Noodles with peas, tofu cubes, sliced green onions and cilantro sprigs in a green bowl on dark wood background.

Cold Noodle Salad with Tofu

Long ago, I stopped looking for vegetarian recipes when I was on the hunt for something new. Instead, I just look for GOOD recipes – then I make them vegetarian.

My recipe is a vegetarian version of a recipe from Cooking Light that includes crab meat. Instead of crab, I use tofu and cook the tofu with the noodles so that it absorbs the flavor of the broth. 

When adapting any recipe, it’s so exciting when it’s good! And this is GOOD! Even without the jalapeño and lemon rind, it’s good. (I didn’t have those on hand when I first made it.)

I love this cooking method, because the noodles also absorb all the wonderful flavor of the broth and the cooking aspect is quick. The noodles are just barely cooked while simmering on the stove. Next, you pour the noodles, tofu and broth into a bowl and set that into another bowl full of ice water for 10 minutes. The noodles are still cooking in the broth, but the process is slowed down and they come out chewy, which is what you want – not mushy. 

I am so excited about this idea of cooking noodles in a broth like this, I am trying it with other recipes.

This quickly became a favorite recipe for our family. It’s quick and easy and involves noodles, so my daughter loves it. She’s not crazy about the peas and jalapeño pepper, so I set aside enough for her without those and add baby corn, which she loves. 

The broth has the salt flavor and the peas are sweet, the noodles are chewy and then you get a little bite of spice from the jalapeño. It’s so simple and brilliant.

For those nights when dinner needs to be quick – or even better, it would help to make it the night before, here’s your recipe. This also makes a great vegetarian meal for a picnic. We have done that too.

Close up of Cold Noodle Salad in a white bowl. There is also a small dish with Cucumber Sunomono topped with toasted white sesame seeds.
Cold Noodle Salad with Tofu pairs nicely with Cucumber Sunomono, which is also quick and easy to make.

Make it a meal!

  • This noodle bowl is a meal on its own, but Sunomono – or Japanese Cucumber Salad – goes very well with the noodles and can also be served cold. It offers a refreshing, bright and light accompaniment. This recipe comes from Just One Cookbook. Nami, the blog’s recipe developer, was born in Japan and now lives in California. You will see that this and many of her recipes are NOT vegetarian, but can be adapted.
  • An easy option for dessert would be store-bought mochi ice cream. This kind of mochi often has mango, strawberry or green tea ice cream in the middle surrounded by a japanese rice cake.  If you have never had it, it’s sweet and delicious. Just One Cookbook also has more on mochi – it’s not just for ice cream!

Like this recipe? Don’t forget to Pin it!

Tools needed for this recipe:

  • Measuring cups and spoons
  • 1 medium saucepan for cooking the noodles (at least 3 1/2 to 6 quarts)
  • 1 small saucepan
  • Large bowl filled with ice water
  • Strainer or colander
  • Medium bowl for broth, noodles and tofu

Cold Noodle Salad with Tofu

A quick weeknight dinner with Asian flavors. It has sweet, salty, spicy and satisfies! Pair it with Cucumber Sunomono for a light, bright addition.

  • Author: Laurie Kerr
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegan



4 1/2 cups water

3/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce

3/4 cup mirin

1 1/2 tsp sesame oil

8 oz firm or extra-firm tofu, cut into small cubes

8 oz uncooked, udon noodles (thick, round Japanese wheat noodles)

1 cup fresh or frozen English or Petit Pois peas

4 teaspoons green onions, sliced

3/4 teaspoon lemon rind, grated (optional)

2 teaspoons cilantro, chopped (optional) 

12 jalapeño peppers, seeded and thinly sliced or chopped (optional)

hot chili oil (optional)


  1. Combine 4 1/2 cups water, 3/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce, 3/4 cup mirin, 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil plus the cubed tofu into a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium heat.
  2. Next, add noodles. Cook just 3 minutes – you want them al dente.
  3. Pour noodles, tofu and broth from saucepan into a medium bowl. Set this bowl into a larger bowl of ice water. Cool noodles completely, about 10 minutes.
  4. Bring a small saucepan of water to a boil. Add peas and cook for just one minute.
  5. Drain peas and plunge them into ice water to stop cooking. Drain well.
  6. After cooling, drain noodles, tofu and broth over an empty bowl to save the broth. (See note below about saving the broth, which is an optional step.)
  7. Divide noodles and tofu between 4 bowls. Top with peas (or other vegetable of your choice), sliced green onions, grated lemon rind, cilantro and chopped jalapeño. Drizzle with chili oil, if you like.



  • Other vegetables that would work instead of or in addition to peas are baby corn, purple cabbage (lightly sauteed or raw and crunchy), snow peas or sugar snap peas, and sauteed broccoli.
  • Many times, I skipped the jalapeño pepper and lemon rind, and still loved this dish, so I have noted them as optional. If you are not fond of tofu or cilantro, you could leave those out as well.



  • Note the cooking time of the noodles. This is one time when you are going to undercook the noodles and it totally works. You want your noodles to be chewy, not mushy.
  • If you are new to eating and cooking tofu and are wondering if the process in this recipes cooks it long enough – don’t worry. You can eat tofu out of the package, because it is already cooked. When purchasing tofu, you will see that there is silken, firm and extra firm varieties. For this recipe I find that firm or extra firm works well.
  • This method of cooking the peas is called “blanching.” You cook the food (usually a vegetable) just a short time and then immerse it into cold water to stop the cooking.
  • The original recipe calls for sprigs of cilantro, and while this looks nice, I prefer to chop it up when eating it.
  • I am loath to just throw out all of that yummy broth, even if the noodles have cooked in it. Pasta water is often used to thicken sauces, so why not use this broth in a stir fry later in the week? I did it and it worked out great! Joel Gamoran, author of “Cooking Scrappy” would be proud, I think. Just be sure to refrigerate the broth and use it within a week.
  • The original recipe serves two, but you don’t need to double all of the ingredients in order to make four servings. I played with the amounts, buy using the same ratios for the broth, until I found the right amounts.


  • Calories: 527
  • Sugar: 20.5 g
  • Sodium: 2706 mg
  • Fat: 12.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 1.3 g
  • Carbohydrates: 69.9 g
  • Protein: 35 g

Keywords: Asian noodle, vegan noodles


Leave a Reply