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A wonderful recipe when you need something a little different to tease your palette. I love black sesame paste, especially when sweetened in Chinese desserts. Soba noodles are made from buckwheat flour, so if you are wheat-free these are a very flavorful alternative! This recipe comes from Heidi Swanson’s super natural every day cookbook. She also has a gorgeous cooking blog filled with interesting stories and eye-candy photographs.

Black Sesame Otsu (soba noodles, black sesame paste, tofu and green onions)

1 teaspoon pine nuts

1 teaspoon raw sunflower seeds

½ cup black sesame seeds

1-½ tablespoons natural cane sugar

1-½ tablespoons shoya, tamari or soy sauce

1-½ teaspoons mirin

Scant 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

2 tablespoons brown rice vinegar

1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Fine grain sea salt

1-½ cup extra firm tofu

Extra virgin olive oil

1 bunch green onions, thinly sliced

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 heat as soon as you smell a hint of toasted sesame; if you let them go beyond that, you’ll start smelling burned sesame- not good.

Transfer to a mortar and pestle and crush the mixture. The mixture 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.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the soba and cook according to the package instructions until tender. Drain, reserving 1/3 cup of the noodle cooking water, and rinse under cold water.

While the noodles are cooking, drain the tofu, pat dry and cut into matchstick pieces. Season the tofu with a pinch of salt, toss with a small amount of oil and cook in a large skillet under medium-high heat for a few minutes, tossing every couple of minutes until the pieces are browned on all sides.

Reserve a heaping tablespoon of the sesame paste, then thin the rest with 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 gently again. Serve topped with a tiny dollop of the reserved sesame paste and the remaining green onions.

I served mine tonight with a side of sautéed asparagus, beet greens and shiitake mushrooms. Delicious!


Swanson, H. (2011). super natural every day: Well-Loved Recipes from My Natural Foods Kitchen. New York: Ten Speed Press.