Red Cooked Tofu

You can’t be a vegetarian for long without eating tofu, especially if you are trying to get lots of protein for training.  And while I’m not a total vegetarian because I still eat fish, I’d like to make true vegetarian meals often so that you non-fish eaters out there will get something out of this blog.  So with that, I give you red cooked tofu from Fine Cooking.  You’ve probably noticed that I do a lot of Fine Cooking recipes.  One reason is that most of them are online, so I can link to them instead of typing the whole recipe.  But more importantly, they are always really good.  Without exaggeration, I think our success rate with them might be 100 percent.  Some of them are complicated, but they have a new section called “Make it Tonight” with meals that generally take less than half an hour to make.

I have never really liked tofu, probably because of the spongy texture and lack of flavor.  But with this recipe, the tofu really takes on the flavor of the Chinese sauce.  So at least the little sponges taste like something.  And I like extra-firm tofu because it’s not so spongy and doesn’t break up when you cook it.

A lot of times when I try to get my asian on, I’m disappointed because the result tastes like bland vegetables with soy sauce on them.  But this meal is different; the soy sauce really gets integrated into the stew and it combines with the fresh ginger, rice vinegar, sugar, and some vegetables to make a really nice sauce.

I used homemade organic vegetable broth that my sister made and froze for me, but if you don’t have such a sister, just get it premade from the store. But make sure it doesn’t have a lot of unnatural ingredients and sodium.  Also we used brown rice and you should too.  It is to white rice what whole-wheat bread is to white bread.  Another thing to note is that the recipe calls for fresh ginger.  Do not substitute ground; it’s really considered a different cooking spice and has different uses than fresh.  Another ginger tip:  Most of the flavor of fresh ginger resides near the skin, so be careful to remove only a thin layer when you peel it.  Using a spoon to peel it ensures that you won’t take off more than necessary.  Finally, if you buy more than you need for this one meal, store the rest in the freezer.

Here’s how it looks when you’re done:

meals 004 300x225

This meal is pretty good; in fact this is the second time I’ve made it.  And it’s really easy to make.  But the fact remains:  no matter how much you polish a turd, it’s still a turd.  And that turd, in this case, is tofu.  So if you like tofu, then definitely make this meal; it’s by far the best way I’ve ever made it.  If you’ve never had tofu or haven’t had it in a while, this is a pretty good way of trying it.  And I will say that tofu is growing on me and I’m willing to continue to experiment with other ways of preparing it since it’s such a good protein source.  Overall, Erin and I give this meal 3 small cows out of 5.

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Comments

  1. margaret says:

    Looks great to me but you know I’m a big tofu fan. Having said that, I agree it’s hard to find tasty (and relatively easy) tofu dishes to make at home. I’m glad to see one here!

  2. Christine says:

    I also heart tofu, but my first times cooking it at home were disasters. Finally I learned that to get nice crispy tofu, try slicing it up and drying it out on paper towels, changing them when soaked through until the towels don’t get damp anymore. Then drizzle with oil and soy sauce and pop in the oven at 350 degrees for about 30 mins, flipping once. Then I use this baked tofu in the stir fry or whichever way it’s being prepared. The paper towels and then dry heat make the tofu lose it’s spongy-ness.

    Also, you gotta give tempeh a try. It’s like tofu, but includes some grains like barley. It has a nutty taste and is not squishy. It works really well in stir-frys, with a lot less preparation.

  3. Christine says:

    Oops meant to ask before-

    did you actually have Shaoxing on hand or did you use something else? I keep a bottle of marsala around but I’ve never heard of Chinese cooking sherry.

  4. This recipe looks really good! I wanted to see some tofu recipes. I started eating it- but only in my Chinese carry-out meals. So far, it’s the only thing I can find that seems to be filling. I can’t get over the sense of not feeling full enough without adding the meat. (That’s a lot of negatives… in other words, I think it was the meat that gave me the full feeling). And the tofu works.

  5. Speaking of eggs, do you (or does anyone) know of a good egg substitute for binding things like bean burgers together?

  6. A (vegan) former roommate of mine taught me a great trick for tofu — freeze it first. Freezing makes the water turn to ice on the outside of the tofu, and easy to “remove” instead of having to squeeze, dry, pat, etc, and it really helps the texture and ability to stay solid when cooking. Not sure how it works with the water-filled diet, but I don’t make it any other way anymore.

  7. Thanks Norma, this seems like a really good trick! As for the water-rich diet, somehow I don’t think tofu is considered water-rich anyway. I think the water is added to make tofu from soybeans, so it’s not the natural, ‘live’ water that you get in plants and fruits. Just a guess.

  8. How does the tofu work in your 10-Day Challenge? Is it considered a protein in which case should you only eat it without carbs?

  9. Dayton Fan says:

    Just found your blog and am intrigued! Did the veg thing years ago and am slowly making my way back to the fold, but I have a spouse who is a dedicated carnivore. It can be challenging! I have been pressing tofu to remove the water & firm it up for a while now, but the idea of freezing it is very interesting. I usually wrap firm tofu in a clean dish towel and put the whole thing in the fridge weighted down by a gallon of milk. Doesn’t take long & works great. However, I will give freezing it a try! Hey, one thought as I read this. If you finely grate fresh ginger, there is no need to peel it. However, if you do peel it, save and dry the shreds and add it to tea. Yum!

  10. I actually recently went to an Asian market in Catonsville and picked up some Asian rice wine for Dad, for cooking of course. So I used his. I don’t think it was called Shaoxing but it kind of smelled like Sherry to me so I used it.

  11. Read Christine’s post about how to dry the tofu so that you can get it crispier. I think I would like it this way much better. I dry mine with paper towels for a few minutes but it sounds like she does much more.

  12. Christine says:

    Part of that not-full feeling may be from getting used to seeing the side dish as the entree. Like you’re staring on the plate where the meat used to be. Maybe try making some pattie-style foods like black bean burgers or zucchini patties or chickpea falafel. I think a couple of those over some brown rice or in a pita will mentally feel more like a meal.

    Also, making your own veggie burgers is a nice way to use up leftover soup. Just drain it and puree. (Reserve a little bit of the liquid to make sure you get the right consistency. If you eat eggs, add one to help hold it together.) Then shape your patties and either bake them or fry em up!

  13. Christine says:

    For vegan baking, I use ener-g egg replacer, and it works great. It’s inexpensive too, one box is like $6 and is equal to 100 eggs. I don’t know if it would work as a binder because I think it is replacing the rising action of eggs in baking, not all of its properties.

    and…thanks Norma I will definitely be freezing some tofu soon!

  14. Hey Ann, tofu would definitely be a protein for the purposes of the 10-Day Challenge. So when I ate it with brown rice on the last day of that challenge, it was a violation! As a runner, it would be very difficult for me to be on that strict a diet long-term. It’s just too hard to get enough nutrients when you can’t mix protein and carbs.

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