Tricky Tofu

If you follow me on social media, you probably saw my new dish that I recently made called sweet chili tofu. Besides people telling me how good it looked; I also got a lot of people that asked how to make tofu because it either always tasted really bland or it ended up falling apart. Well today you’re in luck; I am going to give you some quick tips to working with tofu that I have learned over time. Before we do that though, I thought I would tell you a little about tofu especially for the people that have never heard of it or used it in their cooking. Tofu originates from Japan and is about 1000 years old. It was thought to be made on accident when a chef let soy milk cook too long that it caused it to curdle. Over time it has gained a lot popularity since its low carb, high in protein, and a good substitute for meat (read more here).

The first time I ever made Tofu I didn’t really like it. There was no flavor and it was barely noticeable in my dish because it had crumbled up. It still tasted like plain tofu; even though I added many different seasonings and sauces. Over time I found out what my issues were. First it is was preparation and secondly it was my method of cooking.

Any expert tofu cooker will tell you that you always need to dry off the tofu when removing it from the packaging. This allows for any sauces or seasonings to be more easily absorbed. If you don’t dry it off then it’s much harder for the tofu to absorb all the great ingredients you added. The second trick is to cut up your tofu into half inch squares. That way the marinade/seasonings have more surface area to get into, and it also takes less time for the flavor to be absorbed. Lastly always allow your marinade/seasonings to sit in your tofu for at least 30 minutes. By doing all these three tricks you’ll ensure that all the yummy flavors get into your tofu prior to cooking.

One thing to know is what dish you’ll be cooking so you know what kind of firmness of tofu you will be needing. If you are making a miso soup or a dish that the tofu won’t be the star of the dish you can always go with soft or medium tofu. For the dish that I made you need the tofu to stay together so you will need extra firm tofu. You can find all the different varieties at your local store. Trader Joes usually has 3 to 4 different varieties. Secondly, if you are going to stir fry your tofu or pan fry it make sure that you fold your tofu when stiring and don’t just mix it. By mixing it, the tofu will start to fall apart. By folding the tofu it will keep the tofu intact (read about folding here). Also make sure that you allow the tofu to brown/crisp up on each side so that you get that crunchy exterior but soft interior.

Sweet Chili Tofu with Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 Bag of green beans
  • 1 Block of extra firm tofu
  • 2 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/4 Cup of sweet chili sauce
  • 2 Tbsp of hoisin sauce
  • 1 Tbsp of sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp of rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp of fish sauce
  • 2 Tbsp of corn starch
  • 2 Tbsp of low sodium soy sauce

Toppings:

  • 1 Tbsp of fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 Cup of peanuts (can also use cashews)
  • 2 Green onions

Directions:

  1. Remove tofu from packaging and pat dry. Cut into 1/2 inch squares.
  2. Add tofu to a large mixing bowl and add soy sauce, hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, fish sauce, rice vinegar, and lastly corn starch. Fold in ingredients and let tofu sit in refrigerator for 30 minutes to an hour.
  3. Heat up olive oil in a sauté pan and then add Tofu. DO NOT STIR. Allow each side of the tofu to crisp up and then individually flip every 2-3 minutes.
  4. Microwave or steam your green beans and place to the side to serve.
  5. Once tofu is golden brown remove from sauté pan and add to a mix bowl and then add in sweet chili sauce (fold again).
  6. Cut up cilantro, peanuts, and green onion into small pieces to top off tofu.
  7. Add tofu to a serving platter or individual plate and add a little cilantro, green onion, and peanuts. Then add green beans to the side and lightly salt or add a bit of soy sauce.
  8. A little thing I add to the dish for some spice is sriracha but you don’t have to.

I hope that after you try making this dish, you’ll want to try out other delicious tofu recipes. Trust me you have just unlocked another powerful ingredient that will add a lot of variety to your cooking. Did I mention that its really high in protein and low in carbs, so don’t feel bad having a second or third helping! If you enjoyed this blog post and recipe please share or spread the word. I will be adding many more recipes and more frequently. A lot of people have been cheering on this adventure so I will continue to provide and make your culinary journey a fun and exotic one!

Cheers! Keep on Cook’n!

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