One of last week’s new recipes was another tofu recipe. I’d been a little overzealous in my tofu purchasing, and as a result had several containers of it to use. Unfortunately a lot of the cookbooks I own don’t feature tofu recipes, or at least not ones that sound good. So I was relieved to discover this one, in my Flat Belly Diet book (Yes, I own one. Don’t judge me.). It not only sounded good, but also called for ingredients I already had at home. So I made the recipe that same night.
Broccoli and Tofu Stir-Fry with Toasted Almonds (Flat Belly Diet by Liz Vccariello, p. 215.)
- 4 cups broccoli florets
- 1 package (1 lb) extra-firm tofu, diced
- 3 tsp toasted sesame oil, divided
- 1 bunch scallions (about 8 ), trimmed and thinly sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 small jalapeno chile pepper, seeded and finely chopped*
- 3 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds, lightly toasted
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
“1. Lightly steam the broccoli for about 5 minutes, or until crisp-tender. Set aside.
2. Heat 2 teaspoons of the oil in a wok or large nonstick skillet over high heat. When hot, add the tofu and cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes, or until browned. Transfer into a shallow bowl.
3. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to the wok. Heat for 30 seconds. Add the scallions, garlic, chile pepper, and broccoli. Stir-fry over medium-high heat for 2 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, almonds, and tofu, tossing gently to combine. Divide the stir-fry and brown rice evenly among 4 plates.
* Note: wear plastic gloves and keep hands away from eyes when handling fresh chile peppers.”
I thought it was funny that the recipe had to specify how to handle hot peppers. I guess I forget that some people are just starting cooking, and wouldn’t know that. This is also partially funny because I won’t handle hot peppers. In fact, I won’t even cook them. If a recipe calls for them, I just omit them. I don’t have much tolerance for that kind of heat in my food. A dusting of chipotle is usually the most I can handle. So leaving out the chile pepper was my primary modification to this recipe. The only other ingredient I tweaked was the scallions. My scallions looked a bit dodgy, so instead I used a baby Vidalia I’d picked up at the grocery store on a whim.
Regarding preparation, I changed a lot, though, starting with the tofu. I had learned from one of the library’s vegetarian cookbooks that tofu has a nicer texture if you press and dry it. So the first thing I did was slice the slab of tofu in half to create two thinner, flatter slabs. Then I placed them between two glass plates and pressed. I learned with the first slab that too much pressure is not a good thing. That piece of tofu didn’t seem to get any drier than the second one, but did start to fall apart. The second piece I pressed more softly, but for a longer period of time. That piece did not start to fall apart. Phew! Once both slices were drained from their pressing, I wrapped them with paper towels and dried off as much additional moisture as I could.
Once the pieces were as dry as I could get them, I diced them, and then threw them into a bowl. I decided while they waited, they could marinate, for extra flavor and better texture, so I added double the soy sauce and sesame oil called for in the recipe, put a lid on the bowl, shook it gently to coat all pieces, and left it to absorb the flavor while I cooked the rest.
My broccoli was frozen, and I didn’t feel like getting yet another pot dirty, so I skipped the steaming process. Instead I sauteed the thinly sliced baby Vidalia and garlic in a mix of olive and sesame oil (I never measure–just splash in what looks right.) until softened and then added the broccoli. Once that defrosted, I added the tofu and remaining liquid from the bowl, added a third measurement of the soy sauce and sesame oil to prevent burning, and sauteed until the tofu seemed firmer and golden brown on the outside and the broccoli was cooked the whole way through. I forgot to add the almonds into the mix until I’d finished cooking it, since I was toasting them while cooking everything else, and forgot them. My multitasking skills are slipping. The almonds do taste better toasted, by the way. I did a taste test before mixing them in.
The good news is that despite, or perhaps, in some cases, because of my adjustments, the dinner turned out delicious. The tofu had a much nicer texture than the time I cooked it without pressing and drying, and a nicer taste as well. The almonds gave a nice bit of crunch, and the rice absorbed any of remaining liquid, for some extra flavor. The meal was filling without being too heavy, and is obviously nutritious. Brian liked this so much he asked me to make it again soon. And I will.
***Make sure that if you need this dish to be gluten free that you use gluten free soy sauce. I use the San-J brand.***