Because I’m always posting low sodium recipes here that are all meat based, I’m not certain that everyone knows I’m a vegetarian. It’s not something I advertise I guess and all of my family members are meat eaters, but those close to me know that I’ve been a true vegetarian (not vegan because I love my cheese) for 30 years now. I’m always looking for a way to add protein into my diet. I eat nuts, beans, and leafy greens, but I’m often left wanting something more substantial so I turn to tofu.
Now before we continue, yes, I’ve heard the banter about soy being bad for me, but I’ve also read many more studies about the benefits of soy by dietitians and doctors than I have about the detriments. It’s all about moderation and choosing the right forms of soy. Just like carbs, red meats, and other food sources that often get a bad rap, if used in moderation, soy products like tofu can actually benefit you. In fact, tofu is a good source of protein and contains all eight essential amino acids. It’s an excellent source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese, selenium, and phosphorous. In addition, it’s a good source of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1. OK, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get on to the tofu cooking process.
I know what you’re thinking. Tofu is squishy, slimy, and it just can’t be done right from home. Every time I hear someone say they don’t like tofu, I automatically think it’s because they don’t know how to cook tofu. It took me a while to get it right, but I love my at-home tofu recipes now as much as I love the ones I order in restaurants. Cooked correctly, tofu is perfect as a protein substitute in many dishes, but my favorites are Asian and Mexican like stir fry and taco salads. Start with a high-quality block of organic tofu (if you’re lucky enough to live in an area where tofu is made fresh at a local market, get that instead).
Place your block of tofu between 2 plates and use something relatively heavy to place on the top plate to squeeze the juices from the block, about 5 minutes on both sides, draining in between. It may take longer, just watch until the juices stop draining out.
Carefully cut your tofu in to slabs. I cut mine in to 3 blocks length wise, then slice it about 1/2 inch thick across the width. Then season as desired. I use a little bit of sea salt and some black pepper on each side. It’s a simple flavor combination that pairs well with most dishes.
Heat about 5 teaspoons of extra virgin olive oil in a deep frying pan or wok on medium heat and fry your seasoned tofu on each side for 5-6 minutes each. Just watch for crispness because you’ll know when it’s done. This tofu is NOT squishy, slimy, or yucky. In fact, it’s simply delicious and it really doesn’t take any time at all to make. You can even store the leftovers in an air-tight container in the refrigerator to use throughout the week. It’s perfect in a stir fry, tacos, burritos, taco salads, or really anything you’d use chicken strips for. You’ll never look at tofu the same once you try this.
- 1 cup cooked tofu
- 1 red bell pepper, pitted and cubed
- ¼ red onion, cut into squares
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- ½ cup snow peas
- 1 cup stir fry sauce of choice (I use a low-sodium General Tso's Sauce)
- 4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- Fry tofu and set aside.
- Heat olive oil.
- Cut onion, pepper, and mushrooms, and place in heated oil.
- Put whole snow peas in the vegetable mixture.
- Heat on low to medium heat for about 10 minutes. Vegetables should still be crisp, but a little tender.
- Stir in sauce and toss.
- Put the tofu in the pan and toss and cook an additional minute or so until everything is mixed well and heated.
Tofu, it’s what’s for dinner. Try it. You might like it. It’s a great source of protein, it tastes great when it’s cooked right, and it’s extremely versatile. How do YOU tofu?