To all veggie lovers, here’s a quick and easy stir-fry with crisp tofu and broccoli tossed in a sweet and savory sauce with garlic, ginger, and sesame seeds.
But wait a minute, did I just say tofu here? Tofu is usually not the most tasty food people are craving for. It’s sure proven to be a good source of protein for vegetarians but many of us actually don’t like it at all. Both its its texture and its neutral taste are quite unusual and not very appealing at first, so more than any other food it’s mandatory to tame it and learn how to cook with it.
I remember the first time I had tofu. I was still very young (I still am, don’t get me wrong – or at least let me pretend I am!) and had intended to spend three weeks of my Summer vacations in a family in United Kingdom to improve my English. The family where I would stay happened to be vegetarian, which was really a big deal for my parents who could barely imagine this possible (it was years before my younger sister turned vegetarian too). Personally, I found it fun to experiment new cooking alternatives, and among others, I remember we prepared some silky tofu with a creamy sauce.
There are different kinds of tofu depending on their texture: soft, firm, extra firm, super firm. There isn’t a lot to distinguish them visually, but the super firm is much spongier and firmer than the others. The one we are using in our recipe today is indeed the super firm tofu. This tofu is very dense with a high protein content. It holds its shape there is less water to cook out, so it is excellent for slicing, cubing, and all kinds of frying: pan-frying, stir-frying, deep-frying.
If you are not familiar with eating tofu, today’s recipe is a perfect introduction to make you love it (yes, not only like it but really love it). Here, the Asian style sauce is the key element of the recipe and gives the tofu plenty of flavors: both sweet and savory with hints of freshly grated ginger to spice up the whole dish. You’ve got just the right amount of everything.
Another trick to get crispy tofu is cooking it in a cast-iron skillet (I absolutely love using a cast-iron, as you can see here, there and also there) and heating it well before you add the tofu. Try not to move the tofu too much, so that you get a nice sear on the bottom, and then flip over to let them get a nice sear on all the sides. Once you’re done with the tofu, simply transfer it to another dish and stir-fry the broccoli florets in the skillet. They will still be lightly crispy, while being nicely coated with the sauce too.
If you’re not a huge fan of broccoli, you can use other vegetables instead, such as carrots (peeled and julienne-cut), green beans, or you can also imagine asparagus, snow peas or small baby bok choy, which is a type of Chinese cabbage. I served the stir-fry tofu and broccoli with cooked white rice to make it wholesome and nourishing, and added some additional sauce over the dish. Note that it could also work with brown rice or even with noodles. I didn’t know it would be really possible one day for me, but I am completely in love with this Asian tofu stir-fry and I can’t wait to make it again!
- 1½ cup uncooked rice
- 14 oz (400g) super firm tofu
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets
- 6 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon natural peanut butter
- 1 tsp freshly grated ginger
- 1 tbsp agave or maple syrup*
- 2 tsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp sesame oil
- 2 cloves garlic, grated
- 1 tsp hot chinese sauce
- ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
- Black pepper
- Green onions, sliced
- Sesame seeds
- Cook the rice according to the package instructions.
- For the sauce: mix all the ingredients until smooth.
- For the tofu: set tofu on top of plate and pat-dry with paper towel. Place a cast iron pan or something else that is heavy on top and let sit for 30 minutes.
- Cut tofu into bite-sized pieces. Place in a bowl with the sauce, and toss to coat. Let sit for 30 minutes.
- Heat olive oil in a medium cast iron pan over medium-high heat. Once really hot, add tofu with half of the sauce (trying to keep the other half of the sauce for later). Once nicely seared on the bottom, flip over. Continue to cook until seared on the other side. Remove the tofu from the pan, and keep warm.
- Return the pan to the heat and add broccoli florets with the remaining sauce. Cover and cook for about 4-5 minutes or until crisp-tender.
- Arrange the broccoli and tofu over the cooked rice, and cover with more sauce.
- Sprinkle with green onions and sesame.