Newsflash! Tofu has become a staple in my dinner repertoire lately. I’m not sure why I haven’t included this power protein packed addition to my recipes in the past, but now that I have concocted ones like this, it’s a no brainer to throw into the roundup.
Fast facts on tofu:
- Tofu is an important source of protein for many vegetarians and vegans.
- It’s naturally gluten-free.
- It may help lower “bad” LDL cholesterol.
- It may offer relief for certain symptoms of menopause.
- One block of tofu contains 177 calories. (except when you slop sauce on it like I did here, but what the heck, right?)
So, my adventure with tofu didn’t just start yesterday. I have always loved ordering this dish at Chinese food establishments and gobbled it down with a side of chicken lo mein. Now, because it was deep fried, tofu in a restaurant basically turned the “good for you” aspect of this ingredient totally unhealthy by adding in unnecessary grease. AH, but there is a way of accomplishing a crispy deep fried necessity without cooking it in an obnoxious amount of oil.
So, how do you get these flavourful little crunchy bites of protein without the added calories? Oh, I’m going to tell you.
First and foremost, buy EXTRA FIRM TOFU. It will give you a more dense ‘meat-like’ texture. In my books, the denser the better. And that only pertains to tofu and not your intelligence.
Next. Squeeze the life outta your tofu. I mean it. SQUEEZZZZZZZZZZZE IT TIL’ IT SCREAMS.
How is this done? Take the tofu block and wrap it in a dish towel or good quality heavy paper towel. Place it on a cooling rack which is on top of a baking sheet. Then you add your weight. What I mean by that is stack heavy objects on top of the wrapped tofu. I just use a large cast iron skillet, but feel free to use anything heavy enough to ensure that the weight will press the tofu liquid out. Examples: A few cans, a kid, your family pet, whatever it takes. Or you can invest in a tofu press and be done with it. I’m not at the point where the investment for this gizmo is imminent, but it may be on my wish list for the future.
This process is KEY. Leave that tofu on your counter for about 30 minutes to an hour, and then remove the heavy object(s). You’re going to be amazed at how much liquid releases from the little block of goodness.
And finally, get yourself a stellar non-stick pan. I have one that I have been using for the past year, which I won in a contest. Not joking here. I did. It’s made by Curtis Stone and I’m not going to lie, it’s the BEST NON STICK frying pan I have ever had. You need virtually no oil to fry with, but the amount that is needed in this recipe is minimal and the results are incredible.
I made this for dinner the other night and posted it on my Instagram feed. Not more than two minutes after it went live, I received a message from my youngest son who said “MOM, THAT LOOKS AWESOME”.
If I ever made this dish for dinner when the boys were younger and still at home, the word “Tofu” would have had them heading for the hills (or McDonalds) in a flash.
See what happens when they grow up? Tofu, or any other home cooked meal that they don’t have to make, looks good to them.
To sum this all up. There are a zillion things you can do with tofu. This could be the start of something big.
- 2 blocks of extra firm tofu (350g each), drained
- 3 tablespoons cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons teriyaki sauce
- 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- ½ cup raw cashews
- 1 green onion, chopped for garnish if desired
- Cut well drained tofu into bite size pieces and place into zipper plastic bag with the cornstarch.
- Close the zipper and shake the bag to coat all the tofu pieces evenly.
- Heat one tablespoon oil in a non stick pan and add in tofu. Stir fry and toss the tofu until nicely browned and crispy.
- Add sauce ingredients and toss until coated and sauce becomes sticky. Add in cashews to heat through. Serve hot and garnish with green onions if desired.