Staying at home (and cooking at home) is the new norm. Many people see this as a culinary opportunity. What a perfect time to try preparing a new food. If you feel up to this challenge, consider making something with tofu. Why you ask would anyone want to eat this bland rather unappetizing glob of soybean curd?!
For starters, tofu is a low cost protein source that can sub for meat in many recipes. Yes, it IS bland and tasteless as is, BUT when marinated or seasoned it deliciously takes on any flavors that you want it to have.
Jenny’s Tofu Challenge
A block of extra firm tofu was hanging out in my fridge with a “use by” date in less than a week. The clock was ticking because throwing out food is NOT cool!
My challenge was to use this tofu in a simple stir-fry recipe that I often make. Normally I would use chicken, shrimp or pork but this time I swapped out the meat for tofu. This is how it went down:
Step One: Press well
Pressing tofu removes water and creates a nice chewy texture. This is NOT hard to do and is well worth the extra step. Simply cut a 16 - ounce block of extra firm tofu into roughly ½-inch slices and place them onto a clean dishtowel. Cover with a second clean dishtowel. Then place heavy pots, skillets, etc. on top and leave it for at least 20 minutes. The dishtowels will be soaked afterwards!
While waiting on the tofu, go ahead and start on steps 2 and 3:
Step Two: Assemble ingredients
¼- cup soy sauce
1-teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons honey
3 tablespoons oil (sesame, coconut or canola oil)
Garlic powder and pepper to taste
1 bunch of green onions, chopped
½ large head of cabbage, sliced thinly
2 large carrots, scraped and sliced into thin circles or strips
3 cups of any other veggies you need to use up (sliced thinly)
I used a combination of mushrooms, green peppers, green beans and celery. Broccoli would have been nice but I didn’t have any.
Step Three: Mix the marinade and add the tofu
Add the soy sauce, ginger and honey to a medium mixing bowl. Use a fork or wire whisk to mix until well blended. Cut the pressed tofu into bite - sized cubes and place them into the marinade. Mix to coat well (ideally allow to marinate for at least 15 minutes but it you don’t have this much time, that’s OK).
Step Four: Start cooking
Heat one tablespoon of oil in a wok or very large skillet.
Stir in the tofu (reduce heat if needed). Keep stirring often until tofu is lightly- browned on all sides.
Return the tofu to mixing bowl for now.
Add remaining oil to wok or skillet.
When oil is hot, add in ALL of the veggies and stir-fry until crisp tender (around 7 minutes).
At some point, add the garlic powder and pepper. If needed, add a bit more soy sauce.
Finally, add the cooked tofu to the veggies and mix well.
Step Five: EAT!!
Enjoy your “very veggie tofu” just as it is. I happened to have some left over brown rice mixed with quinoa, so I served it over that. For a little extra crunch (and protein), I sprinkled sunflower seeds on top.
Written by Jenny Favret, MS, RD, LDN
Nutritionist, Duke Pediatrics Healthy Lifestyles Program