Meatless Monday: Crispy Tofu with Spring Vegetables

We're not big meat eaters at Chez Gourmess. Don't get me wrong, a great burger or a juicy steak is a wonderful treat -- but those delights aren't on our weekly menu. But what is? Tofu, at least once a week. And not just for Meatless Monday, although that's a pretty good excuse to make the recipe below, tonight.

If you haven't tried tofu yet, what are you waiting for? When seared in a bit of sesame oil, the combo of crispy outside and creamy inside is to die for. Just add the veggies in your crisper and some simple Asian seasonings -- you can't really go wrong. (Tofu is pretty hard to screw up.) 

Note: I like to buy my tofu extra firm and the whole block -- not cubed, so I can slice it to my preference/recipe. Another trick is to drain/press it before use to prevent soggy tofu, which nobody likes. To do this, place the tofu on paper towels and top with a layer of more towels. Press down gently to remove water, then replace paper towels. Place a plate or small cutting board weighted down with a can of soup (or whatever you have) on the top layer of new towels, and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Then, toss the towels and use the tofu.

Ready to give it a try? Here's an easy and tasty recipe:

Crispy Tofu with Spring Vegetables
1 14 oz. package extra firm tofu
1 cup carrots
1 cup snow peas
1 bunch asparagus
1 TBS vegetable oil
2 TBS dark sesame oil
1 TBS minced ginger
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1 TBS dark soy sauce
1 TBS light soy sauce
1 TBS rice vinegar
2-3 tsp brown sugar
Red pepper flakes
2 TBS sesame seeds 

Minimal MESS/ingredients/clean-up: Category 2

To Do:
  • Drain/press the tofu (see above).
  • While  the tofu drains, chop the carrots (I used baby carrots) into bite-sized pieces, halve the snow peas, and trim the bottom end of the asparagus, then chop into 1 inch pieces.

  • Cut the drained tofu into 1/2 inch thick slices, then cut those slices into 3-inch x 1.5-inch inch pieces.
  • Heat the vegetable oil and 1 TBS of the sesame oil in a large rounded skillet or wok until hot.
  • Carefully add the tofu pieces and cook about 8 minutes, or until golden brown on all sides, gently shaking the pan once or twice. 
  • Remove the tofu from the pan and drain on paper towels.
  • Add the garlic, ginger, carrots and asparagus to the pan and cook over medium heat, until tender, but still crisp. Add the snow peas and lower heat to medium-low.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the remaining 1 TBS of sesame oil, the soy sauces, rice vinegar, brown sugar, a couple pinches of red pepper flakes, and 1 tsp of sesame seeds until combined, then pour over the veggies.
  • Stir together, then return the tofu to the pan and cook 2-3 minutes more, until heated through.
  • Sprinkle with the remaining sesame seeds and serve with brown rice and extra soy sauce on the side.