Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Tofu...Who Knew?

I'm the first person to admit having a fear, and perhaps even a suspicion, about tofu. In defense of tofu, it is a low cost, low fat and high protein staple. In the interest of culinary research, I bought a 16 0z. package from Claudia's Natural Food Market (3344 Secor Road - Toledo, OH).

After spending a few minutes in the parking lot googling "tofu" I found a seemingly innocuous recipe:

Tofu Stir Fry with Broccoli and Carrots
1 tsp. toasted sesame seeds
1/2 c. water
1/4 c. dry sherry
2 Tbs soy sauce
1 Tbs cornstarch
1 tsp chicken seasoning
3/4 tsp ground ginger
1 cup sliced carrots
1 clove garlic
3 cups broccoli florets
6 oz. tofu (cubed, MoriNu Lite)

Stir fry carrots and garlic in a small amount of cooking oil for 2 minutes. Add broccoli and continue to stir fry for 3-4 minutes or until the broccoli starts to soften a little. Push the veggies to the side to create a well in the middle of your wok. Add the sauce and stir until the sauce becomes thick and bubbly. Add the tofu and toss all ingredients for an additional minute (to heat the tofu and season the vegetable mix). Sprinkle with toasted sesame seeds and serve with a side of cooked rice.

I have absolutely no idea what "chicken seasoning" is. Sounds to me like something that people buy to season the flour before whipping up some fried chicken. Or maybe its something you can sprinkle on a breast before grilling? Regardless, I substituted "Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute". This is always flavorful and does not contain salt. I also prefer to use Lite soy sauce to save a few grams of salt. I drained the tofu of water and cut up the pieces into 1/4 inch thick rectangles. I suppose 1/2 inch cubes would have been good looking, too.

The recipe tastes a little bit too much like the sherry. I think next time I'll cut it back a bit. Otherwise, its a great recipe. Easy to whip up with minimal ingredients and a pleasant flavor.

Glass City Gourmet” is a chronicle of one woman's attempt to cook, eat, diet and entertain with both flair and whimsy while based in Toledo, Ohio. I encourage you to read on as the "Glass City Gourmet" attempts grand recipes, samples locally owned restaurants, visits indigenous markets and humbly pursues her quest to be formally recognized as the official "Glass City Gourmet".


  1. Tofu is a chef's blank canvas. Most people don't realize that it can be great if you know what to do with it. It can also reinforce all of the worst stereotypes about it if not made well, or if the wrong kind is used. One misconception is that it's just an icky meat substitute for vegetarians. That's not how it was originally conceived, though. For example, Ma Po Tofu is a classic Szechuan dish with tofu and pork.
    Note that silken tofu - the kind that generally comes in those stay fresh packs that can be stored at room temperature, is not so good for stir frying - it's much better blended into sauces (try blending it with pesto for a great creamy pasta sauce, or in a soup). Regular extra firm tofu (in the refrigerated section of the store) is better for frying. And if you freeze regular tofu and then thaw and drain it, it takes on a very crumbly texture that's great in some dishes (I use it this way for taco filling).

  2. I suppose tofu can be very interesting if you are a vegetarian.
    I lived a life style for a few years that gave me very little time to cook and I had a few szechuan carry outs in NYC that kept me well fed and happy for very little money. I adored fried tofu in hot szechuan sauce! I realize that the deep frying obliterated what ever health benefits that tofu had to offer me, but well, I liked it! The crispy golden texture on the outside was so satisfyiong. It was also great in oyster sauce with broccoli.
    My nephew lives in Thailand and recently sent me a package of the fermented soy paste called miso in Japan. In the early 70's I ran a vegetarian restaurant on Delaware and Collingwood called The Wizard and I always had as a staple, Miso soup. I realized how much I missed the earthy rich smell and flavor of Miso.
    One soy product to avoid is the textured and flavored soy meat substitutes...I never tasted one that was any good. They all tasted artificial and weird, like the flavoring of junk foods....