Adventures In Tofu

A Complete, Meatless Meal

You know, tofu’s gotten a pretty bad rap over the years.

I’ve tried awfully hard to like it, if for no other reason than that it’s a cheap, healthy source of protein, but other than the tofu I had at Little Tibet recently and my favourite non-fish sushi item (inarizushi) I’ve never really managed to get on board.  Though I’ve certainly tried…

When I lived on my own there were numerous occasions where I tried to prepare something resembling tasty tofu, but no matter how flavourful the dish’s components, the tofu still came across as being spongy, bland and flat.  I gave up hope altogether until I tried that tse-tofu, which left me emboldened, vowing that I would find a tofu dish to call my own.  A few weeks ago I thought the aleppo marinade would be the key, but it didn’t manage to penetrate the rough, crumbly exterior, either.  I’d all but thrown in the towel again, except I’d bought several blocks of tofu in anticipation of my success, so I knew I had to attempt at least one more dish.  It took me a while to formulate another plan; I’m infinitely less picky when it comes to vegetarian meals than the Everyman is, so I knew that whatever I made needed to be bold.

After searching for ideas on Epicurious, I came across a recipe that I thought would make a good jumping off point.  I wasn’t keen on the idea of what was essentially boiled tofu, but I did agree with one of the reviewer’s comments about sautéing the tofu to crisp it up.  The recipe also provided a helpful suggestion for removing excess water from the tofu; just wrap it in paper towel and zap it on high a few times and you’ve got yourself a firmer, denser block of sustenance.  Beyond those few tips though, there really aren’t many similarities with that dish and what I ended up with.

First I browned some chopped garlic scapes in olive oil to perfume the oil, then once it was hot I added the slices of tofu.  I fried them on both sides until they were crispy and golden brown.  In the meantime, I also toasted some sesame seeds and chili flakes together until the pan began to smoke.  I put them aside and removed the tofu from it’s pan.  Next, I deglazed the pan with a splash of water (though broth would have been an excellent choice, too) then added a dash of fish sauce, a spoonful of hoisin, some ketchup, a squirt of rooster (sriracha) and the reserved toasted seeds and flakes.  I swirled the whole thing around and gave it a taste.  It was almost there, so I added a shake of soy sauce and tested again.  Perfect!

Simmered

I let it reduce down a little and added the tofu back into the pan so that it would begin to glaze.  I spooned sauce over the tops and flipped the pieces every few minutes.  Before I knew it, the tofu took on a lacquered appearance.

You Can Win Friends With Salad!

Served over a bed of wild edible greens, heirloom cherry tomatoes and sunflower sprouts, it was lip-smackingly tingly enough to satisfy even the picky Everyman.

Success!

Foodie’s Spicy Glazed Tofu

1 block of firm tofu, rinsed, wrapped in paper towel and microwaved for 30 seconds (repeat 3 times)

2 tbsp sesame seeds, toasted

0.75 tbsp chili flakes, toasted

2 garlic scapes, chopped

1 tbsp olive oil

dash of fish sauce

1 tbsp hoisin sauce

2 tbsp ketchup

sriracha to taste

0.5 tbsp soy sauce

Toast sesame seeds and chili flakes until fragrant, reserve.  Microwave the tofu until firm, then slice into rectangular blocks.  Add olive oil to a pan with garlic scapes, and cook until softened.  Add tofu slices to pan and saute until crispy and brown, about 5 minutes, removing to plate.  Add a quarter cup of water to pan and remove any burnt scape bits.  Next, add fish sauce, hoisin, ketchup, sriracha, soy sauce, sesame seeds and chili flakes, and stir until combined.  Reduce heat to medium low and add tofu back into pan, spooning sauce over the tops.  Allow to simmer for about 10 minutes, flipping and spooning sauce halfway through.  Once the sauce has reduced to a syrupy consistency, remove from heat and serve over a bed of greens.

Serves 4.

Until next time…

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