Sometimes, after I’ve had one too many servings of pad thai, my gut starts crying out “tofu and greens! Tofu and greens!” I’m not exactly sure why this is – perhaps it’s a throwback to my high school vegan adventures, or maybe it’s the fact that my mother raised her chilluns on a strict diet of hippy food. Anyway, when the urge hits, I turn to one of my favourite tofu recipes. It’s so simple that it’s almost an exaggeration to call it a recipe. Let’s just say it’s a way to make tofu taste like delicious ambrosia – not estrogen.
- Garlic cloves to taste (if you’re like me, 10 should do it. If you’re like T-bone, stick to half a clove)
- Red Chillies to taste (I like to add 2 small ones to this recipe)
- Sesame oil
- Soy sauce or oyster sauce
- White vinegar
- Ginger root to taste
- black pepper
- extra-firm tofu
- leafy green vegetables (I used a rapini/broccoli Thai hybrid, but you could use anything from broccoli to bok choy to kale)
- cooking oil (I used soybean cuz that’s what our convenience store sells)
I deliberately did not give exact quantities for this recipe, because the proportions really depend on the amount of tofu and greens you wish to cook, and your personal spice preferences.
1. Press the tofu
In my efforts to become more fully acquainted with these pasty blocks of jiggling delight, I’ve learned that tofu absorbs marinade more easily if it first has the water squeezed out of it. This is easy to do, but takes some time. Put the tofu on a plate, place another plate on top of the tofu, put weights on top of that plate, and leave it to sit – the longer, the better. I often get impatient, and let it sit for less than an hour, which still tastes fine, but you will get better results if you let it drain for a few hours.
2. While you wait for the tofu to drain, make the marinade.
I like to make this in a tupperware-style container – that way I can shake the mix to make sure that all the pieces are coated. Grate/grind/press/chop the ginger, garlic, pepper, and chillies into the container.
Add the soy or oyster sauce, sesame oil, and vinegar. Normally, I start with a few sloshes of sesame oil and a few sloshes of soy/oyster sauce, and then add enough vinegar so that the mixture will at least partially cover the tofu. A taste test at this point would not be amiss.
3. Dice the tofu
When the tofu has finished draining, discard the juice that it oozed (mmm. how’s that for a descriptor?), and cut the tofu into bite sized pieces.
4. Marinate the tofu
Dump the tofu into the marinade, and give it a good shake to coat all the pieces. The longer you let the tofu marinate, the stronger/better the flavour in the end. An hour would be great. Shake the tofu occasionally to ensure that all the pieces get coated.
5. Get yer greens
While the tofu is marinating, chop your green vegetable.
6. Fry the tofu
Heat a little oil in your frying pan. I would use soybean, canola, or another mild-tasting oil. Don’t use sesame, as it begins to smoke at high heat. Use a slotted spoon or your fingers to take the tofu out of the marinade – don’t discard the marinade! – and dump it into the pan. An important step to ensuring tasty results is to make sure that you brown the tofu on every side (or if you’re impatient, on at least a couple of sides). The goal is the make it crispy.
7. Add greens and stir-fry
Once the tofu is adequately crisped, dump the greens on top of the mixture, and give it a good stir. At this point, add the leftover marinade to the mix. Stir-fry until the greens are crisp-tender.
8. Dive in for a hippy fest of estro-enhanced deliciousness.
9. Ignore your husband’s complaints that you used too much garlic. There is no such thing.
*This is not another estrogen joke.