Thursday, April 30, 2009

Tofu Stir-Fry with Vegetables

It's all in how you prep the tofu, I've discovered. A self-professed tofu-disliker, I've learned a way to prep the tofu for stir-fry so that the texture is much more like meat... still a bit soft, but much better. You can freeze tofu for a complete texture change--it will become much chewier and hold seasonings/marinades better (freeze for at least 3 hours). Or, you can "press" tofu: slice it across its equator into 2 flat slabs, place between several layers of paper towels, and place a heavy cutting board (plus a couple of cans) on top. It will bulge slightly, but shouldn't crack. Do this for half an hour or so to make it chewier than simply draining it would make it. My favorite version of the recipe below is the peas variation listed under the recipe.

Recipe from How to Cook Everything, 10th ann. edition

  • 1-2 pounds firm to extra-firm tofu, frozen or pressed/squeezed dry
  • 3 T. peanut or other neutral oil
  • 1 large onion, cut in half and sliced
  • 3 bell peppers, 1 green, 1 yellow, and 1 red or any combination, cored, seeded, chopped*
  • 1 T. chopped garlic
  • 1 T. chopped fresh ginger
  • 1/4 c. rice wine, sherry, white wine, or water (I use rice wine)
  • 1/3 c. chicken, beef, or vegetable stock, or water (I use water)
  • 2 T. soy sauce
  • 1/2 c. roughly chopped scallion

*See below for variations--vegetables you can use in place of peppers.

  1. Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch or slightly larger cubes. Put 2 tablespoons oil into a large skillet over high heat (nonstick or well-seasoned cast iron works best). When hot, add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to soften, a couple of minutes. Add the peppers and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until both onions and peppers are crisp-tender and a little charred at the edges, around 5 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside for a moment.
  2. Add the remaining oil, then garlic and ginger, and cook, stirring, for about 10 seconds. Add the tofu and cook, stirring occasionally, until it begins to brown, a couple of minutes. Add the wine and stock/water and cook, stirring, until about half of it evaporates; return the pepper-onion mixture to the pan and cook, stirring for a minute or so to reheat.
  3. Add the soy sauce and scallion and cook, stirring, until the scallion becomes glossy, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.
With Peas (Green peas, snow peas, or snap peas; can be frozen, but thaw first): Onion is optional (I use). Add 2 cups peas in place of peppers and cook just until bright green and beginning to brown.

With Greens (Cabbage, Kale, Collards, or other): Use young greens with stems no thicker than 1/8-inch (or you will need to parboil first). Onion is optional. Add 3 cups shredded greens and cook, stirring occasionally, until wilted and tender (about 5 minutes). Remove and proceed with recipe.

With Broccoli or Cauliflower: Parboil 2 cups bite-size chunks broccoli or cauliflower. Onion is optional; add broccoli or cauliflower in place of peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender but not soft. Remove and proceed with recipe.

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