Tasty Tofu

13 Jun
I think I posted earlier in the week about our resolution to eat one crock pot meal and one vegetarian meal each week.  Vegetarian food has been shown in a lot of studies to have health benefits, plus it’s cheaper and adds variety to our diet.  Every once in a while we enjoy meals from the local vegetarian place, but in an effort to branch out I’m attempting my own.

This week, we decided on an Asian-inspired tofu dish.  First of all, neither of us is a big fan of the “flavor” of tofu.  Frankly, tofu tastes sort of like soap to me.  But I’ve had it once or twice where whatever was paired with it was good enough to make the whole dish taste good.  So I figured it was worth a shot.  We bought a giant package of firm tofu at Coscto last weekend (8 pieces for $2.90!) and I got to work as soon as I got home.  It only took about 50 minutes, start to finish, and that’s cooking all the veggies after everything else was finished (since we only had two pans clean – oops!).

I decided to just sort of mess around with what we had in the fridge rather than go with a recipe – so the amounts can definitely be tweaked and your mileage may vary (I usually wait until the second time or more after I make something to post it, but I figured this tasted too good not to share).  I did end up using chicken broth (instead of the veggie broth listed) because that’s what we had open (so, yes, I know, it’s not 100% vegetarian)- but veggie broth would bring similar flavor to the party.  And, yes, this is a fried tofu application, and I’m aware of the fact that it’s probably not the healthiest way to go.  Since my primary concern was getting things to taste good, I didn’t really worry about the healthfulness of the pan frying – but I’m sure now that if you baked these babies in an oven to crisp them up instead you’d be just fine.

Elisa’s Asian-Spiced Tofu

  • firm or extra-firm tofu (we used two pieces, because I wasn’t sure about serving size, but you could probably just use one for two people; the sauce proportion will be fine because it will reduce), cut into small chunks
  • 2 tbsp light soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp fresh grated ginger
  • 1/4 tsp prepared horseradish
  • 3-6 cloves garlic, smashed or cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 tsp dijon mustard
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • a few dashes each of pepper and ground cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 cup vegetable broth (water or white wine would probably be fine too)
  • 1 egg, beaten slightly
  • 2/3 cup flour, seasoned with paprika and lemon pepper (DON’T add salt; the soy sauce and broth are salty enough!)
  • 1/2 package panko bread crumbs

Mix together soy sauce, ginger, horseradish, garlic, mustard, oil, peppers, and broth.  Place tofu chunks in the soy sauce mixture and let marinate for 20-25 minutes, turning every few minutes to allow even marination.  

Prepare a breading station – the seasoned flour in one plate (you can be fancier but I use paper plates because they’re easy), then a small shallow bowl with the beaten egg in it, and then the panko next to it.  Last, you’ll need an empty plate to put your prepared tofu on.

Marinate the tofu well; we used 2 pieces of tofu, so we needed to move it around a lot

Marinate the tofu well; we used 2 pieces of tofu, so we needed to move it around a lot

Once the tofu has marinated for 20 minutes or so, you’ll want to bread it.  First, dip it in the seasoned flour.  Then in the egg, and then cover it well in panko.  You’ll want to use one hand for the wet (taking the tofu from the marinade into the flour and dipping it in the egg and transferring it to the panko) and one for the dry (dipping the tofu into the flour and putting it into the egg, and covering it with panko), or have a helper.  Otherwise you’ll end up with a sticky mess (even so, you’ll probably need a wet rag handy).

our ghetto breading station... hey, who said you need to be fancy?

our ghetto breading station... hey, who said you need to be fancy?

tofu, dipped in flour and egg, ready to be rolled in panko

tofu, dipped in flour and egg, ready to be rolled in panko

breaded and ready to be cooked!  (yes it's a paper plate...  shurrup...)

breaded and ready to be cooked! (yes it's a paper plate... shurrup...)

Once all the tofu pieces are breaded, heat a small amount of oil in a skillet (or spread the tofu on a baking sheet and bake them) over medium heat.  I used a large skillet and worked in three batches, draining the oil by placing cooked tofu pieces on paper towels.  Dump the marinade into another pan and reduce it over medium heat (small bubbles – if it’s boiling, turn it down!).

frying the tofu; leave space between each piece to get each one crispy!

frying the tofu; leave space between each piece to get each one crispy!

reducing the sauce

reducing the sauce

Serve over rice with veggies (we sauteed onions, peppers, and peas together and wilted cabbage with garlic).  Seriously, with or without the sauce, this stuff is DELICIOUS!!!

YUM!

YUM!

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