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Tofu, Mushroom and Scallion Stirfry

January 19, 2010

Aside from figuring out how to make bread, I’d say that figuring out how to prepare tofu is probably one of the most useful things I’ve learned how to do in a while*.  It’s so easy, and it’s one of my go-to weeknight ingredients because it’s so versatile.  You can make it with just about anything that you would add to a stirfry (which, for me, is equivalent to what’s in the veggie drawer or freezer) and you’ve added flavor, texture, protein, fiber and hardly any calories.  Not too shabby for a weeknight ingredient.

I usually pan fry my tofu with some siracha and soy sauce, but this time I thought I’d take a different route.  I made one block of tofu the usual way and I prepared another block in the oven.  I’d never tried baking tofu before, so why not give it a shot?

The tofu on the left was baked, and the tofu on the right was panfried.

Here’s what I have to say about baked tofu: If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  The baked tofu was hard, rather than crispy; bland, even though I’d brushed it with soy sauce and siracha; and it took about 10 times longer to cook than the panfried tofu.  It was also nearly impossible to cut, since it was so hard on the outside, and I wound up with enormous chunks of baked tofu in the final product instead of perfect bite-sized pieces.  Maybe there are other ways of baking tofu, but for now I’ll stick with what I know best.

Tofu, Mushroom and Scallion Stirfry

Stirfrys progress quickly, so it’s important to have all your ingredients cut up and ready to go in advance.  The total stove-top time on this is less than ten minutes.

2 blocks tofu (almost 2 lbs), prepared however suits your fancy

2 bunches scallions, washed and sliced into inch-long segments

8 oz mushrooms, cleaned and sliced

1 shallot, diced

2 tbsp ginger, minced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 jalapeno pepper, minced

1 teaspoon sesame oil

3 cups cooked rice (I used brown basmati, but just about anything would work.)

Saute the mushrooms and shallots in a pan over high heat with some vegetable oil until softened, about 2 minutes.  Add in the ginger, garlic and pepper and stir until fragrant.  Add in the scallions and tofu and the sesame oil.  Cook until scallions are heated; add in rice. 

*For perfect panfried tofu, I usually just chop it up in whatever form I feel like (for me it’s usually cubes, but sometimes triangles or rectangles) and then spread it out in a single layer over some paper towels to let the water drain out for about 20 minutes.  Then I put it in a hot pan with a little oil on the bottom, let it get crispy on one side, then I flip the tofu over and sprinkle on some soy sauce and siracha. At this point it’s a good idea to let it sit for maybe a minute and then to start stirring it.  The soy sauce makes it brown a lot more quickly.  Interestingly, soy sauce also produces some mad fumes when it’s added to a hot pan, so don’t get too close.  Cook the tofu until it is crispy on the outside and still soft in the middle.  You could also try adding a teaspoon or so of sesame oil to the tofu as it’s cooking, or adding in some other kind of sauce (like teriyaki, which would be interesting)– it’s something you can experiment and play around with.

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