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Meatless Monday: Black Sesame Otsu

Looking for a new dish to try out? Today’s Meatless Monday feature is Black Sesame Otsu, a Japanese soba noodle dish.

The recipe does not call for any animal-based products and is completely vegan. If you’re wondering, where the protein is, it comes in the form of tofu. Soy protein is a great source of protein if you’re looking to cut out more meat from your life. If you can also find  organic and non-GMO versions, that’s an added bonus!

Recipe and photo from 101 Cookbooks.

 Black Sesame Otsu


Ingredients (makes 4 servings)

  • 1 teaspoon pine nuts
  • 1 teaspoon sunflower seeds
  • 1/2 cup / 2 oz / 60 g black sesame seeds
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons natural cane sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons shoyu, tamari, or soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons mirin
  • Scant 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Fine-grain sea salt
  • 12 ounces / 340 g soba noodles
  • 12 ounces / 340 g extra-firm tofu
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 bunch green onions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced


  1. Toast the pine nuts and sunflower seeds in a large skillet over medium heat until golden, shaking the pan regularly. Add the sesame seeds to the pan and toast for a minute or so. It’s hard to tell when they are toasted; look closely and use your nose. Remove from the heat as soon as you smell a hint of toasted sesame; if you let them go much beyond that, you’ll start smelling burned sesame – not good. Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush the mixture; the texture should be like black sand. Alternatively, you can use a food processor. Stir in the sugar, shoyu, mirin, sesame oil, brown rice vinegar, and cayenne pepper. Taste and adjust if needed.
  2. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Salt generously, add the soba, and cook according to the package instructions until tender. Drain, reserving some of the noodle cooking water, and rinse under cold running water.
  3. While the noodles are cooking, drain the tofu, pat it dry, and cut into matchstick shapes. Season the tofu with a pinch of salt, toss with a small amount of oil, and cook in a large skillet over medium-high heat for a few minutes, tossing every couple minutes, until the pieces are browned on all sides.
  4. Reserve a heaping tablespoon of the sesame paste, then thin the rest with 1/3 cup / 80 ml of the hot noodle water. In a large mixing bowl, combine the soba, half of the green onions, and the black sesame paste. Toss until well combined. Add the tofu and toss again gently. Serve topped with a tiny dollop of the reserved sesame paste and the remaining green onions.

Find tips and more recipes at the original post on 101 Cookbooks.

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