Documenting the struggles of one woman trying to live recipe-free.
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
Baked Tofu Stir Fry
It's Wednesday which means tomorrow a new batch of CSA goodies will arrive so I must do the best I can in getting rid of last week's crop. We've been inundated this year with snow peas-- 1.5 lbs each week so far, which means, lord help me, we've consumed 4.5 lbs and expect another 1.5 tomorrow (unless they turn out to be sugar snaps.) I honestly don't have any good ideas about how to use them except in stir fries and once I added a handful, chopped into bite-sized pieces to a salad, but found it kind of boring. So far we've had them stir fried with shrimp, beef, and last week as a side dish mixed with carrots, almonds, and garlic scapes (that was my favorite so far). Tofu was on sale so I thought I'd try that as the protein for what has become a weekly staple meal. Most carnivores I know don't like tofu. It weirds them out texturally or they complain that it has no taste. I love it, but of course, I love it best when it's fried. In fact my favorite tofu dish is pan fried triangles of tofu then top with a mix of soy sauce, hot peppers, cilantro, garlic and lime juice on a bed of raw spinach from the Sundays at Moosewood cookbook. But as much as I love fried tofu, I hate making it-- the spatter of the oil no matter how much I try to squeeze the water out of it always leaves me irritated and feeling like it's more trouble than it's worth. I still wanted some of that crisp edge for a crunch to go with the vegetables so I thought I'd try marinating the tofu and baking it at a high temp. I then aimed to mix the cooked tofu with snow peas, carrots, and shitaki mushrooms that were glazed with Tamari soy sauce and sesame oil, the mixture that I've loved the most for the nutty taste that contrasts with the sweetness of the peas and carrots.
This one was a little bit of a downer though- I'm not entirely sure what to do to improve it, but I think overall it was a bit too sour. The tofu sure smelled good while baking though. The five spice, particularly the star anise, made my nose tingly in anticipation. I think if I did this again, I'd try adding some brown sugar to the marinade and maybe some more five spice powder. We'll see.
Marinade 1 tbsp Hoisin sauce 2-3 tbsp Tamari soy sauce 2 small garlic cloves (or 1 medium), rough chopped 1 tsp ginger, rough chopped 2 tsp Siriacha ("Vietnamese" hot sauce as I recently learned that it's like chop suey and is actually American) 3 dashes of 5 spice-- probably equivalent to 1/2 tsp-- I'd up it to a full. 1 tsp sesame oil little bit of salt and some pepper Protein & Vegetables 1 16 oz block of firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes. (If it's packed in water, place it between two plates and put a bowl of water on top to press out the water first.) 1 lb snow peas, unzipped (you know-- remove the tough stringy part on the size of the pod where the peas are attached) 1 small sweet onion, sliced in half and thinly sliced in half moons 2 cloves of fresh garlic, minced 1 tbsp minced ginger (blech) 3 small carrots, sliced on the diagonal 8 oz shitaki mushrooms, stemmed and thinly sliced 1 tbsp Tamari soy sauce 2 tsp sesame oil, divided 1 tbsp canola oil a little bit of salt and some pepper steamed rice
Mix the marinade together and toss in the tofu. Stir it around and let it marinade for at least an hour. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Spread the tofu out on a baking sheet and cook for 20-30 minutes, mixing them around for even cooking about half way through. Heat the canola oil and 1 tsp of sesame oil over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, toss in the garlic and ginger and stir around for 30 seconds until you can smell it, careful not to burn the garlic. Throw in the onions and stir fry until soft and slightly translucent. Next, add the mushrooms and cook until shiny. Finally, add the carrots and snow peas and cook for another 3-4 minutes until they're a vibrant orange and green color-- that way they're still crisp. I also sprinkled a pinch of sugar over the vegetables to bring out their sweetness. Pour around the soy sauce and remaining sesame oil then stir around so they glaze the vegetables. Put the tofu in the mix then stir it around and serve on rice.
CSA Count: 4 fresh garlic, those damn snow peas, sweet onion, and carrots
This has been a year of terrible personal loss and and terrifying challenges in the form of finishing law school and trying to find a job in this economy. So although the world probably does not need another food blog, I started this as a means of keeping my head above water, to keep me balanced and sane, and to keep tabs on my culinary experimentations. The goal is to live recipe free, to be one of those home cooks who can look at what's available in my community supported agriculture (CSA) share box, on sale at the store, in my husband's garden, or leftover in my refrigerator and transform it into something delicious. I'm translating my efforts into recipes that I can look back on to improve upon or if someone who stumbles on this wants to try it out at home and give me ideas for improvement.
I have no formal cooking training. Anything I know has been gleaned from watching cooking shows, reading food blogs/cookbooks/magazines, and trial and error. I can't say that what I post here is worth replicating at home, but people in my house found it tasty so I'm posting it here primarily for my future reference. Also, if you're a stickler for precise measurements, most of mine are estimates unless it came in a package that told me how much was in it.