That was my husband's reaction when I told him what was for dinner last night. And the words were accompanied by the kind of face that conveys more horror than eager anticipation. Tofu does not have a good rep in this house. Firstly, my husband has a deep-rooted suspicion that I am trying to turn him into a vegetarian by stealth, so feels the need to stock the fridge with large packs of bacon now and then, just to reiterate his refusal to comply with my apparent cunning plan. if you are a frequent visitor here, you will know that over the years we have turned more to plant-based meals, but that meat still features in our diet, and I don't see that changing. Nevertheless, I do like to 'poke the bear' by occasionally leaving packets of soy chorizo or nutritional yeast around - hehehe!
Secondly, the results of many of my attempts to work with tofu have not been exactly spectacular - we just don't like the texture of it, which to me, often seems to be akin to that of meat fat, not my favorite thing in terms of mouth-feel. I have had wonderful tofu dishes in restaurants where they achieve a great crispy exterior that prevents this, but I have never been truly able to replicate that at home. And there is a general...err... resistance to these efforts having any kind of frequency...
So I was intrigued recently, when I came across a recipe that used tofu, but called for grating it, rather than cutting it into chunks. And, as should have become evident, when culinary curiosity is piqued in this house, there is a usually a visit to the store soon afterwards, and I start experimenting! I was pretty delighted with the result, and the process, discovering that with the tofu I used, you didn't have to grate anything as it just fell apart for me. Having never made this dish before, I made very few tweaks to the original (from Bon Appetit), but I did add more flavoring, since tofu is such a blank canvas, and we like our food flavorful and rich in this house. I also felt that it didn't have enough vegetables in it for my taste, so I upped the quantity of scallions/green onions, and also did a broccoli side (see below), which, together with the tofu, will definitely find a spot in regular rotation here, as it was equally delicious.
All in all, a plate of yummy goodness. It may not have completely converted my husband to the vegan future that he clearly fears his wife envisages, but it did at least ensure that the reaction to the word 'tofu' might not be quite so unfortunate next time round!
Adapted from Bon Appetit
1 16oz block of extra-firm tofu, drained
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp aleppo pepper (can be substituted for 1/2 tsp of chili flakes/crushed red pepper flakes)
6 scallions/green onions, green and white parts sliced
4 TBSP soy sauce
2 1/2 TBSP mirin (sweet Japanese rice wine)
2 TBSP unsalted butter
cooked long grain rice and sesame seeds for serving
1. Break the tofu into pieces and squeeze over the a bowl until it is as dry as you can get it. If it is anything like mine, the tofu will break up into tiny pieces as you do so. If not, you can grate it to obtain the desired consistency. Once it is broken on, blot it with kitchen towel to make it as dry as possible.
2. Heat oil and garlic in a large skillet over medium heat until garlic starts to turn golden. Add the aleppo pepper and stir to combine. Stir in the tofu, breaking it up further with the spoon if need be. It should start to crisp up, which is exactly what you want. It will start to turn golden on the edges. At this point, stir in the scallions, soy sauce, miring and butter and continue to cook until the liquid is almost evaporated.
3. Serve over rice, and sprinkle sesame seeds over the top if desired.
Adapted from Showmetheyummy.com
1 lb broccoli, cut into small florets
1 TBSP coconut oil, melted
3 TBSP soy sauce
3 TBSP seasoned rice vinegar
1 tsp sriracha
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp garlic powder
1. Preheat oven to 400F (200C).
2. Line a 15"x11" rimmed baking tray with parchment paper and spray with canola oil spray
3. Put the broccoli florets in a large bowl. Mix together the coconut oil, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sriracha, ginger and garlic. Pour over the top of the broccoli and toss to coat.
4. Spread the coated broccoli over the prepared baking tray and bake for about 25 minutes, stirring half way through.