Soba Stir-fry: A Healthy Start to the New Year

Like millions of others, I’ve vowed to become healthier in the new year, which means more exercise, more vegetables, and less cheese. Inspired by Mark Bittman’s NY Times article, “Chop, Fry, Boil: Eating for One, or 6 Billion,” in which he trumpets the wonders of stir-fries, salads, and legumes with rice, last night I decided to make a soba stir-fry. Soba are thin Japanese noodles made from buckwheat flour. They’re often used in soup, or eaten cold, but I thought they’d be a nice base for the mixture of  tofu, carrots, mushrooms, and scallions I had. Brown rice or even rice sticks would also work well, and the vegetables can be varied depending on what you have on hand.

Soba Stir-fry

As always, vary the spices and ingredients according to your taste, and what you have on hand. I had roasted Kasugai peas and some Thai chili lime cashews, so I chopped those up and added them in at the end for extra crunch. Peanuts or sesame seeds would also work well, or they can be omitted entirely.


  • 14 ounces (one package) extra firm tofu
  • 8 ounces soba noodles
  • Sesame oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
  • 3 teaspoons grated ginger
  • 2 serrano chiles, diced
  • Dash of fish sauce (use Auntie Anne’s vegan version or sub Bragg’s Liquid Aminos for a truly veg-vegan dish)
  • Dash of soy sauce
  • Vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 large carrot, cut into small matchsticks
  • Mushrooms, sliced (a mixture is ideal, but any will do)
  • 5 scallions, chopped
  • 1 small bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • Roasted Kasugai peas, chopped
  • Nuts or peanuts, chopped
  • 1 lime, quartered

Drain the tofu. Place on a clean cutting board or countertop between layers of clean towels. Place a weight on top (an enamel cast iron pot filled with water works well) and let sit for at least fifteen minutes. Cut into small squares.

Begin to cook the noodles according to package directions.

Over medium heat, in a large pan or wok (I use a big paella pan), add a small amount of sesame oil. Add garlic, serranos, and ginger. and let cook for about 3 minutes. Add a dash of soy sauce, raise the heat, and add tofu, browning tofu on each side. Add a dash of fish sauce, brown sugar, and enough vegetable broth to make a small amount of sauce in the pan. Add mushrooms and carrots and cook over high heat until mushrooms are tender, and carrots are cooked but still crunchy. Toss in drained noodles. Add extra sesame oil if desired. Toss in scallions, cilantro, roasted peas, and chopped nuts. Serve hot, in bowls, with a wedge of lime.