Sunday, October 16, 2011

Sauteed Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry

Tofu is boring, but not when The 99 Cent Chef gets his spatula under it! I give mushy tofu cubes some spine by coating, then sauteing in cornstarch. And, I add much needed flavor by mixing ginger into the crispy coating.

I've done a Veggie Stir Fry before (click here), but over time I've improved that older recipe. It's time for version 2.0! Ginger, oyster and soy sauce, with honey, kick up the flavor profile to scrumptious heights.

Tofu is cheap, too, even my local 99c only Store is stocking 12.3 ounce packages of it. And I've seen tofu at our local Trader Joe's for less than two bucks per container. So, since tofu has hit my price point, it's time to do something with it.

And, the last couple of months, I've also found packages of a fresh Vegetable Stir Fry mix that includes snow peas, broccoli, and carrots. It's a perfect mix, and at 9 ounces it's enough to feed two. If you have local budget veggies, almost any will work in my chintzy stir fry.

If you're uninspired by bland tofu, give my flavorful recipe a go. You can serve my Sauteed Tofu and Veggie Stir Fry over rice, or cheap ramen noodles (as I did this time). It's also tasty just by itself.

I've added a new feature, at the end of this post, called Hindsight. Just some notes, changes or additions I would make to any published recipe. Sometimes, while creating and cooking a recipe, I think of improvements, or just a simple recipe tweak. I never make a recipe the same way twice anyway, so look under Hindsight to see any changes, or tasty enhancements, on this, and future recipe posts.

Ingredients (2 servings)
  • 1 package of tofu - I used a 12.3 ounce pack. Use firm if you can get it cheap.
  • Vegetable Stir Fry package - I found a 9 ounce one. You could use frozen stir fry veggies, too. Or make your own veggie mix from locally grown, and on sale, produce - about 2 to 3 cups worth.
  • 1 teaspoon of chopped garlic - fresh or from jar.
  • 1/2 cup of Corn Starch - for frying tofu, and thickening stir fry sauce.
  • 3 tablespoons Oyster Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Soy Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey - or favorite sweetener, optional.
  • 1 tablespoon powered Ginger - optional. Okay to use fresh chopped ginger.
  • 1 cup of water or broth
  •  1 tablespoon Corn Starch/Ginger mix - added to stir fry sauce.
  • 3 tablespoons of vegetable oil - I used sesame oil (2 tbsp. for sauteing tofu, and one more for the veggie stir fry.)

Directions for Sauteing Tofu
If you are serving this dish over rice, then get it going first.

You want to start heating your wok to a medium temperature. Add a tablespoon of oil; I used sesame oil but you could use regular vegetable oil. You want the oil to be hot when you add the tofu.

Drain packaged tofu. Slice into about 2 inch cubes -- not looking for perfectly cut sizes. I got about 10 cubes. Spread out corn starch on a flat plate. Mix in 1 tablespoon of powered ginger (or fresh chopped.)  Carefully lay down tofu onto plate and spoon cornstarch/ginger mix onto top of tofu cubes.

With a spatula or large spoon, carefully move coated tofu into the hot wok. I cooked it in two batches of 5 coated tofu cubes. Make sure the tofu cubes don't touch, or the crispy coating will stick, and pull off, when you separate tofu cubes. Once you place the tofu in the wok you don't need to move it around. After 3-5 minutes, peek under a tofu cube to see if it is lightly brown. Turn over tofu cubes when one side is done, and saute for another 3-5 minutes.

Move lightly browned tofu to a plate -- no need to drain off oil on a paper towel, as very little is used for sauteing. Add another tablespoon of oil if needed for the next batch of tofu. Repeat sauteing on each side for about 5 minutes, then carefully place on plate with the other tofu.

Directions for Stir Fry
If you are serving this entree over ramen noodles, now would be a good time to start cooking it.

Add a tablespoon of oil to medium/high heated wok . Allow oil to heat up for a minute, then add your stir fry veggies. Continuously move the veggies around to cook all sides - for about 5 minutes. Next add garlic, mix well and cook for a minute.

Now, time to blend the stir fry sauce. Add oyster sauce, soy sauce and honey. In a cup of water, or broth, whisk in 1 heaping tablespoon of the leftover cornstarch/ginger mix. Add the slurry to the wok and mix into the veggies. It should quickly thicken after about 3 minutes. Remove stir fry from heat.

Assemble plate with noodles or rice, add veggies, then top with sauteed tofu. Finally drizzle some of the sauce on the sauteed tofu and noodles or rice.

A few additions for mixing into the Tofu Coating include: a tablespoon of sesame seeds, chopped garlic (or garlic powder,) a dash of hot chile powder (or a minced hot pepper), extra ginger, or crushed black pepper corns. Sprinkle tofu with a few drops of liquid smoke. Mix some crushed peanuts (or any nuts) into the corn starch. Scrape off the zest of an orange or lemon for a fruity flavor to mix into the coating.

For the Stir Fry Sauce, try adding a teaspoon of fish sauce. If you have a favorite premixed stir fry sauce, including teriyaki sauce, it's okay to use that instead. Chunks of canned pineapple (or fresh) is a sweet addition.


lynn said...

yum! i need to head over and pick up some 99 cent tofu!

Nancy said...

One of my friends taught me a neat thing with the tofu. He freezes it and then coats it in curry powder and a little cornstarch before frying it. The freezing changes the texture and the curry really pushes the flavor.

I love your recipes. It's taught me to appreciate all sorts of new things. lol

99 Cent Chef said...

hi Nancy, like the freezing & curry additions.

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