Meatless Monday: Adventures in Tofu

Yup, I did it. I made my dad eat tofu. My mom and boyfriend both refused….baby steps.

Tofu is a soybean product that comes in many different forms–silken, soft, firm, extra firm. The softer versions can be blended into shakes or smoothies for a protein boost, and they can even be used as a sour cream substitute for dips or creamy sauces.

I used the firm tofu (it comes packed in water) for a healthy version of a stir fry. Generally speaking, stir frys are pretty healthy anyway, but I like to one-up things, à la Penelope from SNL.

Tofu tastes like…nothing. Really. It’s that mild. So I decided to marinate my tofu before I threw it in the pan with all of the veggies. So first, I drained it from the package and sliced it into about 1/2-inch slices. I then laid them out on a paper-towel covered baking sheet, covered them with more paper towels, and then set a heavy pan on top to soak up all of the extra water that was inside the sponge-like soybean product.

Squeezing all the moisture outta the fu

Out of curiosity (I am human, after all) I smelled the soaked paper towels when I took them off of the tofu. It smelled like Michael’s, the craft store. Like…paper mache or craft glue or something. Anyone else here sniff things?

I’ve had tofu before, plenty o’ times. But this was my first time cooking the meatless substance. I whisked together some soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and fresh chopped ginger to marinate the tofu in. Exact measurements were not use and if I were less lazy, I would have thrown in some chopped up garlic, too.

I cut the tofu into cubes and poured the marinade over them. Let that sit in the fridge for about an hour before I took it out to toss into the stir fry.

Cubin

Stir frys are fun cause you can use whatever veggies you’ve got in the fridge. We had: onion, carrot, bell peppers, sliced mushrooms from a meal last week, snap peas, and bok choy. I also added bean sprouts and water chestnuts (I would’ve added baby corn but the grocery store deprived me of them. Psh.)

Attempt 1 at capturing all the ingredients
Attempt #2

Here’s the recipe for my tofu stir fry. Have fun with it

What you need:

  • 1-2 Tbsp. EVOO
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small brown onion, chopped
  • 1 package of firm (or extra firm) tofu, cut into cubes and marinated
  • 1-2 bell peppers, cut into strips
  • 1 carrot, cut into strips
  • 1 small bok choy, chopped
  • Handful or two of fresh snap peas
  • Handful of sliced mushrooms
  • Grated fresh ginger, to taste
  • Red pepper flakes, to taste

Stir It Up

  1. Pour the EVOO into a hot pan (medium-high heat) and add the onions. Cook for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic  and ginger and cook for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add the cubed tofu and cook until even browned. You can dust the tofu with cornstarch or flour to give it a darker brown.
  4. Add the bell peppers, carrots, bok choy (not the leafy part) and snap peas, cooking for about 5 minutes
  5. Add the tops of the bok choy, the mushrooms and red pepper flakes, cooking until heated through.
  6. Remove from heat while you make the sauce

Ingredients for Sauce

  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 4 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 Tbsp honey (or agave)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce (go for the reduced sodium one, or try gluten-free tamari. yum!)
  • Cornstarch slurry (2 Tbsp water mixed with 2 Tbsp. water)

Let’s Get Saucy!

  1. Heat the water, vinegar, honey, and soy sauce over medium heat until simmering. (*Note: this sauce is pretty sweet. I would almost suggest cutting down on the honey and amping up the soy)
  2. Simmer from two minutes, then add the cornstarch slurry. It should thicken right away. Stir out any clumps.
  3. “Pour” (it’s so thick you kind of have to plop it on the stir fry) over the stir fry and mix well.
  4. Serve on top of your favorite rice (we did brown) or noodles!

Tips and Variations:

  • Easily substitute your favorite chicken or steak for the tofu
  • Be creative with your veggies: broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, eggplant
  • Add sriracha for some heat
  • Top it off with snipped scallions
  • Serve with peanuts, cashews or crunchy rice noodles on top for some texture variety

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