If you are new to a vegetarian diet there will come a day when you will want to try tofu.
Don’t make that face.
I realize that most everyone has had a bad experience with tofu – soggy, spongy texture that is less than appetizing. But I challenge you to try cooking it yourself because it really does matter how its cooked.
First of all, a little background. Tofu is a relatively simple ingredient that is packed with protein and calcium. It is made from soybeans, water and a curdling agent and pressed into blocks. There are different types of tofu including silken, soft and firm, which I will be using in various recipes I will share on this blog.
Tofu is very versatile, mainly because of its ability to take on whatever flavor combinations you put with it. On its own, it has a slightly nutty flavor, but really doesn’t taste like much of anything. Most people who are turned off by tofu complain of its texture. I was one of those, but I have been converted.
I hope to convert you too!
The first thing you need to buy, as a beginner, is an extra firm block of organic tofu. Once taken out of the package and drained of the water it is stored in, place it between two clean kitchen towels and put something heavy like a saucepan or heavy skillet for about 20 minutes. This will press the excess liquid out of the tofu. Slice it into smaller squares while you are preheating a skillet on high heat. Lay the pieces flat and season with salt and pepper on one side.
At this point I usually spray the skillet with an oil spray and making sure the skillet is super hot, I place the tofu slices seasoned side down on the hot skillet. Fry until crisp and dark brown – about 5 minutes per side. Before flipping be sure to season the top side as well! Try experimenting with different seasonings as well – chili powder, cayenne pepper, really the sky’s the limit with what you can add to tofu!
The finished product will look like this!
Tasting it by itself this way will give you an idea of the direction you can go with tofu. Honestly, I have eaten it just like this dipped in ketchup – a great healthy snack! Sometimes if I do that, I will cut it into much smaller bite-sized pieces for dipping or adding to the end of stir fry’s. The idea is having it done with the seasoning and the crispness that really will make the dish you are making.
Recently, I created this delicious rice pilaf and had the tofu alongside. The tastes are absolutely delicious and I used fresh green beans and a bunch of collards from my garden. This dish is packed with healthy ingredients and very comforting.
And with this little gem of an ingredient…
It really makes the dish! You can find this almost anywhere with the other Thai food ingredients. It has become one of my favorite additions to my pantry because it adds a unique flavor to so many sauces.
This paired with coconut milk makes a wonderful creamy rice dish that your kids are sure to love as well!
This dish is also a quick meal if you have already prepared rice on hand. The entire thing definitely comes together in about 20 minutes.
Perfect for a busy weeknight meal!
Recipe ~ Red Curry Rice Pilaf with Crispy Pan Fried Tofu
1 Small Onion, diced
1 Tablespoon EVOO
2 Cloves Garlic, minced
2 Tablespoons Red Curry Paste
1 Cup Coconut Milk
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1/4 Teaspoon Freshly Ground Black Pepper
3 Cups Prepared Rice
2 Cups Fresh Green Beans
1 Bunch Collard Greens
Saute the onion in a tablespoon of EVOO until soft and translucent, about 3-4 minutes. Add your collard greens and saute for another minute or two. Add the garlic and saute for another 30 seconds. Add the curry paste and toast for 30 seconds before adding the water. Whisk everything together, and then add the coconut milk, salt and pepper. Add your green beans and simmer until tender crisp. Add your cooked rice and stir everything together and saute until just heated through. Serve with crispy pan fried tofu on the side!