Tag Archives: dry fried tofu

Horseradish Dry-Fried Tofu, Brown Rice with Wilted Greens, Quick Pickled Vegetables, and Roasted Tomatoes (Bento Box)

26 Mar

I’ve been reading a lot of Haruki Murakami, lately.  I love world he creates – simultaneously realistic and fantastical.  Reading one of his books is like living inside of an uncomfortably vivid dream.  One of the things I have enjoyed greatly over the course of all of his works that I’ve read has been the attention paid to food.  So often in literature, authors neglect to portray their characters eating, which strikes me as absurdly unrealistic.  As an author, Murakami casually captures the idea that food nourishes and sustains, sometimes through an important, monumental meal, and sometimes just as something to eat, quickly made and quickly forgotten.

As his novels take place in Japan, I thought I would take a bit of inspiration out of his works and make a bento box inspired dinner.  I have been researching bento boxes for awhile now, and finally pulled the trigger on buying one thanks to this meal, which consists of a variety of small Asian-inspired dishes.  Bento boxes generally contain three parts carbohydrate (such as rice, pasta, or barley), two parts fruit and vegetables, and one part protein (such as meat, fish, or tofu).  Bento boxes are particularly good for portion control, because if you follow the formula of 3-2-1, each milliliter of space, packed tightly, yields one calorie (for example, a 500 milliliter container is 500 calories).

This dish is made up of some brown rice tossed with wilted greens, pickled vegetables, roasted plum tomatoes, and horseradish dry-fried tofu.  I stuck to the 3-2-1 serving suggestion and was super happy with it.  I tried to choose components that balanced out texture (meaty tofu, crispy pickles, soft tomatoes, toothsome brown rice) and flavor (tangy tofu, slightly sweet and slightly vinegar-y vegetables, sweet roasted tomatoes, and savory brown rice), as well as employed a variety of cooking techniques (sautéed tofu, pickled vegetables, roasted tomatoes, simmer riced).  The flavors were simple but fresh, and we both really enjoyed this healthy, delicious dish.  For dinner, I served these separated on a large plate, with everything except the pickles warm.  For lunch, I ate this room temperature (pictured).  Both were equally yummy.

Horseradish Dry-Fried Tofu, Brown Rice with Wilted Greens, Quick Pickled Vegetables, and Roasted Tomatoes

(Bento Box)

Horseradish and Black Pepper Dry Fried Tofu:

1 14 oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained

1 tbs. freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbs. rice wine vinegar

1 tbs. canola oil

1 tbs. honey

1 tbs. horseradish mustard

Cut tofu block into slices 1/2″ thick.  Place a few paper towels or a clean kitchen towel on a cutting board.  Lay tofu on top on a single layer.  Top with a few more paper towels or another clean kitchen top on top.  Top with another cutting board and weigh down with a heavy cast iron skillet or canned goods.  Press until as much moister as possible is drained, at least an hour.

Meanwhile, whisk together all remaining ingredients.  Set aside.

Heat a cast iron pan, stainless steel pan, or other pan NOT coated with non-stick surface.  Heat over medium heat.  Add tofu, working in batches if necessary so the pieces are not overcrowded, and cook about 4-6 minutes per side until golden brown and leeched of moisture.

Transfer tofu and marinade into a zip lock bag or other marinating vessel.  Place in refrigerator and marinate at least 3-4 hours but preferably over night, turning as necessary.

Heat a pan over medium heat.  Add tofu and marinade and cook until tofu is heated through and marinade is reduced, about 4-6 minutes per side.  Serve immediately.

Quick Pickled Parsnips, Zucchini, and Carrots:

1 parsnip, peeled and cut into 1/8″ rounds

1 zucchini, cut into 1/8″ rounds

1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/8″ rounds

1 large pinch Korean dried chile flakes (or to taste)

1 cup rice wine vinegar

1 cup cold water

1/2 cup white sugar

2 tbs. soy sauce

Whisk together chile flakes, rice wine vinegar, water, sugar, and soy sauce.  Add vegetables and place in a sealed container.  Refrigerate at least one hour but up to overnight, depending on desired strength of pickle.  Serve chilled.

Brown Rice with Wilted Greens:

1 cup brown rice, cooked according to package instructions

1 tbs. olive oil

2-3 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups mixed greens (such as spinach, arugula, frisee, red lettuce, etc.)

1 tbs. soy sauce

1/2 lemon, juiced

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large sauté pan.  Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.  Add greens and soy sauce, tossing frequently.  Cook about 1 minute until wilted.

Add rice and toss to combine.  Add lemon juice and toss to combine.  Taste for seasonings and adjust as necessary.

Roasted Plum Tomatoes:

1 cup plum tomatoes

2 tbs. olive oil

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Preheat oven to 350º.

Cover a baking sheet with tinfoil.  Toss tomatoes with olive oil and season liberally with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper.

Place in oven.  Roast about 25 minutes until wrinkled and dark brown in places, shaking 3-4 times during the roasting process.

Serve warm.

Chipotle-Honey Glazed Tofu

4 Feb

Ever since discovering the method of dry frying tofu, I’ve been itching to try it out in a few different formats.  I was craving something spicy and sweet, so I quickly threw together a chiptotle-honey marinade while dry frying the tofu.  It imparts a really nice flavor to the tofu, with the perfect balance of sweetness, tanginess, smokiness, and spice.  The great thing about this dish is that since you are dry frying the tofu ahead of time, all you have to do is throw the tofu and marinade together into a pan and let the marinade reduce to a glaze while the tofu heats up.

Seriously, this dish could not be any easier, which is something I much appreciate due to my hectic schedule and frequent late nights at school and oral argument practice downtown.  One of the most frustrating aspects of being mega-busy the way I currently am is not having time to unwind and try new things in the kitchen.  Or be in the kitchen at all, really.  Plus, it means having to buy lunch, since I haven’t been able to plan for leftovers.  At least it’s Febru-any at Subway, I guess.  As much as I am enjoying moot court, I cannot wait until the end of this month when competition is over and I can start working my way through my ever-growing list of “must try” recipes.  I miss being able to spend hours in the kitchen, looking at food websites, writing and re-writing grocery lists, and digging into the first bite of something really damn good that took a fair bit of work to prepare.  To me, it’s one of the most rewarding feelings out there.  So, all, please bear with me the next few weeks while the recipes stay a little scattered (or at times non-existent) and I’ll be back to near-daily posting in no time!

Chipotle-Honey Glazed Tofu

1 14 oz. package extra firm tofu

3 tbs. honey

1/4 cup canola oil

1/3 cup apple cider vinegar

1 chipotle in adobo, minced

1 tbs. adobo sauce

Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Cut tofu into 1/4″ slices.  Cover a kitchen towel with a paper towel and place tofu on the towel.  Add another paper towel and kitchen towel and place a heavy, flat object on top of the tofu.  I prefer to use a cast iron pan, but a pan or baking sheet weighed down with canned goods is another good option.

Meanwhile, whisk together remaining ingredients.

Heat a dry cast iron pan over medium heat.  Add tofu, working in batches if necessary.  Cook about 5-6 minutes per side until golden-brown and no longer moist.

Transfer dry-fried tofu and marinade into a ziplock bag.  Marinate at least 3-4 hours or up to overnight, shifting bag as necessary to ensure even marinating.

Heat a 10″ cast iron pan over medium-high heat.  Add marinade and tofu.  Cook over medium heat 10 minutes until tofu is heated through and marinade is reduced to a glaze, flipping tofu over halfway through cooking.

Serve with rice, added to a stir fry, in a sandwich, or as desired.

Dry Fried Spicy Tofu Stir Fry

14 Jan

The real gem of this dish is the tofu.  I recently discovered the method of dry frying tofu, which is illustrated below.  By pressing the tofu under something heavy, you draw out all of the moisture.  A quick fry until golden brown in a dry, hot pan crisps up the tofu without the need for oil or breading.  A nice long soak in some marinade allows the tofu to suck up all of the flavors of the marinade while maintaining a delicious, meaty texture.  Then, simply add to a stir fry as usual.

The spicy flavors of the marinade below marry well with the tofu and are sopped up by the pho noodles to create a delicious, mouth-tingling sauce.  The ginger is very pronounced without being overwhelming.  If you are looking for a healthy, filling, flavorful and fast dinner, I highly suggest you give this a try.

Dry Fried Spicy Tofu Stir Fry

Dry Fried Spicy Tofu:

1 14 oz. block firm or extra firm tofu

1/4 cup fish sauce

1/4 cup rice wine vinegar

2 tbs. clam juice

1 heaping tbs. sriracha

1 tbs. soy sauce

1 tbs. thinly sliced lemongrass

1 tsp. sesame oil

1 jalapeño, thinly sliced

1/2 small onion, thinly sliced

1″ piece of ginger, peeled and grated

1 lemon, juiced

Cut tofu in 1/2″ slices and then cut diagonally to form triangles.

Place a clean kitchen towel on the counter.  Lay a paper towel or two on top of it.  Place the tofu in a single layer on the paper towel.  Top with another paper towel and another kitchen towel.  Place cast iron pan, heavy cutting board, or something flat weighed down with canned goods or bricks.  Let sit for about an hour until very dry.

Heat a dry, well-seasoned cast iron pan over medium-high heat.  If you don’t have cast iron, use a wok, if possible.  Don’t use any oil in the pan – the point of this step is to allow all of the moisture in the tofu to evaporate so it can sop up all of the delicious flavors of the marinade later.

Add tofu to the hot pan and cook 4-6 minutes per side until golden brown, working in batches if necessary.

Meanwhile, whisk together marinade ingredients.

Add tofu to marinade.  Marinate at least half an hour – the longer the better, up to overnight.

Add to stir fry (see below).

Stir Fry:

Tofu, with marinade (see above)

1 package bahn pho noodles, cooked according to package instructions and drained

1 tbs. canola oil

1/2 cup cremini mushrooms, thickly sliced

1/2 cup frozen corn kernels

1 cup frozen peas

1 jalapeño, very thinly sliced

1/2 onion, very thinly sliced

2-3 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tsp. cornstarch

1 scallion/green onion, green parts only

Heat olive oil in a large wok over medium-high heat.  Add mushrooms and cook until tender, about 6-8 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add corn and peas and cook until defrosted and any water that leaches out is evaporated, another 4-6 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add jalapeño and onion and cook until the jalapeño is tender, about 2-3 minutes, tossing frequently.  Add tofu with marinade, noodles, and garlic.  Sprinkle corn starch over the wok.  Toss.  Cook until tofu and noodles are heated through and ingredients are well combined, about 3-4 minutes.

Serve immediately topped with scallion greens.

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