a meat-less asian saute – gone totally right

Well, hello there! I’ve been gone for a while. Still cooking like crazy, but most posts have remained in the drafts folder. I’m hoping to get a few quiet moments more regularly, but most days, it’s just pure busy around the house. Wake up, get ready, work, leave work, pickup kids, do the homework/dinner scramble, leave for activities (often conflicting and in opposite locations), watch activities, return, showers/baths, book time, kids bedtime, and often I’m the next in line. Repeat. If I’m really good, I manage to get myself on the treadmill in the morning.  That’s the usual “during the week schedule” for us.

I’ve dabbled in the past cooking with tofu, and most times, I’ve been disappointed with the results. Not this time. This recipe is fantastic, and could easily be swapped out with various meats, if you wish. The sauce fills in the flavorless void of the tofu, and the vegetables are just the right addition.

The key to this dish is making sure the tofu is completely drained of excess moisture. Also, having patience, the right level of heat, and not disturbing the saute pan yields golden-brown, crispy tofu perfection. Try it for yourself, and you may enjoy just as much as I did … Another bonus? My kids were convinced they were eating chicken. Perfect for a Meatless Monday, or any day of the week.

tofu1

Hot and Sour Seared Tofu With Sugar Snap Peas (and Red Pepper)
Adapted from NY Times
2-3 servings

1 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu (and drained well)
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 small jalapeño chiles, chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce (use tamari for gluten free version)
1 1/2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice
1 1/2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Asian fish sauce
1 teaspoon honey
2 tablespoons peanut oil, more if needed
6 ounces sugar snap peas, trimmed and thinly sliced (I’ve also made with haricots verts/green beans, broccoli or whatever vegetable you choose)
1/2 red pepper, diced
3 scallions, thinly sliced
Crushed red pepper, as desired
Sesame seeds, as desired
May garnish with chopped cilantro or basil.

Drain tofu well, wrap it with a clean dish towel or several layers of paper towels and place on a rimmed plate; top with another plate and some extra weight. Let drain further. (This step is key to golden brown perfection.)

To make the sauce, combine garlic, chiles, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, sesame oil, fish sauce and honey in a small bowl. Unwrap tofu and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Pat slices dry. Heat a large skillet over high heat until hot. Add peanut oil and let heat for 30 seconds, then carefully add tofu. Don’t touch tofu for 2 to 3 minutes, letting it sear until golden brown. Flip and sear for another 2 to 3 minutes.

Move tofu to one side of pan (or temporarily remove from pan and keep warm). Add vegetables and, if needed, a few drops more peanut oil. Stir-fry vegetables for a couple of minutes, being careful not to overcook them. Add sauce and stir well, cooking until vegetables are done to taste, 1-2 minutes. Return tofu to pan and coat with sauce. Sprinkle sesame seeds over tofu and vegetables. Can also garnish with cilantro or basil, if you wish.

Serve with cooked jasmine or brown rice. Enjoy!

tofu2

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