Soft soba noodles entwined with raw zucchini noodles, gently massaged kale leaves, crispy tofu and a spicy lemongrass dressing makes this lemongrass tofu salad a taste and texture explosion.
This recipe was originally published on November 14, 2017 and updated on February 16, 2023 with ingredient substitutions and images, process instructions, FAQs and new images.
Why I Think You'll Love This Tofu Salad
I love the zing and spiciness of this lemongrass tofu salad. It's fresh, zesty and altogether delicious.
Ingredients & Substitutions
Lemongrass. Use the white end of the lemongrass or, in a pinch, you could use a half-teaspoon of the cold pressed lemongrass paste that comes in a tube.
Oil. Sunflower, peanut or another neutral flavoured oil.
Chillies. I use long red chillies here and remove the seeds before chopping. Use half if you don't like too much heat.
Lime juice. There is nothing like fresh lime juice but if you don't have it, add a touch more rice wine vinegar.
Soy sauce. Or tamari for a gluten-free version.
Sugar. You can use maple syrup or any liquid sweetener here too.
Rice wine vinegar. This vinegar is lovely and light but black vinegar will work or more lime juice.
Mint. For freshness. If you prefer coriander, go ahead and use that.
Firm tofu. As we are frying the tofu, use organic firm tofu if you can get your hands on it. Medium tofu will work too but not silken tofu. We're not looking for a scramble here.
Soba noodles. I love soba noodles and how quickly they cook. However, for a gluten-free salad, use rice, kelp or any gluten-free noodles you prefer.
Zoodles! Zucchini cut into spirals is endlessly fun and refreshing. I have a spiraliser but if you don't, cut the zucchini as finely as you can. Or just buy the zoodles from your supermarket or whole foods store.
Cornstarch makes the tofu extra crispy when frying and it's naturally gluten-free.
Kale or any fresh greens you like, really. You could even shave in Brussel Sprouts for a nutritious crunch. I love kale but I always make sure to give it a really good massage with a little sunflower oil to tenderise it. That stuff can be chewy!
You'll find full instructions and measurements in the recipe card at the bottom of the post.
Step 1. Make your lemongrass tofu salad dressing. To make the dressing, simply whisk the ingredients in a bowl, making sure the sugar dissolves.
Step 2. Cook your noodles according to the packet instructions before draining them and running them under cold water. I add a touch of oil to the cold noodles - just a few drops - to keep them from sticking together while I prepare the rest of the salad.
In a large bowl, combine the soba noodles with the massaged kale leaves - don't forget to massage your kale! - and toss together.
Step 3. Grill the tofu. Pop the cornstarch and salt into a large bowl and toss the tofu through, making sure to coat well. Shake of any excess.
Heat the sunflower in a skillet over medium heat until the oil spatters when you flick it with a few drops of water.
In batches, fry the tofu cubes until each side is golden before placing the cooked cubes on absorbent paper.
Step 4. Assemble the salad. Divide the noodles and kale into bowls before topping each with a good handful of zucchini noodles. Add the crispy tofu cubes and finely chopped cucumber before drizzling a few spoons of the lemongrass dressing over the top. Finish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds or chopped peanuts.
If the hot weather insists on arriving each year, I take comfort in beautiful fresh plates like this lemongrass tofu salad.
With it's soft noodles and refreshing zoodles, crispy salted tofu and chilli lime infused lemongrass dressing, this bowl is refreshing enough to get me through the sticky but quick enough to prepare I don't break a sweat.
As is, no. But for a gluten-free version, swap the soy sauce for tamari and use gluten-free noodles such as rice noodles.
Pressing tofu is simple, it's just about applying enough pressure to squeeze out the liquid. I have instructions with pictures over at my Marinated Tofu Feta recipe.
More Refreshing Salads
Want more plant-based goodness?
Lemongrass Tofu Salad
- 1 lemongrass stalk white parts only, finely chopped
- 1 long red chilli deseeded and finely chopped
- 1-2 tablespoon raw sugar
- 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lime juice more to taste if needed
- 1½ tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sunflower or peanut oil
- 1 tablespoon mint leaves finely chopped
- 300 grams firm tofu drained and pressed for 20 minutes
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2-3 tablespoons sunflower oil for frying
- 270 grams dried soba noodles
- 1 cup of zoodles or 1 large zucchini cut in to ribbons
- 1 cup kale finely sliced and massaged with a few drops of sun flower oil (massage for a good minute or two)
- 1 lebanese cucumber finely chopped
- 2 tablespoon black sesame seeds or chopped peanuts
For the Dressing
- Whisk the dressing ingredients in a bowl and set aside to infuse.
For the Salad
- To make the salad, cook the soba noodles according to the packet instructions (I cook mine for three minutes rather that the packet's four minutes) before draining them and running them under cold water.
- In a large bowl, combine the soba noodles with the massaged kale leaves and toss together.
For the Tofu
- After pressing the tofu for around 20-minutes to release some of its liquid, cut it into ½-inch cubes.
- Pop the cornstarch and salt into a large bowl and toss the tofu through, making sure to coat well. Shake of any excess.
- Heat the sunflower in a skillet over medium heat until the oil spatters when you flick it with a few drops of water.
- In batches, fry the tofu cubes until each side is golden before placing the cooked cubes on absorbent paper.
- To assemble the salad, place the soba noodles and kale in each bowl before topping with a good handful of zucchini noodles. Add the crispy tofu cubes and finely chopped cucumber before drizzling a few spoons of the lemongrass dressing over the top. Finish with a sprinkling of sesame seeds or chopped peanuts.