Cold Asian Noodles with Tofu and Black Garlic Dressing

Cold Asian noodles with tofu and black garlic dressing.

The first time I had a version of these cold Asian noodles, my palate erupted in pure joy, and to this day, I constantly crave them. Once you’ve tasted them, there’s no going back – you’re guaranteed to be hooked by the combination of textures and savory flavors at play. The dressing is made with black garlic, which has been fermented, mellowing the sharp bite it normally has and creating a sweet umami flavor.

Serves | 2 |

Black Garlic Dressing (Yields about 3 cups)

  • 1 bulb black garlic
  • 1½ cups black vinegar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup pecan oil
  • 5 Tbsp chiu chow-style chile oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Tofu

  • 1 package extra-firm tofu, cubed
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 3 Tbsp canola oil, divided
  • 2 Tbsp minced ginger
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 2 shallots, julienned
  • 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup black garlic dressing (recipe below)

Rice Vermicelli Noodles

  • 1 lb rice vermicelli noodles
  • 1 cup cubed cucumber
  • 1 Tbsp chile oil
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh mint
  • 1 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
  • ½ cup finely diced green onions
  • 1 cup roughly chopped peanuts
  • 1 cup black garlic dressing (recipe below)

| Preparation – Black Garlic Dressing | In the bowl of a blender, combine black garlic, black vinegar and sugar and pulse to combine. Slowly stream in pecan oil. Transfer mixture to a bowl, add chile oil and season with salt and pepper to taste. Refrigerate.

| Preparation – Tofu | In a medium bowl, add tofu, salt, pepper and cornstarch and toss to combine. In a medium sauté pan over medium heat, add 2 tablespoons canola oil. Once oil is hot, add tofu and cook until browned on all sides, 5 to 8 minutes. Transfer tofu to a small bowl. Add remaining canola oil to sauté pan and add ginger, garlic, shallots and sugar; season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until translucent; add tofu back to pan along with black garlic dressing. Cook until tofu is well coated and mixture is slightly reduced, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside.

| Preparation – Rice Vermicelli Noodles | In a medium saucepot over medium heat, bring enough water to cover noodles to a boil; add noodles. Cook for 3 to 5 minutes or until desired consistency. Drain noodles in a colander with cold water running.

In a large bowl, combine cucumber, chile oil and sugar; toss to coat and season with salt and pepper to taste. Allow to marinate at room temperature for 5 minutes. Add noodles and all remaining ingredients; toss to combine. Refrigerate for 1 hour. Serve chilled.

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Amanda Elliott is the chef at Peachtree Catering in Columbia, Missouri, and authors the website rusticsupper.com, where she shares recipes centered on the idea of the communal table and embracing the heritage of food through travel.

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