If you’re primarily a carnivore like I am, you might be inclined to pass on this one. This dish is strictly vegetarian but I if you wouldn’t consider it as a main dish, it might be a suitable side. In an effort to give you a better idea of our typical weeknight fare, I share this with you. It’s also easy to put this meal together, so it’s perfect for busy weeknights. For my fellow tofu fans, I’d also like to show you my easy, fuss-free way of preparing this protein-rich gem. You won’t need your frying pan and gallons of cooking oil to achieve a crisp outer skin for your “fried” tofu.
I hate to fry anything in my kitchen. I don’t like the greasy stove-top and the foul aroma of stale oil that are the unavoidable side-effects of the activity. So as much as I like fried foods, I leave my favorite restaurants to deal with the mess. This aversion to frying at home did not bode well for enjoying perfectly cooked tofu. My early efforts yielded mangled cubes whose faces stubbornly stuck to the pan. What pieces I would salvage were too soft to be appealing in a stir-fry dish.
Thankfully, once every thirty-something years, I’m surprised by an Aha! moment. I thought, “Why not use the broiler?” I use it for everything else, after all. Imagine my delight when this worked. All I had to do was drain the tofu, toss the pieces in a quick marinade and broil for a few minutes. The result was a nice, crisp, caramelized outside with a tender inside–and no mess! Problem solved and tofu consumption has increased exponentially since.
For tonight’s dinner, I simply stir-fried the broiled tofu with some baby bok choy, garlic and oyster sauce. I served it with steamed rice (well, also char siu–Chinese barbecued pork–but this is a vegetarian post, remember?) and Monday night’s dinner was complete.
Marinated Tofu and Vegetable Stir-Fry
- Baby Bok Choy (or your favorite vegetable)
- 1 block extra-firm tofu, drained then cubed into 1-inch pieces
- Oyster Sauce (I use a vegetarian mushroom-flavored sauce, Lee Kum Kee brand)
- Olive oil
- lemon juice
- Sweet or regular soy sauce
To prepare the tofu: In a medium-sized bowl, toss the tofu cubes in some olive oil, soy sauce, lemon juice and garlic (you can even use granulated garlic, I did). I like to use kecap manis, a sweet soy sauce that performs well in this dish. It’s not runny like regular soy sauce so it sticks to the tofu and lends to the deep dark outer “skin”. You can marinate for at least thirty minutes but it would also work well if you broiled right away. Lay the tofu cubes in a single layer on a foil-lined baking tray. The olive oil should keep the tofu from sticking but feel free to use some Pam spray just in case. Broil for a few minutes on one side and toss the tofu once or twice more to brown the other sides.
For the stir-fry: Heat some olive oil in a pan, add the garlic and also the baby bok choy and oyster sauce (maybe 2 tablespoons or so). Cover and simmer for a minute or two until the greens cook. Add the broiled tofu, plate and serve.