Flavorful tofu and veggie stir fry! The tofu if loaded with the sesame-ginger flavor and is crispy without frying! This stir fry is healthy and can be eaten with rice, quinoa, or on its own.
I’ll be the first one to admit that in my younger days when I use to see the tofu section on a restaurant menu, I’d quickly shuffle my eyes away, I couldn’t even let my brain consider it for a second. Nope. Not that. Anything but mush on a plate.
But with time came curiosity. And curiosity brought out the adventurous foodie inside (yes, I consider tofu to be adventurous. Gasp! What a daredevil!) My first tofu adventure involved a tofu and veggie stir fry — I nearly fell off my chair — in a good way! Flavorful little crispy bites of protein tossed in a sweet soy glaze with lots of crunchy veggies to accompany. No funky tofu flavors or scents. It was everything I wasn’t expecting.
I’ll never forget it.
I found myself not being able to get this veggie stir fry out of my mind over the next few days. I did a little research online to see how they could’ve gotten that tofu so crispy and perfect. I’m a texture girl, and this tofu was extra firm, extra crispy, and extra delicious. Check. Check. and Check.
My research turned up a few different routes. 1.) Frying = meh… not if I don’t have to. Onto option 2.) baking… okay.. don’t mind.. but it’s hot.. really hot. and then came option 3.) pan frying with just a hint of oil and a few tablespoons of that sesame ginger stir fry sauce. <– Caramelized sweet and saucy crispy tofu. I’m liking this option a lot.
And just look at that. The basic trick – dry the tofu. I get extra firm tofu and to give it a more dense ‘meat-like’ texture, I grab a couple of tea towels, 2 plates, and a couple of 28 oz cans (or anything that weighs a ton, like a cast iron skillet). Place a tea towel on the plate, then the tofu, followed by the second tea towel, another plate, and then place the 2-28 ounce cans on the plate. The weights help release all the water from the tofu, giving it a more firm texture that not only mimics meat but also soaks up any kind of sauce that you dunk it in.
I couldn’t stop myself from popping a few of these crispy tofu pieces while I was sautéing the veggies.
The rest of the recipe is simple. Just your regular stir fry ingredients: ginger, garlic, sesame oil, a little soy sauce, and brown sugar.
When I was recipe testing this veggie stir fry, I almost pleaded Anees to give this a try. Usually, the word ‘tofu’ has him scrambling in the other direction. Reluctantly he agreed. And to my surprise, it was better than he thought it was going to be. And that’s as good as him saying he’ll switch out his morning coffee for a kale smoothie. The second time around he ate a piece of the crispy stir fried tofu and actually liked it. <– Never in a million years did I expect that would happen! But hey, maybe the third time around he’ll love it? High hopes.
I’ll take the ‘I like it’ and consider it a victory!
- 1- 14 ounce extra firm tofu
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons oil (vegetable, canola, coconut)
- 2 1/2 cups green beans, roughly chopped
- 1 cup carrots, sliced or baby carrots cut lengthwise
- 1 tablespoons sesame oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 1/2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 1 tablespoons rice vinegar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons water
- TOFU: Place a folded tea towel in the shape of the tofu on a plate. Drain the tofu from the package and place the tofu on the prepared plate. Place another tea towel on top (in the shape of the tofu) followed by another plate and 2-28 ounce cans or anything that weighs 2-3 pounds to help remove the water from the tofu. Let the tofu dry for at least 15-20 minutes and ideally, I like to let it go for an hour. Once dry, cut the tofu up into 1-inch cubes and toss in 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and the 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
- SAUCE: While the tofu is drying, prepare the sauce. Combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a blender or food processor and blend until completely smooth. Set aside.
- STIR FRY: In a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, add 2 tablespoons of oil and swirl to coat pan. Add the cubed tofu to the pan and let fry for 3 minutes. Flipping the tofu as needed to brown all sides. Add 2 tablespoons of the prepared sauce to the tofu and allow to cook for an additional 2-3 minutes. When the tofu is caramelized, remove to a plate. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon of oil to the pan. Add the veggies and toss to coat. Cook the veggies for 3-4 minutes or to desired doneness. Add the sauce and let it thicken just slightly. Add the tofu and stir to coat. Cook for an additional 1-2 minutes or until the tofu has a chance to soak up the flavor.
- SERVE: Serve warm with rice, quinoa, or on its own. The tofu will lose it's crispness as it sits. Best when eaten fresh.