You know how sometimes when people don’t get along you just need to shove them in a room together, lock the door, and not let them out until they are Besties?
What? You’ve never done that?
Well, you should try it. It works.
So I figured I’d try a similar approach with two of the most feared and disliked ingredients out there: Tofu and Brussel Sprouts. I thought that maybe, just maybe, if I smashed them together they would get along and make friends and taste delicious.
1) Press tofu block between a few paper towels. Put a cutting board on top with something heavy to press out liquid. Let sit for 10 minutes.
2) Chop tofu into strips and marinate in a few tablespoons of soy sauce.
3) Prep all other ingredients. Cook rice, roughly chop brussel sprouts, and chop cilantro, garlic, etc.
4) Add a few Tablespoons of vegetable oil to a hot pan (a wok or nonstick pan works best). Add tofu in a single layer and let cook for a few minutes on high heat until the tofu starts to brown.
5) Turn tofu and brown on the second side.
6) After cooking for a few minutes on each side, add brown sugar and toss to coat tofu in sugar. Cook for a few minutes until tofu caramelizes.
7) Remove tofu and sprinkle with cilantro.
8) Add sprouts to hot pan (don't wash it) and cook for a few minutes, stirring occasionally.
9) Add garlic and rice and if pan is really try, a bit more oil. Season with salt and pepper and cook until sprouts are tender and some will be browned.
10) Serve tofu over sprouts with toppings of choice.
Adapted from a 101 Cookbooks recipe.
Prepping the Tofu
Anytime I’m searing tofu, I always press it first to get out extra water. It may not look like it, but even extra firm tofu has a lot of water in it. To press out some of the water, just set the tofu block on some paper towels, add a few paper towels on top, and set a cutting board on top with a bit of weight.
After 10 minutes a lot of water will be pressed out and the paper towels will be soaking wet.
Next, to prep the tofu for cooking, cut it into strips and toss it with a few Tablespoons of soy sauce.
The Feared Sprouts
I’m not sure why people don’t like brussel sprouts. I think they are one of the most delicious veggies out there. They have great colors and flavors and can work in a number of different dishes.
What’s not to love?
To “shred” these guys, I washed them and chopped off the stem end. Then I just roughly chopped them.
Because the sprouts kind of fall apart it, results in different textures which is nice I think.
At your convenience for this dish, you’ll also want to boil some brown rice. I literally just boiled mine in some salted water and drained it when it was cooked, which was after about 30 minutes.
You could use any kind of rice you have on hand (leftover rice would work great) or just leave it out. I think it added a great texture to the dish though.
Before starting to cook, make sure all your other ingredients are ready. I have these cool little bowls which work great for prep ingredients. Chopped cilantro, garlic, brown sugar, oil. Check.
Searing the Tofu
In a large wok or non-stick pan, add a few tablespoon of oil and crank up the heat. Add the tofu in a single layer and cook for a few minutes until the tofu is nicely browned on one side.
Then flip all the pieces and cook for another few minutes.
Next, sprinkle in the browned sugar and toss the tofu. The brown sugar will lightly caramelize and create a bit of a crust on the tofu. Just keep an eye on this or the brown sugar might burn.
After a few minutes the brown sugar should be coating all the pieces and the tofu should be a nice golden brown color. At that time, remove it from the pan and sprinkle it with some cilantro.
Cooking the sprouts
There’s no need to wash the pan for this. Just add another Tablespoon of oil and add all the sprouts. It should sizzle and pop which is a good thing. The brussel sprouts will pick up a bit of the brown sugar in the pan that’s left.
Toss the sprouts after a few minutes. Some pieces might be cooked more than others, but that’s fine.
Next, add in your rice and the chopped garlic. Mix to combine and season with salt and pepper.
Serve the tofu over the sprout mixture and top with any toppings you wish. I like a big dollop of chili garlic sauce because that’s how I roll.
I knew I would like this dish, but Betsy also really liked it which is my evidence that it was a success. She even called leftovers for lunch the next day to my disappointment.
So, if you don’t like sprouts and you don’t like tofu, maybe you’ll like them smashed together?
Ok. Probably not. But I did my best!