Spicy Maple Tofu
After what is normally considered one of the greatest meat weekends of the year, I figured it would be a good time to post an awesome vegetarian recipe that I’ve been sitting on for a while.
It involves that ingredient that makes a lot of people make an icky face: tofu.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Most people who don’t like tofu have probably never had it prepared correctly. When prepared and seasoned right, it’s actually really tasty. Not to mention that it’s also very healthy.
So eat your tofu people.
If you refuse though, you could put the sauce in this post on the spare tire for your car and eat that without too much worry. You could also put it on chicken I guess.
Spicy Maple Tofu
Yield: Serves 3-4.
1 pound extra firm tofu, pressed and cubed
2 Tablespoons oil
1/4 Cup soy sauce
1/3 Cup real maple syrup
1-2 Tablespoons chili garlic sauce
2 inches fresh ginger, grated
2 scallions, minced
Rice or wheat berries for serving
1) Cut tofu in half so you have two thinner sheets. Press the tofu between paper towels with a weight on top for 15-20 minutes to press out as much water as possible. Cube tofu and set aside.
2) Grate ginger and chop scallions. Combine with other sauce ingredients in a bowl.
3) Add a few tablespoons of oil to a large nonstick pan or wok. Heat over medium-high heat and add tofu.
4) Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally until tofu is nicely browned.
5) Remove tofu and pour in sauce. Turn heat down to medium low.
6) Stir for 5 minutes until sauce starts to thicken. Then add tofu back in and continue to simmer.
7) When sauce is thick and sticking to tofu, remove from heat.
8) Serve over wheat berries or rice!
The thing that most people don’t realize about tofu is how much water is in it. Even the extra-firm kind is basically a big fat soy sponge. There’s tons of water in it and if you just chop it up and throw it in a hot pan, you’re going to end up with pretty bad results.
The tofu will steam rather than get nice and crispy.
So it’s important to get out as much of that liquid as possible before cooking the tofu. I do this by setting out a few paper towels, cutting the tofu in half so I have two thin sheets, adding a few more paper towels on top and then set something flat and heavy on top.
Let it sit for about 20 minutes with something heavy on it and when you come back you’re paper towels will be completely soaked with liquid.
Now you can cube up your tofu and set it aside until you need it!
The Sweet Heat
One of my favorite flavor profiles in the world is sweet heat. More specifically in this case, sweet/salty/heat. The ingredients are pretty simple for the sauce, but they really get the job done.
The key thing to remember about this recipe is to use real maple syrup. Yes. It’s expensive. I know. But if you’re going to use the sugar stuff you might as well just use brown sugar (which you can do).
But the subtle maple flavor and sweetness that the real syrup gives is pretty hard to beat in my opinion. Just mix up all your ingredients in a large bowl and stir it together.
Set this aside until needed.
Cooking the tofu
When you’re ready to cook up that soy stuff, add a few tablespoons of oil to a large nonstick pan or a wok. Get it nice and hot over medium-high heat and then add all your tofu.
I usually let my tofu cook for about 8-10 minutes, tossing it occasionally to try to get each side slightly crispy.
This was my tofu this time around. Not every side is browned, but that’s okay. The texture will be there.
To finish the dish, take your tofu out of the pan and immediately pour in all your maple sauce. Turn the heat down to medium-low and stir this until it starts to thicken, about 5 minutes.
Then toss your tofu back in and continue to let it simmer down until the sauce is sticking really nicely to the tofu.
This is almost ready.
I served this stuff with some leftover wheat berries I had, but rice would be the standard thing I think.
Betsy and I loved this dish. The flavors are intense, but not over-powering at all.
And spicy maple is my new baby. You’ll be seeing more spicy maple stuff in the future.