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Soba Noodle Salad and Cast-Iron Tofu

Course Main Course
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 50 minutes
Servings 6 people


Salad Dressing

  • 1/4 cup toasted or un-toasted sesame oil
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp and 2 tsp tahini
  • 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1 tbsp low-sodium tamari
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated


  • 1 package soba noodles (8 ounce)
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 and 1/4 cups)
  • 1 medium yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced (about 1 and 1/4 cups)
  • 3 to 4 green onions, finely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves, minced
  • 1 batch Cast-Iron Tofu
  • fine sea salt
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds, for garnish
  • fresh lime juice, for serving
  • sriracha, for serving

Cast-Iron Tofu

  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu
  • 3 tsp avocado oil, grapeseed oil, or olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp onion powder


Soba Noodle Salad

  1. Prepare the Cast-Iron Tofu 

  2. Make the dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together the dressing ingredients until smooth. Cover and refrigerate to thicken slightly. 

  3. Make the salad: Bring a pot of water to a boil. Cook the noodles according to the package directions. Drain and place in a large bowl. 

  4. Add the bell peppers, green onion, and cilantro to the bowl with the noodles. Add the dressing and toss to coat. Add half the tofu cubes and toss again. Taste and season with sea salt if necessary.

  5. Top the salad with the remaining tofu, sesame seeds, and cilantro scattered on top. You can also add a squeeze of lime juice on top of each bowl just before serving or simply serve with a lime wedge. The salad can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The tofu will soften as it sits, but it's still very tasty!

Cast-Iron Tofu

  1. Press the tofu overnight, or for at least 30 minutes.

  2. Slice the pressed tofu into 9 or 10 rectangles 1/2 inch thick and then slice each rectangle into six squares, to make a total of 54 to 60 tofu pieces.

  3. Heat a large cast-iron (or nonstick) skillet over medium-high heat for several minutes.

  4. In a large bowl, combine the tofu with 1 and 1/2 teaspoons of the oil. Gently stir until all the tofu is coated. Stir in the garlic powder, salt, and onion powder (if using).

  5. When a drop of water gently sizzles on the skillet, the skillet is got enough. Carefully add the remaining 1 and 1/2 teaspoons oil and tilt the skillet to coat it evenly with the oil. Add the tofu to the pan in a single layer (be careful, as the oil might splatter - use a splatter guard, if desired), making sure all the pieces lay flat against the skillet. If your skillet is too small to cook all the tofu at once, work in batches.

  6. Cook the tofu on one side for 4 to 7 minutes, until you have a golden crust with some speckled brown spots (the crust should be about 1/16 inch/1.5 mm in thickness). With a fork, flip each piece (yes, this step is a bit arduous) and cook for 4 to 5 minutes more, until golden. Serve immediately; the tofu crust will soften as it cools. 

Recipe Notes

Tip 1: You can use un-toasted or toasted sesame oil; it's totally up to you! Toasted sesame oil has a much more robust flavor, while un-toasted is more mellow. 

Tip 2: The veggies have a tendency to fall to the bottom of the bowl, so it's good to scoop them up and add them back on top just before serving. 

Make it gluten-free: Use 100% buckwheat soba noodles. Traditional soba noodles are made with buckwheat flour, but some brands incorporate wheat flour. Be sure to check the label carefully and use a brand made with just buckwheat if you want to make them gluten-free.