These spicy tofu ramen noodles are drenched in a sweet and umami-kissed sauce with seared tofu. Garnish with cilantro and lime wedges for an easy weeknight dinner!
I love the combination of peanut butter and sambal. There is something so satisfying about the combination of umami with spicy that just screams comfort food to me. Throw in some ramen noodles and add seared tofu for protein, and you’ve got something pretty perfect to dig into!
Why You’ll Love This Spicy Tofu Ramen Recipe
Sambal is a chunkier version of sriracha that (to me) tastes more salty and less spicy. I’ve used it in a sauce slathered over seitan skewers and in croquettes and it not only introduces a perfect amount of heat, but also deftly balances out other flavors in a dish. If you like:
- a kick of heat
- savory, spicy ramen noodles
- seared tofu
- an easy weeknight dinner, and
- a dish that’s totally vegan
… this one is for you!
The Sauce In This Tofu Ramen Dish
The sauce in this dish is so delicious, and perfect drenched over ramen noodles. Once the sambal and peanut butter hit the pan, they release an aroma that is cozy, clean, and irresistible—which is what makes spicy food feel and taste so good in the first place. Once the sauce was done, it clung perfectly to the noodles. I then added some seared tofu and mixed vegetables for an easy, fragrant, and pleasantly spicy dish.
Why Does Spicy Food Taste So Good?
Mixing sambal and peanut butter into your noodles just works. Sambal amps up the heat with capsaicin, while peanut butter, with its umami notes, adds a layer of supreme richness. Its creamy texture not only cools down the heat but also teams up with it, producing a blend of flavors that hits all the right notes.
Now, back to why spicy food tastes so good. Sambal not only sets off your spice receptors, inducing a nice little heat-induced endorphin rush but also heightens your taste sensitivity. Spicy food isn’t just about setting your taste buds on fire: there’s a science behind the heat. Enter capsaicin, the spicy compound responsible for the kick.
When you indulge in spicy delights, capsaicin triggers your taste buds to send signals of mild discomfort to your brain. Oddly enough, your brain interprets this as a pleasurable experience, unleashing a flood of endorphins, the body’s natural mood lifters. So consider this dish as a way to lift your spirits and lighten your mood!
Ingredients In This Dish
This spicy tofu ramen is made with a blend of pantry staples and fresh ingredients. Here’s the rundown on them as well as some substitutions you can make:
Firm Tofu: A star player in this spicy noodle dish, firm tofu brings a satisfying and protein-packed texture. Feel free to sub with extra-firm tofu and cut into whatever shape you’d like.
Dark Sesame Oil: The secret to a rich and nutty undertone in the seared tofu, dark sesame oil adds depth to the overall flavor profile of this spicy noodle dish. Its distinct aroma enhances the dish, creating a savory base.
Soy Sauce: Balancing the umami notes in the spicy sauce, soy sauce complements the seared tofu and ties together the flavors of the dish. Its salty-savory combination brings a harmonious touch to the overall taste.
Shallots: Thinly sliced and sautéed to aromatic perfection, shallots add a subtle sweetness to the spicy sauce. Their contribution enhances the complexity of the dish without overpowering the other flavors.
Garlic: This infuses a robust essence into the spicy sauce. Its aromatic presence elevates the dish, providing a savory kick that plays well with the other ingredients.
Sambal: The fiery soul of the spicy sauce, sambal brings intense heat and flavor to the noodles. Its vibrant profile ensures each bite is packed with a satisfying kick, making this dish so delicious!
Peanut Butter: Creamy and indulgent, peanut butter contributes a velvety texture and nutty undertones to the spicy sauce. Its richness not only tempers the heat but also adds a luxurious element to the overall dish.
Brown Sugar: Providing a touch of sweetness to balance the spice, brown sugar melds seamlessly into the sauce. Its caramel notes add a subtle and pleasant sweetness that complements the savory and spicy components.
Rice Vinegar: Bright and tangy, rice vinegar adds a refreshing acidity to the spicy sauce. Cutting through the richness, it contributes a delicate tang and balances out the sweetness of the brown sugar.
Vegetable Broth: Serving as the flavorful base for the spicy sauce, vegetable broth enhances the depth of the dish. Its savory character complements the other ingredients, creating a comforting and well-rounded flavor profile.
Instant Ramen Noodles: The perfect canvas for this flavor-packed dish, instant ramen noodles soak up the bold flavors of the spicy sauce. Cook according to the package instructions.
Sesame Seeds: Sprinkled on top for a delightful crunch, toasted sesame seeds add texture and a nutty flavor to the finished dish. Their presence enhances both the visual appeal and taste, elevating the overall experience. It’s not necessary to the dish but adds a nice touch.
Sliced Scallions: Fresh and crisp, sliced scallions serve as a vibrant garnish for the spicy noodles. Their mild onion flavor adds a pop of color and a hint of freshness to the dish.
Cilantro: Chopped and sprinkled for a burst of freshness, cilantro adds a lively herbal note to the spicy noodles. Its fragrant essence complements the bold flavors, enhancing the overall taste experience.
Lime Wedges: A zesty finishing touch, lime wedges provide a burst of citrusy acidity. Squeezed over the dish just before serving, they add a refreshing contrast that brightens up the flavors.
Chopped Peanuts: Offering a satisfying crunch, chopped peanuts serve as a textured garnish for the spicy noodle dish. Their earthy notes complement the richness of the sauce, adding a beautiful contrast to each bite.
More Spicy Tofu Dishes To Love!
If you love tofu, here are some great recipes that use it!
- This spicy Tofu Tikka Masala is a great way to enjoy Indian flavors and spices.
- I love this Vegan Mapo Tofu for it’s tongue-tingling heat and texture. Shiitake mushrooms stand in for traditional pork in this recipe.
- Make this Tofu Satay with Spicy Peanut Sauce in the summer for flavors that just sing on a hot day.
- Looking for a lovely, clingy, spicy sauce? Look no further! This Sambal Tofu is perfect nestled up to a side of greens.
- This Double-Dredged Tofu is crispy perfection with gochujang. It’s so good!
- If you are looking for more noodles and heat, this Fire Noodles with Crispy Tofu will definitely hit the spot.
These spicy tofu ramen noodles are drenched in a blend of sambal and peanut butter, a duo that’s so comforting and delicious! This isn’t ramen with broth. It’s ramen noodles tossed in a sauce that’s served with seared tofu.
for the tofu
- 1 block firm tofu (no need to press)
- 2 TB dark sesame oil
- 2 tsp soy sauce
for the sauce
- 1–2 tsp oil
- 3–4 shallots, thinly sliced
- 5–6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
- 4 TB sambal
- 2 TB peanut butter
- 2 TB brown sugar
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 2 cups vegetable broth
7 oz. ramen noodles
- any variety of vegetables like snow peas, mushroom, baby corn, bean sprouts, etc.
- sesame seeds
- sliced scallions
- lime wedges
- chopped peanuts
- Preheat a large cast-iron pan over medium-high heat. Add a little oil to the pan and sear on both sides. Set aside.
- While the tofu is browning, whisk the sesame oil and soy sauce in a medium-sized bowl.
- Once the tofu is browned on both sides, transfer it to the bowl and toss well to coat. Set aside.
- To make the sauce, heat 1-2 tsp oil over medium heat. Throw in the sliced shallots, stir to coat, then saute for about 4 minutes, lowering the heat if they start to brown.
- Add in the garlic, stir, and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Once the shallots and garlic are soft but not browned, add in the sambal and stir, then add in the peanut butter and gently stir until melted. Add in the brown sugar and vinegar.
- Increase the heat to medium-high, then add in the broth. Allow the mixture to come to a full simmer, then remove it from the heat and allow it to cool.
- Boil the ramen noodles according to the package instructions and drain. Toss with the sambal and peanut butter sauce.
- Distribute into two bowls, and top with the tofu, drizzling any extra sesame oil over the top.
- Garnish it with vegetables, sesame seeds, scallions, cilantro, lime wedges, and chopped peanuts as desired. Serve immediately.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Lunch, Dinner
- Method: Seared, Boiled, Sauteed
- Cuisine: American, Asian
Keywords: tofu ramen, tofu ramen recipe, instant ramen with tofu, spicy ramen noodles