I haven't used it much ... just twice, both times in this recipe. But I've seen an awful lot in our cafeteria, and yes, I heartily mean awful. The main problem with tofu, I think, is the idea that it can be used in place of meat. I've seen great slabs of it slathered with barbecue sauce and served as a steak replacement. Blecchh. No thank you.
But that's the thing about tofu ... it's not meat. It's its own special thing. I'm currently acting in a collection of one-act plays, and the one right after mine is about conventional ideas of beauty and how we shouldn't let other people define us. You know the stories: "The Ugly Duckling," "The Marriage of Sir Gawain," "The Ordinary Princess," and so many others where the inner beauty eventually shines through.
Tofu is the same way. It's beautiful, in its own special way. You can't treat it like any other protein. You need to send it flowers once in a while, and tell it it's gorgeous, and open the car door for it, and it will be good to you in return. Observe:
This is tofu after being diced, pressed, marinated in soy sauce and garlic powder with a dash of allspice, and fried. Seriously, I had the bowl of tofu sitting right there while the veggies were cooking, and I kept snacking on it. Have I really become the person whose guilty pleasure is tofu? Apparently so.
This stir-fry is the perfect thing if you're craving lots of veggies and some quick, simple, flavorful goodness. It can be easily adapted to use whatever vegetables you have lying around in your crisper. You can leave out the coconut milk if you want to, or the peanut butter, or the cilantro. It's infinitely forgivable.
Coconut milk stir-fry
(adapted from my friend Amy's recipe)
- 1 block firm tofu
- ¼ c. soy sauce
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- dash of allspice
- 4 T. olive oil, divided
- ½ onion, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 2 carrots, sliced on the bias
- 1 head broccoli, cut into small florets
- 1 c. coconut milk
- 5 T. peanut butter
- ¼ tsp. red pepper
- ½ c. cilantro, chopped
- Drain tofu and cut into 1" slabs. Place slabs between tea towels and place heavy object on top. (I used a skillet, set on top of a baking pan to distribute the weight evenly.) Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Combine soy sauce, garlic powder, and allspice in large baking pan. Add tofu and marinate for 15 minutes, turning occasionally.
- Fry tofu in 2 T. olive oil until brown. Remove from pan.
- In 2 T. olive oil over medium heat, cook onion until translucent. Add garlic and other vegetables and cook under crisp-tender.
- Add coconut milk and peanut butter, and reduce heat. Stir until combined.
- Serve over jasmine rice with cilantro.