Monday, April 19, 2010

Tofu Stir-fry

Stir-frying is wonderful this time of year, though it gets better as the local produce starts coming in during May and June. I usually use beef or chicken, but that's a problem when I have vegetarian guests. Usually I leave out the meat, but I feel like I'm wanting for protein (even when I add cashews) and I don't quite get the same chewiness. So this time, I decided to use a very firm tofu.

The tofu I used was one I sampled in a local grocery store and was curry-flavored. I figured this would go well with all of us as we all like curry, but my partner and I aren't overly fond of tofu. In fact, I'd never cooked tofu before.

It was yummy!

Tofu-Vegetable Stirfry
2-3 cups chopped carrots (I like mine on the thick side)
1 head Napa cabbage
1 crown of broccoli
1/4 head of cauliflower
2 small zucchinis
1 lb mushrooms, sliced
1/2 large onion, sliced along the length
15 oz firm, curry-flavored tofu, sliced thinly (not quite julienned), not cubed
1/4 oz curry seeds
1/4 oz coriander seeds
3-4 tablespoons chopped fresh garlic
1/2 inch fresh ginger root, peeled and slivered
1/4 cup stir-fry sauce
1 teaspoon chili oil
1/4 cup of oil

Heat a tablespoon or so of oil in the wok. Stirfry each vegetable over high heat until it is nearly done, starting with the onion, garlic, and ginger, and ending with the napa. (My preferred order is: onion/garlic/ginger, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms, zucchini, napa, and tofu). Add oil as necessary between vegetables. Toast the coriander and cumin in a small skillet over low heat for 20 minutes.

Stir-fry the tofu until nearly done, then add the vegetables back into the pan with the coriander, cumin, stir-fry sauce, and chili oil. Continue cooking until all vegetables are done.

Serve over brown basmati rice.

The stir-fry was delicious! I wanted to make sure I had spiced the vegetables to complement the tofu without making a curry stir-fry. The toasted cumin and coriander seeds were just the ticket.

Tofu is actually pretty easy to work with. I just treated it like I would any other vegetable. I had hoped to be able to brown it a bit, but the tofu was a little too wet or my heat wasn't high enough. Most likely it was a combination of the two.

Just a quick pointer when doing stir-fries: take the time to get everything chopped before you start cooking. You don't want to leave vegetables (or meat) sitting too long in the pan or it doesn't cook evenly. You need to stir frequently, but not necessarily constantly.

By the way, feel free to increase or reduce the vegetables according to taste. I prefer my stir-fries vegetable-heavy, so I used a lot. Not everyone agrees with that philosophy. One of my favorite aspects of stir-fry is that no two are alike; I can create a new one every time by varying my vegetable and protein combinations.

For those of you who aren't familiar with napa; it's a member of the cabbage family like bok choy. However, napa is much more tender, a bit sweeter, and a lot less cabbage-y than bok choy.

I think I've found a way to get us eating more tofu and a bit less meat.

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