Spicy Sesame Zoodles? I say yes. And throw in some crispy tofu for good measure. This is SO totally how we roll.
Are you down with this?
It starts with zoodles (zucchini noodles) tossed with a thick and intensely deep spicy sesame peanut sauce that will then eventually get loaded up with crispy tofu that has been made crispy by just pan-frying it with the same spicy sesame peanut sauce, but waiting until those crispy browned bits appear in the pan / wondering if this is going to be weird / actually loving the texture of the browned bits in contrast with the tofu and sesame zoodles.
We are letting this browned bits situation happen intentionally so it feels like we did more work (making an additional crispy topping) than we actually did (re-using the same sauce for everything and calling it good). Do you like this strategy?
No need to go out of our way for multiple sauces with this recipe. You know I’m weak for a one-sauce wonder.
Now that you’re excited about all these chili flavors and crispy-creamy textures, I’m going to present you with the hot vs cold dilemma.
I know. Let me blow your mind for a hot second -> I DID NOT COOK THE ZOODLES. Repeat: DID NOT COOK.
I let them be raw and crunchy because sometimes I find that cooked zoodles are 50% awesome and 50% sad and soggy. When I made this as lunch for myself the other day, I was very okay letting it be more crunchy and salad-like in nature, and also cold. Cold sesame noodles are a thing, you know. So why can’t cold sesame zoodles have their moment to shine? The idea of taking this to the hot level was kind of weirding me out once I had the vision of trying to replicate those yummy cold sesame noodles.
It almost always happens like this – that I have an idea for what I want to make for dinner and then at the last minute I jump ship on whatever my idea was, delete all those grocery items from my grocery list and add a few new ones (or skip the grocery store altogether – amiright?), and just make something that’s way easier and more convenient than my initially overambitious plan.
But usually that’s a good thing, because usually what that means is that I end up making something that is faster, more practical, and tested + approved for everyday life while still being super delicious. Maybe even halfway healthy.
Just everyone cross your fingers that it’s not takeout sushi again. Ughhhh I’m weak.
In this case, sesame zoodles won out over takeout sushi and over my initial idea for a more complicated and time consuming recipe. Easy. Delicious. Halfway healthy. Check check check.
I’m telling you, those browned crispy bits. Let them get REAL nice and crunchy.
- ½ cup peanut butter
- ⅓ cup sesame oil
- ⅓ cup light low sodium soy sauce
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons chili paste (like sambal oelek)
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 knob of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
- 12 ounces extra firm tofu
- 4-6 zucchini
- sesame seeds and scallions for topping
- Chili Sesame Sauce: Shake all the sauce ingredients in a jar or toss them in the food processor and give them a whirl. If you're going to have this cold, refrigerate your sauce for a while.
- Tofu:Press excess moisture out of the tofu. Cut into bite sized pieces. Heat a tiny bit of oil in a nonstick pan. Add the tofu and stir fry until golden brown. Add about ½ cup sauce and simmer until the sauce starts to evaporate / absorb into the tofu and becomes browned in the pan. Keep gently flipping and scraping browned bits off the bottom - after a while, you should end up with nicely golden brown tofu with some little yummy browned bits from the sauce.
- All Together: Spiralize your zucchini and toss with about ¼ cup sauce per serving. Top with tofu, sesame seeds, and scallions. Serve immediately.
You may want to use more tofu depending on how many servings you are wanting to get out of this. I was fine with 12 ounces as 6 servings (just doing a small scoop of tofu on each pile of zoodles) but if you were super hungry you might want more.
Storing this: I would store the sauce separate from the zoodles and tofu, and then toss it all together just before serving.