Stir-Fried Vegetables with Baked Tofu
January 1, 2012
This past week I decided to branch out in my tofu preparation repertoire. I’ve been reading lately about baked tofu, and how baking it can intensify the flavor and make the texture somewhat toothier, so I thought that I’d give that a try. After pondering what kind of marinade to do, I finally settled on something Asian influenced (I just wasn’t in the mood for barbecue sauce in December, which is the type of marinade/sauce everyone on the internet seems to recommend for Baked Tofu 101). Both my husband and I were really pleased with how the tofu turned out. I didn’t even bake it as long as I probably should have (because I was too hungry to wait any longer), but even with that, it tasted really good. I decided the logical accompaniment was stir-fried vegetables, so I used broccoli, pepper, and onion. The organic broccoli that I bought had gigantic tree-stumpish stems, so I thought I’d make some thin slices out of those, and use them as well. It actually tasted a bit like kohlrabi when raw, which was nice — it was like having a fourth, bonus vegetable.
I don’t normally use a large amount of oil when I cook, but I ended up using a bit more than necessary with this recipe. And then spent several minutes exclaiming out loud that I couldn’t believe how much extra I’d supplied to the meal (I really didn’t expect all the marinade to get soaked up by the tofu. And I was unnecessarily worried about stickage with the stir-fry.). So the recipe below is adjusted to take the oil down from 6 tsp to 4 tsp total.
Stir-Fried Vegetables with Baked Tofu
1 block extra-firm tofu
2-4 heads broccoli, cut into small florets, stems thinly sliced
1 red or orange bell pepper, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1/2 red onion, chopped into 3/4 inch pieces
1 tsp peanut oil, for stir-frying
1 Tbsp sesame oil
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp + 1 tsp rice vinegar
1 Tbsp minced garlic cloves
1 Tbsp minced ginger root
1 Tbsp rice wine (not vinegar) or dry sherry
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp agave (or honey or brown sugar)
1 tsp cornstarch
Cut tofu block into 3 or 4 large slabs about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick (cut lengthwise into the side with the 2nd largest surface area (Ooh, geometry – I couldn’t think of any other way to specify it)). Lay the slabs down between layers of towel or paper towels and lay a skillet or heavy plate on top. Leave for about 10 minutes, then move the tofu to a drier area of towel, replace the pan, and let sit for another 10 minutes. Next, cut each slab into 16 triangles (refer to the unnecessarily time-stamped photo below).
Mix the ingredients for the marinade together. In a container large enough to hold all of the tofu pieces in a single layer, pour the marinade over the tofu, and then use a spoon help coat all pieces evenly. Refrigerate for about an hour, then flip all of the pieces and refrigerate for another hour.
Save the garlic and ginger and what ever marinade hasn’t been absorbed by the tofu and set aside. Put the tofu pieces on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray, and bake in a 325 degree oven for about 1 hr. Check the tofu every 15 minutes or so, and flip the pieces. (Honestly, I wasn’t very good about flipping them since there were 48 tiny pieces. And it really didn’t seem to matter that much. I just kind of flipped en masse to move the pieces around a bit, and they didn’t really get flipped evenly).
Mix all of the ingredients for the sauce except for the cornstarch. Add a tiny bit of the liquid to the corn starch, stirring to make a paste, then adding more gradually until the corn starch is dissolved. Then add the corn starch to the rest of the sauce ingredients. Add the garlic and ginger from the marinade as well. Set aside.
After the tofu has been cooking for about 40-50 minutes, heat the peanut oil in a wok, a pan with high sides, or if you don’t have either, a large skillet over medium high heat. Once the oil is hot, add the sliced broccoli stems, onion, and pepper, and cook, stirring very frequently for about 4 minutes. Add the broccoli florets, and continue to cook for a few more minutes, until the peppers and onions are crisp-tender, and the broccoli florets are a bright green.
Add the sauce to the vegetables, and cook for a few more minutes, stirring until the sauce has thickened and coats the vegetables. Plate the vegetables, and add the baked tofu on top.