Although I’m not a vegetarian myself, I discovered how to cook tofu about 4 years ago and now it’s my go-to whenever I’m feeling lazy and don’t want to cook! This recipe is my staple dinner and I make it about once a week, with different flavor variations and vegetable combinations.
Ok, to all my meat-eaters out there, the mere mention of tofu may make you feel like this:
Well, old guy above, this recipe is full of flavor and, hopefully, will make you think differently about tofu. The best thing about it is that you can spice it anyway you want, which makes it incredibly versatile and a great way to add protein to anything you are making.
Cook and Prep Time: 15-20 minutes
What you’ll need:
FOR THE STIR-FRY
1 package medium firm to firm tofu
1 bunch asparagus
1 green bell pepper
1 tbsp chili powder
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground ginger
Noodles or rice
FOR THE SAUCE
1/4 cup orange juice
1/4 soy sauce
4 cloves garlic
The trick to cooking tofu is to make it first! You have to give it a chance to brown and crisp up on its own before you add all the other stir-fry elements in. So, grab your knife and cube the tofu up into rectangular pieces.
If you are like me, I didn’t grow up eating tofu or watching my mom cook it. So, it may feel like you are in uncharted waters when you first try this out. The best way to think about cooking tofu is to remember that you are essentially trying to make it brown, less soft, and a little crispy.
Heat a tablespoon of oil in a saucepan and throw the tofu into the pan on medium to high heat. Stir occasionally, for about 5 minutes. You should notice that the tofu pieces are getting firm and are getting a golden brown color on them.
As they are browning, add the spices to the tofu and mix until the tofu is coated in spice. I like to taste a piece at this point to see if there’s enough spice and if the tofu is cooked the way I like it. Depending on your preferences, you can add more spice or cook the tofu a little bit longer.
Cut the asparagus into small pieces. If you’ve never cut up asparagus before, don’t worry! You want to cut off the end piece and throw it out. Then, cut the asparagus stalk into small bite size pieces.
You also want to cut the bell pepper. Again, no judgments will be passed on those who have never cut up a bell pepper! Slice off the top of the bell pepper, where the stem is. You should be able to see that there are seeds inside the bell pepper. Go ahead and scoop those out and give it a rinse. Then, cut the bell pepper in half. Lay one half flat on the cutting board and slice it length wise into strips. You can halve these strips if you want, or you can leave them (depending on your level of ambition at this point!)
Now, throw the asparagus and the bell pepper into the pan with the tofu and stir around on medium heat. You are basically watching to see the vegetables turn a darker green. This should take about 10 minutes. Of course, you can always pop a piece of asparagus in your mouth and see if its soft and cooked.
While the veggies are cooking, whip up an easy stir-fry sauce. In a bowl, put in the orange juice, chopped garlic, and soy sauce and stir. Voila! If you want more of any ingredient, just add a pinch and keep tasting until you get the taste you are looking for.
Pour the sauce over the vegetables and tofu. Turn the stove to medium heat and cover. And now, sit back and let the magic happen! Check on the stir-fry and occasionally stir so that the tofu doesn’t stick to the bottom.
After about 5 minutes, the sauce should be simmering. You can take a piece of tofu out and try it to see if you like the flavor, or if you want to add anything more to it.
If not, you are done! If you like, you can make noodles or rice to go with the stir-fry or, if you are like me, you can eat it as is. I hope this recipe solves your after-work dinner dilemma and changes your mind about cooking tofu!