be to swap it out for bok choy.
- Edamame – Sold in the frozen vegetable section. Available both in and out of the pod.
- Tofu – Made from soybeans, also called bean curd, it is common in Asian and vegetarian/vegan cooking. It is a good source of plant-based protein.
- Red cabbage – I chose red cabbage for a bit of color, you can substitute Napa cabbage or green cabbage.
- Beech mushrooms – Also called Hon Shimeji mushrooms, these small brown mushrooms can be swapped out for fresh cremini or button mushrooms.
- Red pepper – red bell pepper, use whatever color pepper you have.
- Sprouts – I used mung bean sprouts, use whatever sprouts you have available to you, or omit if you can’t find.
- Mint – the freshness of mint is wonderful. Instead of regular mint, Thai basil would be brilliant here.
- Cilantro – If you are one of those people who taste soap when you eat cilantro, feel free to omit it or substitute with a different herb.
- Scallions – also called green onions, make sure you wash well to remove any sand trapped in the layers.
- Perilla – this herb most commonly seen in Korean cooking is in the mint family. You can substitute with Japanese shiso leaves.
- Lime – regular limes from the grocery store, unless you come across kaffir limes. In that case, you struck the jackpot.
- Peanuts – I love the crunch and saltiness of chopped peanuts. Substitute with cashews or almonds if you prefer.
How to make
Before you begin, read the instructions all the way through. The directions are not difficult at all, but there is a bit of multi-tasking.
The first step is draining the tofu. You’ll need to weigh it down between layers of paper towels or clean kitchen towels to soak up the excess liquid. Once it is drained, let it marinate.
While the tofu is soaking in the marinade, sauté the veggies and cook the noodles according to package directions. Then add the tofu to a hot pan and cook until crispy.
Place cooked noodles in bowl, top with sautéed vegetables, herbs and crispy tofu.
Used in Asian Noodle Bowl
• sesame oil – made from sesame seeds, this oil is nutty and flavorful. Most grocery stores carry it – make sure it is toasted, not untoasted.
• kekap manis (sweet soy sauce) – sweet, thick sauce, great as a marinade and it’s vegan
More meatless recipes
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Vegan Crispy Tofu Noodle Bowl
A delicious vegan tofu noodle bowl packed with veggies and herbs.
For the bowl
- 1 lb. fresh lo mein noodles, or sub rice noodles, soba, etc. - cooked according to package directions
- 1 package extra firm tofu
- 1 bunch cilantro, washed and leaves picked
- 1 bunch mint, washed and leaves picked
- 1 bunch scallions, sliced
- 1/2 bunch perilla, washed and sliced into thin strips
- 1/2 cup peanuts
- 2 cups shredded red cabbage, sub green cabbage or Napa
- 1 red pepper, sliced into thin strips
- 1 cup sprouts - I used mung bean
- 1 cup edamame
- 1 lb. Chinese broccoli, or other hearty greens
- 1 package brown beech mushrooms, cleaned, sub cremini or button mushrooms
- 1 lime
- 1 TB canola oil
- 1 TB sesame seeds, optional
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 TB sesame oil
- 1 TB rice wine vinegar
- 1 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 TB sugar or honey
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- Drain the tofu on paper towels. You will need a few layers of paper towel underneath and on top of the tofu. (I put mine on a small baking sheet and set another baking sheet on top of it, then I put a gallon jug of water on top of it to weigh it down. You will need to change the paper towel once (maybe twice) until it no longer soaks through.)
- While tofu is draining, make the marinade. In a small bowl, whisk everything together and set aside.
- When tofu has been sufficiently drained, place tofu in shallow bowl and add marinade.
- Let tofu sit in marinade for 30 minutes, flipping over halfway through, then remove.
- While tofu is marinating, sauté the vegetables - In a medium pan, over medium high heat, add 1 teaspoon canola oil, then sauté the cabbage, mushrooms and red pepper just until softened and set aside. (You can add a splash of the marinade to the pan, if desired)
- Bring a small pot of water to a boil and cook the Chinese broccoli for 3 - 4 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- In a medium pan over medium high heat, add remaining canola oil. To the pan, add tofu in a single layer and sear (without moving it) for 5 minutes or until a nice brown crust forms. Flip over and sear the other side. A cast iron pan works great here, but if you have a seasoned wok, use it.
Build your bowl
- Layer noodles on the bottom and pile all of the vegetables on top. Add herbs, peanuts, sprouts and edamame. Toss with a few teaspoons of soy sauce (or Kekap manis!) and sesame oil.
- Pile crispy tofu on top, sprinkle with sesame seeds and dig in.
If you are in an Asian market, these foods may have other names. What to look for-
Perilla - also known as shiso or tia to. The leaf is green on top and purple underneath.
Brown Beech mushrooms are also known as hon shimeji mushrooms
Chinese Broccoli - also known as Gai Lan
Alternately, you can cook the tofu in the oven. Toss with a little cornstarch and bake for 25 - 30 minutes.
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Serving Size:1/4 recipe
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 797Total Fat: 59gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 41gCholesterol: 126mgSodium: 2707mgCarbohydrates: 137gFiber: 21gSugar: 26gProtein: 69g
Nutrition information calculated by a third-party company as a courtesy. It is intended as a guideline only.
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Originally published 10/2/17, most recent update 1/4/21