Cringing is not welcome as we discuss my latest recipe- see title. Yes, tofu. FYI Paula Deen ate AND LOVED one of the contestant's tofu dishes on the Next Food Network Star last week, so if the butter pork queen can like it, so can you. I love tofu, it is obviously flavorless, & only as good as the marinade you cook it in, or method of cooking you choose. Extra-firm tofu is best for cooking it, assuming you want to keep a shape (cubed, spears...), & silken tofu is great for pureeing into soup, smoothies, dressings- it is a great, LIGHT substitute to mayo or yogurt in the above items.
The most important tip is to weigh down the tofu block to get the excess water out for a few hours. Using the tofu straight from the box is a mistake - it will be very spongy. Place the tofu block in between 2 dinner plates in the sink. Then weigh it down with whatever you have. I put a few plums (or any round fruit- lemon, orange, etc.) in a glass measuring cup, in a 4 qt. pot and put that on top of the plates. It should sit a few hours (the whole thing can be in the fridge if you want, just be careful when taking it out because there will be a lot of water on the plate). When you are ready, spill out the water and you are now ready to work with the tofu. I use tofu as a main dish when I am craving something light yet still filling. My brother makes tofu rectangles with bbq sauce and bakes in the oven. Any glaze or marinade would be great. However, in this recipe, I use the tofu as I would chicken and dredge it in flour for a take on sesame chicken, so to speak.
-Prepare brown rice according to bag's directions
-Place the tofu on a cutting board and cut horizontally, splitting the tofu open- now you have 2 slabs. Then cut down each 4 or 5 times, leaving you with 5 or 6 pieces, and then cut each of those in half. If you lost me, just make any shape you want. For this recipe I like short spears, easiest to work with.
-Put 3 tbsp. flour on a plate, and season with garlic salt & 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds (putting the sesame seeds in the flour really imparts flavor into the tofu) & toss
-Coat each piece of tofu in the flour, & heat a tbsp. or 2 of canola oil in a large saute pan. When the oil is hot, add the tofu & cook 4-5 min per side until crispy and golden brown, then flip each piece. When they're done, place on a paper towel lined plate & set aside.
-Using the same pan, saute 2 stalks of celery, 2 carrots, both sliced on the bias (diagonally). If the pan is dry, add a little oil. Saute a few minutes before adding red, yellow, & orange pepper, thinly sliced. Saute another few minutes & then add snow peas.
-Dissolve roughly a tbsp. of cornstarch in 1/2 cup of Trader Joe's Island Soyaki (it's basically their regular soyaki sauce with pineapple juice- it's soooo delicious. I try to steer clear from buying bbq sauces or marinades that have high fructose corn syrup, I personally don't see the point. So I keep some staple sauces in the pantry for when I decide I am too lazy to make my own sauce. My favorites: TJ Soyaki & Island Soyaki; Kraft Bull's-Eye BBQ sauces...)
-Pour the sauce over the vegetables, add more sesame seeds if you want, and let thicken.
-Make your bowl: rice, top with vegis (you can add any other vegis you want- mushrooms, baby corn, onions...), and then the tofu. Sprinkle chopped scallions over the top. Get everything in one bite! The tofu comes out crispy and the sauce from the vegetables really flavors the tofu even though the tofu itself is not drenched in sauce.
I highly encourage all you tofu skeptics to give it a serious try!!!!!! Seconds & thirds are welcome :-)