Happy September! And (at least for us here in the northeast US) the weather has been spectacular. Perfect, in fact, to cozy up with a bowl of these super easy noodles! These slightly spicy vegan cashew szechuan noodles were inspired by my son Jack’s favorite Noodle Bar in Philly, Cheu Noodle. He is back to school in DC, but before leaving he challenged me with creating something similar to the dish he raved over.
“Peanut” Noodles with cashew Butter instead
Jack had the ever popular peanut noodles there, but I thought that I could do something similar with cashew butter. Personally, I like this better! The flavor is a little milder and is not overwhelmed by a peanut taste. Plus, its a great sub for anyone out there with a peanut allergy. (or if you hate peanut butter. Kitty?…Peggy?…) Segue to my plug for an earlier post and I insist that you try this super simple cashew butter recipe. Click here!
Simple Veggie Add-Ins
Very thinly sliced cucumbers and radishes (as served at Cheu Noodle) were a must. I threw in broccoli as Tony doesn’t like tofu (not that he as ever tried it 😉 ) and broccoli-in addition to tofu- works well. Yes, I have had a habit throwing any and all vegetables in my dishes, but again, Jack was right by insisting on simplicity. These veggies provide the perfect backdrop to the noodles and sauce. In this case, less is more.
No Fear Tofu
I admit it. Tofu used to frighten me. As a newbie vegan I had tried it (because aren’t vegans supposed to like tofu?) and grew to really love it, especially if prepared well. But like anything new, I had no idea how to work with it and found it frankly intimidating. YouTube, Instagram, Google…these all had a wealth of information regarding tofu uses and preparation, so I availed myself of the infoweb and now have several go-to tofu recipes. For this dish, I tweaked Maggie Zhu’s Crispy Tofu without Deep Frying, by using a cast iron pan sans oil.
Tofoodies (it should be a word, people) will agree that the first step in preparing tofu requires moisture removal. Slicing the tofu first into bite sized pieces makes this a quick and dirty process:
Tofu is fairly bland but is a master at soaking up whatever flavors you fancy. For this recipe, a simple marinade of tamari and maple syrup works perfectly. After about 15 minutes, toss the drained tofu into your marinade.
Let the tofu hang in the marinade for 15-20 minutes, then drain and gently toss the tofu pieces in cornstarch. In a cast iron pan,”fry” the tofu with a little cooking spray, turning pieces every few minutes until golden brown. That’s it. The tofu is ready!
Putting it all together
While the tofu marinates, prepare the vegan cashew szechuan sauce in a blender or food processor and set it aside.
Next, slice up the cucumbers and radishes (super thin) and cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces. Sauté the broccoli in a large cast iron pan until bright green and crispy and set that aside, too. Now you are ready to brown the tofu as above. Once the tofu is done, pop that on the plate with the broccoli and prepare the udon noodles.
Using the same cast iron pan, I tossed in the szechuan sauce, broccoli and tofu to warm. I then added the drained udon noodles and tossed it all to combine.
Plate with cukes, radishes and a handful of chopped almonds and scallions, your Vegan Cashew Szechuan Noodles are ready to be served…and devoured. Mwah!