Spicy Garlic Noodles with Crumbled Tofu and Cucumber Salad

February 18, 2015
10 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 30 minutes
  • Cook time 25 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

This savory, heady combination is reminiscent of Szechuan pork noodles, but believe me, you will not miss the meat. The contrast of flavors and temperatures makes this dish especially satisfying. It keeps well if made ahead of time, intensifying in flavor. These noodles are excellent hot, cold, or room temperature. —Nathalie Nicole

Test Kitchen Notes

This gem of a recipe is quick, simple, and delightfully full of flavor. It also came together with mostly pantry staples plus a quick stop in the produce aisle for one or two items. The cool, crisp cucumber salad can stand all on its own, but serves as a perfect counterpoint to the silky, spicy noodles. —chezjewels

What You'll Need
  • For the cucumber salad:
  • 1 large Persian cucumber, diced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 handful cilantro leaves
  • 1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon grapeseed oil (or other neutral tasting oil)
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • For the noodles:
  • 1 (16-ounce) box fettuccine noodles (or other thick wheat noodle)
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 14 ounces extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 teaspoon Chinese five-spice powder (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil
  • 4 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1 inch knob of ginger, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce or Bragg's liquid aminos
  • 2 tablespoons chili sauce (I used Sriracha)
  • 2 tablespoons agave nectar (or honey)
  • 1/2 cup broth of choice
  • 2 sliced scallions, for garnish
  1. Salt the diced cucumber and allow it to sit in a tea towel-lined colander for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, boil the noodles according to package directions. Once drained, toss them with the sesame oil. Wrap the towel around the cucumber and gently squeeze out some liquid. Combine cucumber with the remaining salad ingredients in a bowl and set it aside in the refrigerator.
  2. Crumble the tofu into a mixing bowl and combine with the cornstarch and five spice powder. Coat the bottom of a wok or frying pan with peanut oil and heat on high until it’s almost smoking. Brown the tofu, stirring continuously, until it resembles cooked, ground meat. Remove the tofu from the pan and set aside; don't clean the pan.
  3. Add the mushrooms, shallots, ginger, and garlic to the pan, using more oil if necessary. Lower the heat to medium and sauté until the mushrooms are golden and the shallots are slightly caramelized. Add the soy sauce, chili sauce, and agave nectar. Return the tofu to the pan. Add the broth to the mixture and cook for an additional minute, stirring to combine.
  4. Toss the mixture with the noodles and scallions. Top with cucumber salad.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • gingerroot
  • Melissa
  • Cindy Choi
    Cindy Choi
  • Karen Gilmore
    Karen Gilmore
  • Sherry Zaks
    Sherry Zaks

22 Reviews

sarah P. February 12, 2023
This was fine. Would have been better if I'd gotten the ratio of sauce to noodles correct (I downsized for two people). I disagree that it is an "easy" recipe or quick recipe. There is a lot of chopping, it's easy to overcook the noodles and make them mushy, it takes much more oil and time than recipe indicates to sautee the mushrooms, etc, and get them golden brown.
Judy N. June 6, 2022
Yum! I baked the tofu at 425 until crispy and it came out great! Next time might use soba or lo mein noodles.
gingerroot August 25, 2020
This is a delicious and easy dish, perfect for hot summer nights. I made it exactly as recipe, with the exception of adding more vegetables to the cucumber salad (radish, Hakurei turnip, chopped dandelion greens, chopped escarole) because of my CSA bounty. Has an umami almost peanutty flavor. Will definitely make again!
Melissa November 9, 2019
Delicious! I doubled the recipe thinking we would have leftovers and we 4 people ate almost all of it! Used half the chili sauce and that was plenty of heat. The cucumber salad really cut the heat. I might cut the garlic in the salad next time as others have suggested. Served it with a nice gruner vetliner. Mmmmm.
Cindy C. July 1, 2019
Mixing the tofu and cornstarch and frying it is genius! I made this as zoodles and they were the most delicious zoodles ever. I skipped the cucumber salad and noodles since I was zoodling and I just made the tofu part. I didn't have 5 spice so I added hoisin sauce from the squeeze bottle with the sriracha and soy. Also, I skipped the broth since zoodles are watery already. This is going into my annual zoodle rotation!
Karen G. May 2, 2018
Delicious! Next time I will not use any garlic in the salad , I’ll just add it to the sauce. The raw garlic is too overpowering and doesn’t help “ cool “the heat of the noodles , as it’s ment to. The only other change I’ll make next time is to use sambal instead of Shircha. I served it in bowls with steamed sugar snap peas. My tofu hating husband ate every last bit
Sherry Z. March 24, 2018
I just made this and absolutely ADORE the dish. I made a few mods: (1) Slicing, rather than dicing the cucumbers makes them more manageable, especially with chopsticks, (2) I had korean gochujang in the house, which I used as the chili substitute and it's AMAZING (3) I had a leftover bunch of kale and I cut the leaves into strips and folded them in with the chicken broth and they added some nice texture to the dish. Also, I'm not usually a tofu person, but this dish has me converted. WELL PLAYED.
Samantha September 14, 2017
Wow! This was so delicious! My only concern was that 2 cloves of garlic for 1 Persian cucumber was way too much. The only Persian cucumbers I've ever seen are very small - smaller than kirby cucumbers - so I'm not sure what exactly a "large Persian cucumber" is. Either way, I decreased the amount of garlic based on my taste, and devoured this dish (the salad/main dish were fantastic together). I will definitely make it again, but double the tofu/sauce part, because I felt that I could have used a bit more on the noodles. Thank you!
Kaila S. March 17, 2017
This recipe was absolutely delicious!! I had no issues with the tofu sticking to my pan. I skipped the mushrooms since I didn't have any on hand - I'm sure it's even tastier with them! My husband said "this is the best tofu dish we've ever made." Definitely making this again.
The I. November 3, 2016
The tofu stuck to the pan so bad I think I lost 1/3 of it. Outside of that though, the recipe was really good. Everyone enjoyed the flavor. I only used about 25% of the heat for my family and that was enough for them. I also doubled the amount of sauce as we preferred to go with a more sauce to pasta ratio.
Shine January 30, 2016
Made it with ground pork & lots of homemade chili garlic paste and served it on Chinese noodles. So delicious and quick to prep.
Alexandra G. January 26, 2016
This was SO good! I baked my tofu on parchment paper first and then tossed it in at the last minute (I'm a fitness competitor so this helps with cutting down on oil). Healthy and full of flavor! Thanks!
Denise June 29, 2017
I tried the parchment method and I'm hooked! Great idea. So easy!
cindy August 12, 2021
how did you bake the tofu?
Kelley July 6, 2015
Taste is good but the tofu stuck to the pan really bad. Next time I will use ground turkey or ground beef. I think I would do better with meat.
Anna June 1, 2015
But - so easy to make and delicious to boot!
Anna June 1, 2015
Next time, I will use a little less ginger and way more spicy chili paste.
Denise May 24, 2015
Wow! So delicious. I had to work a bit to keep the tofu from sticking to the bottom of the pan, but it was worth it. I got a lot of crunch. I didn't have any cilantro on hand and I used whole wheat spaghetti in place of fettuccine, otherwise I followed your recipe. I sweetened with honey and my chili sauce of choice was Sambal Oelek. A wonderfully balanced dish. Thank you!
vrunka April 15, 2015
yum -- thanks for this recipe. Made this tonight and loved it!
Rick April 11, 2015
My gosh this might be the tastiest thing to come out of my kitchen in a while! Absolutely delicious. Used an english cuke because all I had. No matter, less water to draw off. Perfect for us spicy noodle heads. Don't care where you are, carryout will not compare! Yum!!!
Jason March 30, 2015
Wow! I made this last night and it exceeded my expectations (which were already very high!) I was a bit reluctant to use the wheat noodles, but they were great and really stood up well to the sauce and cucumbers. Thanks so much for sharing!
ECMotherwell March 23, 2015
Made this last night with ground turkey rather than tofu, and it was delicious and FAST. The recipe is definitely going into regular rotation; I can't wait to make it again. Many thanks to Nathalie for a wonderful meal!