Friday, March 26, 2010

Oishii! Sesame Tofu Stir-fry

PapaD and I are not vegetarians, but we often like to cook vegetarian (or rather, experiment with vegetarian). To be honest, I'm a meat-loving girl, but in moderation. It's nice to take a break from meat every once in a while and it also tends to be nicer on my wallet as meat can be so expensive these days (especially when we try to buy local, organic, humanely raised meats and poultry). However, as much as my husband tries to encourage my efforts, it can be hard to find satisfying meals that are meatless and delicious. He's made a request that I use more tofu so that he can get enough protein, so here is one of my efforts that I thought turned out pretty good. This recipe was adapted from The New Stir-Fry Cookbook by Bay Books.
Sesame Tofu Stir Fry

Preparation Time:
20 minutes + 30 minutes marinating
Total Cooking Time:
10 minutes
Serves 4

10 oz firm tofu
2 teaspoons sesame oil
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
2 tablespoons oil
3 zucchini, sliced (I only used 2 'cause that's all I had)
5 oz button mushrooms, halved or quartered (I omitted 'cause my husband hates button mushrooms and substituted a carrot instead, cut into matchsticks)
1 large red pepper, cut into squares
2 cloves garlic, crushed
3 cups of cold, cooked brown rice (All I had was white)
1-2 tablespoons soy sauce, extra

Here is my prep work:
MamaM and I have the same rice cooker and I don't know what I would do without it (even though I don't know what all those buttons mean - I just push them until it turns red). We eat rice with our meals at least once a week. For this particular recipe, I made the rice in the morning and put it in the fridge to cool off but I wish I had made the rice several days in advance so it could dry out - I think that my stir-fry was too mushy because the rice was too moist. So if you are planning on trying this dish, make your rice ahead of time if you can.

Prep work is what takes the longest time for me. But I'm pretty meticulous in my chopping, slicing, and cutting because a good stir-fry needs the vegetables (and meat if using) to be a uniform size so that they can cook evenly. In this case, because the carrots take the longest to cook, I made them matchstick size (with this cool little slicer thing my mom brought me from Japan) so they would cook as fast as the peppers and zucchini. I hadn't even originally planned to use carrots but because I omitted the mushrooms, I felt like I needed something else and carrots add some nice sweetness to the dish. A good knife makes prep work easier; I use Wusthof Classic knives.

1. Drain the tofu and pat dry with paper towels. Cut into cubes, place in a glass or ceramic bowl and add the sesame oil and soy sauce. Stir to combine and thoroughly coat the tofu. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

2. Heat the wok until very hot, add the sesame seeds and dry-fry until lightly golden brown. Transfer to a plate to cool.
This is my very well used wok. It is a really cheap one (Joyce Chen, I think) that we got at Bed, Bath and Beyond for about $15. I hated it at first and was about to throw it away so I could buy a really expensive stainless steel wok (this one is carbon steel) but then it started to season really well and didn't smoke as much (it used to smoke like crazy). I have heard that the cheaper the wok, the better it is. We do a lot of stir-fry so I am really glad that we have it.

My wok was extremely hot and I think that I browned my sesame seeds a little too much (some may have even been on the verge of burning). So next time, I would add them as I am heating the wok.

3. Reheat the wok, add the oil (I use Canola because it is good for high heat and doesn't have much of a taste) and swirl it around to coat the side. Remove the tofu from the dish with a slotted spoon and reserve the marinade. Stir-fry the tofu over high heat, turning occasionally, for about 3 minutes, or until browned. Remove from the wok and set aside.
Although I really like silken tofu because it has such a nice texture and consistency, I think that I might try an extra firm tofu for stir-fry next time because mine was falling apart just a little...

4. Add the vegetables and garlic, and cook, stirring often, until they are just tender. Add the rice and tofu and stir-fry until heated through.

5. Add the toasted sesame seeds, the reserved marinade and the extra soy sauce, to taste. Toss thoroughly until the tofu and vegetables are well coated, then serve immediately.

So this is how mine turned out...

...compared to the picture in the recipe book.
PapaD gives it a thumbs up...
..and eats heartily.


MamaQ said...

oishii so! i want to try making that. i think i'd enjoy it as much as papaD. nice work!

Kendra said...

Looks delish and I love the photos to accompany the recipe!

Kumi said...

It looks so pretty in eyes also.
By the way, your rice cooker setting should be all the way left, 白米. Your setting is 無洗米 (rice doesn't need to be wahed).