It is my firm opinion that tofu gets a bad rap. I have many a friend whose reaction to tofu is “Blech!”
Maybe it was my years spent as a vegetarian – or maybe it’s just my highly sophisticated palette, but I happen to think that tofu is wonderful.
It’s a completely kid-friendly food (my babies used to eat it raw, cut into cubes, for breakfast, lunch or dinner!). It is totally variable – and takes on the taste of whatever you cook it with. And it can be 100 different textures, depending on how you prepare it.
My first encounter with tofu was back in high school, when I invented a stuffed pepper recipe with rice and “scrambled” tofu. It was kind of bland, but that dish proved to be the culinary gateway to my love affair with tofu.
If you are in the anti-tofu camp, I think the texture thing may be holding you back. Fortunately, tofu doesn’t have to be a mushy mouthful. I get nice firm tofu by doing the following:
- Buying the extra firm refrigerated tofu – I know some people like the shelf-stable stuff, but that, to me, is way too mushy
- “Draining” the tofu by layering slices between paper towels and then putting a wooden cutting board, weighted down by a few cans of beans, on top – leave it for a few minutes, then discard the paper towel
- Lightly pan frying the tofu before adding it to my recipe
If you do these three things, you will have nice, firm tofu, ready to be added to any recipe you’d normally use boneless chicken breasts for.
When you really want to up the ante, though, try this delicious crunchy sesame tofu. I can’t even remember where I first found it, but I’ve been making it for a while now and don’t even need a recipe anymore. I think it will make even the nay-sayers think twice about tofu!
Crunchy Sesame Tofu
- 1 block extra firm tofu
- soy sauce
- 1/4 cup sesame oil (or 1/8 cup sesame, 1/8 cup olive oil – or just splash some in the pan, that’s what I do!)
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
- chopped green onions for garnish, optional
1. Cut tofu in half width-wise, then cut into slightly-less-than centimeter-wide slices. Turn your slices, and cut diagonally, into triangles. Drain them, as described above.
2. Dip triangles in soy sauce and then dredge in flour.
3. Heat oil in wok or frying pan, then add tofu triangles and gently fry on both sides. If you have trouble flipping them, try using a fork instead of a spatula.
4. Remove tofu from wok.
5. In the same pan, lightly fry the sesame seeds until golden brown. Add a few drops of soy sauce and stir once more in the pan.
6. Add the tofu back into the wok and gently toss together.
7. Serve with brown rice, steamed or sauteed vegetables and dipping sauce (if desired – but everybody loves to dip, in my experience!).
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 1/3 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (optional)
- 1 clove garlic, minced (optional)
- 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced (optional)
- 1 scallion (green part only), thinly sliced on the diagonal
Whisk ingredients together in a medium bowl and serve together with tofu triangles.
Do you love tofu? Or does the mere thought of it make you go, “Blech!”? Let me hear from you in the comments section!
And don’t forget to share your tofu recipes – either in the comments, or by linking up with the linky.