Do You Tofu?

sesame tofu

I do. High protein, low fat, good source of iron and calcium. It takes on the flavor of whatever you cook it with. What’s not to like?

Ok, yes, it is soy. A legume product. Beans. A vegetable. But, it’s good for you, and easy and cooks quickly. What’s not to like?

No, don’t give me that. Yes, I remember the TV comedy episode with the tofurky. And I remember thinking at the time, “the turkey isn’t the high fat, high calorie food you should avoid at Thanksgiving-it’s all the other stuff!”

Yes, it is fermented and sold in a plastic package, immersed in salt water. It doesn’t look like food. It looks and feels like a sponge.

Do you eat the trendy, popular edamame? Sorry to break it to you, but those are soy beans too! So why not try it in a little different, albeit less glamorous form?

Try it. Try this recipe, at the very least. I guarantee you will like it. Eat tofu once a week. Your stomach, your body and your wallet will thank you. And I promise you don’t have to go out and buy some Birkenstocks, grow long hair and a become a card-carrying member of PETA~unless of course you want to!

Sesame Tofu & Veggies

1 16 ounce package extra firm tofu

For the Marinade:

1/4 cup soy sauce

2 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon sesame oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger (or 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger)

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground mustard

1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper

For Veggies:

3 cups sliced carrot

1 cup sliced celery

1/2 cup sliced onion

2 teaspoons vegetable oil

Pinch each of salt and pepper

To Finish Dish:

1/2 cup water

1 tablespoon cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot powder

2 tablespoons sesame seed, plus extra for garnishing

A handful of chopped fresh cilantro

Drain tofu and press between paper towels to dry it out a little. Cut it into 1/2 inch slices, then cut slices into 1/2 inch cubes. Mix together with remaining marinade ingredients above, cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for 2 to 24 hours.

Toast sesame seeds by placing in saute pan over low heat and lightly browning for 2-3 minutes. Immediately remove seeds from pan and set aside.

To cook tofu, heat a couple of teaspoons of vegetable oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Use a slotted spoon to lift the tofu out of the marinade and into the saute pan. Working in batches (so you don’t crowd the pan too much), saute tofu for 3-5 minutes. It should be heated through and lightly browned. Remove to a plate and cook remaining tofu until all is cooked. Don’t throw the marinade away.

For Veggies, heat the vegetable oil in the same saute pan over medium heat and saute vegetables for 5-7 minutes. They should be cooked but still a little firm. Remove to a plate and set aside.

If you’re in a real hurry, add a couple of tablespoons of water to your saute pan and cover it for a couple of minutes. It will steam the veggies a little and they’ll cook faster.

Now mix the cornstarch, potato starch or arrowroot powder with 1/2 cup water and add to the saute pan with the leftover tofu marinade. Cook over medium heat until thickened. Add the sesame seeds. Carefully taste and add salt, pepper or sugar as needed. If it thickens too much, add a little more water.

Serve tofu with the sesame sauce, sauteed veggies and pre-cooked rice, if desired.  Garnish with the fresh chopped cilantro and sesame seeds. Will feed 4-6 people.

Be prepared to fight for the leftovers!

To make an abbreviated version of this recipe, take some shortcuts. Don’t have rice vinegar? Use apple cider or regular white vinegar. No mustard powder or cayenne? Skip it, or add a packet of hot mustard from your last Chinese takeout order (you know you have at least one-hiding in the very back of the kitchen drawer or pantry shelf). If you don’t have time to marinate the tofu, dredge it in the spices and saute it. You can still make the sauce to serve with it. Lastly, use any pre-chopped fresh veggie pack from the produce section of your grocery you like. With those shortcuts you’ll have dinner ready in 20 minutes!