sweet & spicy tofu with broccoli

August 13, 2013 § Leave a comment

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I have never eaten meat regularly. When I was a kid meat was my green peas. Many nights I heard “You will sit at the table until you eat it.” And I did sit there more nights. I plain didn’t like it. When I got older I rarely ate red meat. I think my biggest consumption of meat was during my college years, way too many late nights of buffalo chicken fingers. So when I made the decision to stop eating meat entirely a few years back, it didn’t seen like that big of a shift in lifestyle. And to be honest, it really wasn’t. I went from eating meat maybe once a month to not at all.

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Over the past couple of years, no meat eating has forced one new food introduction, tofu. I found myself still yearning to make some of my old stir-fry recipes that I loved, but they all seemed to call for chicken. For a while I just set all these recipes aside thinking there was nothing to be done.

When I tried tofu for the first time, I did not like it. Like anything, it took a little bit of getting use to both the texture and the flavor. And honestly, I didn’t know how to cook with it, well not well at least. I definitely made some bad tofu recipes those first few times. But overtime I have not only come to really like tofu as an ingredient but I have learned how to cook with it.

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This has caused an influx of Asian-influenced recipes in our house. Anytime I see a recipe with meat now, I feel confident substituting tofu. And 90% of the time I’m happy with the outcome. There are some recipes that just don’t work with tofu and I toss it. But I think you can say that for almost any new recipe you try, trial and error is always half the battle.

Serves 4
Inspired by the Yotam Ottolenghi

3/4 cup brown jasmine rice
1 head of broccoli, chopped
15 oz. extra firm tofu
4 tablespoons sunflower oil
1/2 cup cornstarch
4 shallots, chopped
pinch of red pepper flakes
5 cloves of garlic, chopped
1/2 tablespoon ginger
6 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sugar
fresh black pepper
5 green onions, sliced

Drain tofu and wrap in a paper towel. Allow the tofu to dry out while preparing rice and broccoli.

Bring 1 1/2 cups of water to a bowl. Once boiling add the jasmine rice, cover and reduce to low heat. Simmer for 35 to 40 minutes until all the water is absorbed.

Steam broccoli over boiling water in a strainer. Steam for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring occasionally, until broccoli becomes bright green.

Heat a large pan over medium-high heat. While the pan is warming, slice tofu into small cubes. In a large bowl, toss tofu with cornstarch until all sides are covered. Pour 2 tablespoons of sunflower oil into the pan. Add the tofu to the pan and make sure each piece is touching the bottom (otherwise you will want to do the tofu in batches). Fry for 10 minutes (do not stir). Stir and cook for another 10 minutes, mixing occasionally, until the tofu is crispy and slightly brown. Pour into a large bowl and set aside.

Turn heat down to medium and place 2 more tablespoons of sunflower oil into the pan. Add the shallots, garlic, ginger and pepper flakes. Saute for 10 minutes. Add the soy sauce, sugar and black pepper and turn the heat up to medium-high. Cook for 3 more minutes, until the soy sauce has slightly thickened. Toss in the tofu, broccoli and green onions and allow everything to heat through.

Place a bit of rice in the bottom of 4 bowls and top with the tofu and broccoli mixture. Serve immediately.

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