June 13, 2024

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This crispy tofu got me hooked on tofu

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I’ve been on a tofu kick lately. But did you know? I never thought I would write that sentence. I grew up in the Midwest on meat and potatoes, and beef was on the dinner table far too often. For most of my life, I’ve thought of tofu as something other people enjoy — it just wasn’t the case for me. Even when I lived in a vegan co-op, I avoided it, preferring other plant-based proteins to the creamy white lumps of bean curd.

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About five years ago, spurred on by friends who loved tofu and my desire to become a recipe developer, I decided I would need a Understanding and embracing the component. After all, it’s a staple in the diets of millions of people around the world. They are highly nutritious and a dense source of complete protein that doesn’t come with the animal welfare issues or climate crisis that meat brings. I was about to learn to love tofu.

Get the recipe: Crispy tofu and fried zucchini

I started cooking with it, trying silky, firm, extra firm, and firm varieties. I ate plain, marinated, stir-fried, baked, stir-fried, and grilled tofu. I sliced ​​it, shredded it, crumbled it, cut it into cubes, and cut it into bars. Gradually, I started to enjoy it. But whenever I get hungry, I still don’t think: I’d like some tofu now.

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Then I met my friend Joe. He is a good cook and tofu is often in his fridge. One night, he fried okonomiyaki for dinner and covered each pancake with slices of seasoned, toasted tofu. I thoroughly enjoyed it so much that I assumed it was an aberration. Maybe I was really hungry, I thought. A few weeks later, he made us eggplant and tofu with sweet, spicy, and savory sauce. It was served with rice – my favorite meal – and I only had seconds. I had a third.

“How is this tofu so good?” I exploded, my mouth still half full.

“I love it when the outside is a little crunchy and the inside is still spongy, right?” Joe said.

That was it. It’s not that I haven’t had fried tofu before. It was that I never stopped appreciating his great potential for compositional diversity. In the right oil, at the right temperature, cubes of tofu acquire a golden brown crust while the inside remains tender. I like these fried little pieces so much that I often put them in my mouth, like popcorn bars.

Stir-fried tofu was the catalyst for this recipe, a seasonal stir-fry with an adaptable sauce. First, you’ll fry cubes of tofu in vegetable oil until you grab that thin, crisp exterior. Then stir-fry the scallions and zucchini until softened and blistering. Form a ginger garlic sauce and a few pantry items, including soy sauce, oyster sauce, garlic chili sauce, or — my favorite — Dubanjiang or Sichuan chili paste. Depending on the base you use, you’ll end up with a quick skillet glaze in something savory; sweet and savory; or sweet, salty, or spicy.

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After I developed this recipe, I’ve made it three more times—not only to test it, but because it’s so easy to love, it’s become my favorite way to eat tofu.

Get the recipe: Crispy tofu and fried zucchini