Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Tofu and Tomato Stir Fry
This is weird, right? Tofu and tomatoes together? I know, that's what I thought, too. Tomatoes are not the first thing I think of when I think tofu (soy sauce is the first thing I think of when I think tofu). And tofu is not the first thing I think of when I think tomatoes (basil is). And I admit, it took me a few bites to decide that I liked this; it's not clear immediately that they play well together. Which I guess is really not something I should say if I want you to make this, huh?
However, I had an overflow of tomatoes from our CSA (clearly I made this a few weeks ago) and I didn't want pasta or caprese or tomato sandwiches... and I had tofu in the fridge. So I googled. And came across this little number on Epicurious, from Charles Phan, the chef at the famed Slanted Door restaurant in San Francisco. I was skeptical, but you can't learn if you don't try, right? And while it wasn't the obvious home run combo of chocolate and peanut butter or figs and bacon, tofu and tomatoes was good. Good enough that you shouldn't discount it immediately, is what I'm saying. Give it a try. I'm curious to know what you think.
Since I am, ahem, prone to adjusting recipes based on what I have, I made a few changes to the original. First of all, I don't often deep fry at home, so I used my usual tofu frying method: shallow oil, cast iron skillet. If you wanted it crispy you could dredge it in corn starch first. I added a bell pepper because there was one in the crisper. And I used rice vinegar instead of mirin because I was out of mirin. You could add more vegetables if you had them, I bet broccoli rabe or arugula would be a nice counterpoint to the sweetness of the tomatoes.
Tofu and Tomato Stir-Fry
I like to press my tofu before I slice and cook it so it lets go of a lot of water and absorbs the marinade better. I find that it improves the texture and makes it easier to stir-fry. I prop up one end of a cutting board so it slopes into the sink at just a slight angle, then put the tofu on the cutting board. Lay a paper towel on the top of the tofu, then balance a saute pan on top and put a couple of cans of whatever's in the cupboard in the saute pan to give it some extra weight. Then I just leave it alone for half an hour or so. It's less precarious and easier to set up if you don't make the cutting board slope into the sink, but then the tofu just sits in a puddle of its own liquid instead of really draining. Remind me to take a picture of this step next time I blog about a tofu recipe...
14 ounces firm or extra firm tofu (I generally buy Nasoya brand, which comes in 14 ounce packages, but up to a pound is fine), cut into bite-sized cubes
1/4 cup canola or vegetable oil
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sriracha or similar hot chile sauce
3-4 medium sized ripe tomatoes, cut into wedges (about a pound)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 a large onion or a whole small onion, sliced
1 bell pepper, sliced into strips
2 tablespoons rice vinegar (preferably unseasoned)
cooked white or brown rice for serving
basil chiffonade or sliced green onions for garnish
Mix the soy sauce and sriracha together in a medium bowl. Pat the tofu pieces dry, then add them to the marinade in the bowl, tossing gently to coat each piece. Let stand 15 minutes while you cut the vegetables.
Heat the canola oil in a large wide skillet over medium high heat. Add one piece of tofu; if it sizzles, add the rest. You may have to do this in batches. Cook, turning occasionally so all sides brown, until the tofu is golden brown and crispy on the edges. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels or a paper bag.
Turn the heat down to medium and add the onion slices, cook for 2 minutes until the onion is just starting to go translucent, then add the garlic and bell pepper strips. Cook for about a minute, stirring constantly so as not to let the garlic burn, until the pepper is just tender (it will still be crispy, add it with the onion if you prefer a softer pepper). Add the tomato wedges and cook for just a couple of minutes until the tomatoes start to break down and give off juice. Add the rice vinegar and cook for about a minute to deglaze the pan, then add the tofu to the pan and stir to combine everything, then remove from heat and serve over rice. Season with salt (or soy sauce) and garnish with strips of basil or green onions if you like.