Monday, April 24, 2006

Tofu & Stir-Fry

Welcome to Monday! Today I made caramelized tofu, one of our all-time favorites. I fried squares of firm tofu until golden, then glazed them with a mixture of brown sugar and soy sauce. I packed the tofu next to some basmati rice, and topped them with a sprinkle of toasted sesame seeds. On the side is a dish of "Baby Carrot and Baby Corn Stir-Fry" from The Vegetarian Family Cookbook by Nava Atlas. For dessert, a honey tangerine.
Verdict: I was excited to finally get some baby corn into the lunch box; it seems so perfectly lunch box-sized. And mixing baby corn with baby carrots was certainly inspired (thanks, Nava!). Shmoo seems to have played with the corn more than eating it -- cutting it into pieces, eating the kernels off one like corn-on-the-cob, etc. The tofu was a hit, as usual. Although it's not in the picture, shmoo asked for a tiny container of soy sauce at the last minute, so he could sprinkle some on the rice and veggies. 4 stars.

45 comments:

Angel said...

No matter how hard I try, I can't get past the texture of tofu. I finally found a recipe that just barely covers the nasty taste, but that icky eggy texture just grosses me out. Tofu is something I really want to like but so far it's a no-go.

RockScissorsPaper said...

Great lunch!!!! I've been on a HUGE sesame seed kick lately and did some research on them the other night. They are FANTASTIC for you!!!!! I didn't realize they are also a very high source of calcium... apparently something like 1/4 cup of sesame seeds has as much calcium as 1 cup of milk. Check out these fun sesame seed facts:
http://www.vegparadise.com/highestperch41.html
I think i'm going to pack a similar lunch for my little guy tomorrow. Bravo!

jessica said...

jessica from TN here. i finally registered so i could post here! it took me awhile.

i love honey tangerines. i have been eating them hand over fist lately. yum.

as always, love the spectacular lunch!

Julie said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Julie said...

How delicious! :)

Do you mind sharing the measurements for the tofu marinade? Thanks!

Happy Monday!

ann said...

I really adore your site; it's such a great resource for cooking ideas. Your creativity is so inspiring!

Brieanne said...

I was wondering if anyone had suggestions for good, healthy breakfast/granola bars. I'm a college student and don't have the time or space to cook or have a formal sit-down breakfast. I tried the ThinkOrganic bars, and I like them, but they're a bit pricey and seem kind of high in fat. I also bought some Kashi Almond Flax bars to try. They don't necessarily have to be vegan, but I'm just looking to eat healthier in the mornings in a hurry!

Any and all suggestions appreciated! Thanks!

Jane M said...

Did you ever see the movie "Big"? When the Tom Hank character trys eating baby corn? So little shmoo!!!!

The lunch looks great, as usual. I would really like to know how to carmelize the tofu like that!

Laine said...

looks so yummy.. i love tofu prepared that way too. never tried sprinkling sesame seeds on top though i can understand how good they go together.
i read about the calcium thing too! from my research it seems one thing is to make sure of is that the sesame seeds are unhulled, apparently you get much more calcium from them that way.. though i'm not by any means a nutritionist or anything :)

College Vegan Athlete said...

I absolutely love tofu and this sesame tofu looks delicious. I actually find myself craving tofu if I haven't had it in a few days. I can't wait to try this one when you get the cookbook out. One question- what does a honey tangerine taste like? I love tangerines, clementines, tangeloes and any other form of mini oranges that I've tried (I love the sour taste). I've never heard of these and am now going to look out for them.

* audrey * said...

i thought of "big" too when i read about little shmoo eating the kernels!!
everything looks so yummy, especially the honey tangerines

Lori said...

I love doing marinated/baked tofu. YUMMMY! my kids think it is one of the best things ever! I use Soy Vay Very Teriyaky sauce to marinate it in if I don't have any homemade on hand. This lunch looks wonderful!

My son also eats the kernals off of babycorn....he's such a nut! :)

OshinkoTickle said...

That looks similar to sesame chicken! There is a fantastic vegan chinese place in Philly that has amazing sesame chicken! I would like to try making it with the tofu! Mmmmmmm......

I got barley malt powder from the Korean market today and now I just need to get my hands on some coconut extract so I can put the new twinkie pans that I got this week to good use. Your recipe is famous! If you google 'vegan twinkies' on the internet, you get a ton of different references to it.

Laura Faye said...

Speaking of vegan twinkies....any ideas as to where to find real coconut extract? All I ever seem to be able to find is the imitation stuff which is full of corn syrup and the like.

Jennifer, with Passover just ending, I got to thinking...have you ever tried charosets? It's an apple, walnut, and wine (or grape juice) mixture that is traditional for Passover. I think it's one of the few Passover foods that I actually look forward to! Anyway, I've noticed that little Shmoo really seems to like apples and walnuts, so I thought he might like to try charosets.

Lane said...

I haven't been able to figure out how to cook tofu that way, where it gets crispy on the outside. Do you have to use a lot of oil?

Jennifershmoo said...

Gee, I'll have to watch "Big" now! :-)

>>Do you mind sharing the measurements for the tofu marinade?

Sure, it was about 2 TB low sodium soy sauce and 3 TB natural brown sugar. You mix them together and pour them into the pan after the tofu has turned golden. Add a couple tablespoons of water and simmer, tossing a couple times, until the tofu is well-coated with a shiny glaze. Mmm.

>>any ideas as to where to find real coconut extract?

Yes, here's the kind I use:

http://www.shop.com/op/aprod-p17999225-k24-g4-~organic+coconut+extract-nover?sourceid=3

>>have you ever tried charosets?

Actually, we just went to our first Passover meal this year! Shmoo did love the charoset. We steered clear of the lamb and egg, though.

I would love to do a Jewish-inspired lunch box. I don't have much knowledge of Jewish cuisine or culture, and I'm scared to death of causing anyone offense. I'm thinking maybe some knish, some hamentaschen cookies? Or are they only eaten at a certain time of year?

>>I haven't been able to figure out how to cook tofu that way, where it gets crispy on the outside. Do you have to use a lot of oil?

Hi, Lane! I used about 2 TB of oil (canola works well) for a pound of tofu. Heat the oil on medium-high, add the tofu and let it sit, not moving it, for 2 to 4 minutes, until golden on the bottom. Flip and repeat on the other side. I use a large nonstick skillet for this. You can drain the tofu on paper towels afterwards to soak up extra oil.

Karlie said...

I also struggle with both the texture and flavour of both tofu and soy. I really REALLY dislike that nutty flavour that soy has, and there's a lot of nuts I don't like for the same reason. I'll eat cashews, pecans, and macademias, pretty much the buttery-rich ones and not regular nuts. The only way I've been able to tolerate tofu so far is the dessert ones blended into my smoothies! I actually would like to learn to like tofu but I find it very difficult.

VLyandra said...

If you don't like the texture of raw tofu, try freezing it and thawing it. It will get a much "meatier," chewier texture (which I personally am not fond of, but many people are). It'll also soak up sauce or marinade much better when frozen and thawed. Also, if you press and drain firm Chinese tofu (not the Japanese silken kind) it has a much different texture, firm and chewy.

If the taste of tofu is bothering you that much, try dunking it in boiling water for a few minutes, then drain, press, or do whatever you want with it. It definitely helps to get rid of some of that beany taste. Marinating it for a bit in whatever sauce you want can also help, since tofu really is pretty bland and will soak up the flavor of whatever you put on it. I know a lot of people who thought tofu was totally gross until I showed them how to prepare it in different ways, then they generally found a tofu dish they liked. Best of luck!

Julie said...

Thanks Jennifer!

NightOwl said...

I totally understand about tofu. I can only eat it if it's well prepared, like those beautiful golden cubes Jennifer made!

Essy said...

I'm having total cravings for that tofu, now.

(And I always wondered why Americans pronounced it 'carmelized' instead of 'caramelised'. I'd never noticed before that it was spelled differently too! Like aluminum and aluminium.)

Also, I would love to see you do a Jewish themed lunchbox.

M. Marques said...

Knishes are not holiday food, so they are eaten any time of year.

Hamentashen are associated with the holiday Purim, but could be eaten at other times. Another favourite cookie of mine are rugelleh - crescent roll cookies with a bit of apricot jam spread before rolling them up.

Angel said...

Thanks for the tips. I have tried freezing it and pressing it, although I'm not sure if it's Chinese or Japanese tofu that I'm buying. I also use the dessert tofu in my smoothies. I do think it's a preparation thing as I've had really good fried tofu in a Chinese restaurant. I'm an omni but am really trying to cut my already minimal meat intake down further. My dh on the otherhand won't touch anything new. I made a nice chocolate banana smoothie with coconut tofu in it and gave him some. He really liked it until I told him what was in it. Now he won't drink any smoothies that I make! Oh well, his loss!

R2K said...

Tofu, the classic!

New York Bathrooms

the vegan vulcan said...

This looks wonderful. I was all excited about the potato/chili gratin in my lunchbox today, but now I'm craving tofu!

Thankfully, I have a block at home in the fridge. It seems that your lunchboxes often determine what I make for dinner. . . hmmm. . .

a girl 127 said...

not all americans pronounce it "carmelized." that's a phonetic spelling, at any rate. it's always spelled "caramelized." "carmel" is the mountain in israel..."caramel" is the candy, browning of sugars/starches on the surfaces of foods, and the cooking of sugar to a certain point at which it browns and becomes.... caramel...

EatPeacePlease said...

Great lunch!

Courtney said...

On browning tofu: I've found, through trial and error, that you must have the pan fully heated before you put the tofu in. Like stir-fry, if the pan isn't fully heated, the tofu will just get soggy.

Vegetarian Cooker said...

It seems to be delicious!
See Tofu scramble

ke said...

"caramelized tofu" -- oh, heck yes. I'm trying that out tonight...

Veggie Chef said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
vegineer said...

for those who aren't big on the taste of tofu:

whe i first started cooking with it, it would almost make me gag. i couldn't make it taste the same as when i'd had it in restaurants.

i then discovered that thoroughly rinsing the tofu (to get rid of that nasty tofu-liquid taste) and pressing it (to drain out any excess liquid, so the tofu can absorb more of the marinate and hence more flavor) is KEY!

there are two ways of pressing tofu:

- if you don't have a lot of time, just take the rinsed tofu and gently press it between layers of paper towel (or clean dish towels) until no more liquid comes out.

- a more thorough method involves pressing the tofu at least a few hours before cooking with it (i usually leave it pressing overnight). place the rinsed tofu between two plates, and place a heavy can or two (or bricks, books, etc) on the top plate. the constant pressure will expel *a lot* more water, and your tofu will have the capacity to become so much more flavorful.

Shananigans said...

I’m definitely trying that glaze! I am so uncreative with the way I prepare tofu.

Lori- I love Soy Vay sauce too, I use it almost every time I make a stir fry.

One of my friends made the best hamentaschen for Purim this year. The poppy seed filling was just divine. I think a Jewish themed lunch box is a great idea, although I have to admit all my favorite Jewish foods come in the form of fattening baked goods :P

vegan marissa said...

haha. tofu stir fry. a classic!
i love this one!

Theresa said...

Try freezing tofu, too. Drain it, then wrap it up and freeze it, and when you take it out to thaw it, drain it again. It makes it soooo good!

Great looking lunch!

Cathe Olson said...

I'm so glad I finally checked out this blog. Every lunch looks amazing. And how nice to see a veganized version of my banana-molasses muffins in the previous lunch box.

I have a question though - all of these are served cold right? I am curious because while the tofu seems like it could be good cold, I'm not sure about the rice and the carrots and peas.

Jennifershmoo said...

Hi, Cathe! Hey, thanks for the great muffins.

Here's an answer from the FAQ (I knew that FAQ was going to come in handy!):

"How does he reheat things?" He doesn't; he eats things like cooked veggies, pizza, etc. cold or at room temperature. Although I have seen some classrooms with microwaves, his class does not have access to one. Before you decide that sounds awful, think of all the great cold cooked veggies and beans you find at salad bars, and think of the cold pizza college students eat for breakfast! You can eat a lot of things cold that we are simply in the habit of eating hot.

dee said...

Hey! I love your site! Your lunch ideas look yummy and fun, but most importantly healthy!

Sue said...

Jewish themed lunchbox is interesting. My favorite childhood food came from Jerusalem restaurant in Elizabeth, New Jersey and was naturally vegan (though I wasn't): Israeli salad (finely chopped tomatoes, cucumbers, green onion and some other stuff that's marinated in some sort of vinagrette), falafel sandwich and baba ganoush (pureed roasted eggplant with lemon juice, garlic and tahini). I also used to love kasha varnishka which is bowtie pasta with buckwheat. I'm sure you'll come up with something wonderful, Jennifer.

Beth Miriam said...

I'd too love to see a Jewish themed lunch box. Kinish's come in broccoli, potato and kasha as the most popular and, as a pp said, are eaten year around. You could also look at kugels--potato, vegetable or noodle.

The only way I initially ate tofu was blened into a "ranch" dip or in chocolate mousse. YUM!

4cutieboys4me said...

Cathe-
I just got home from picking up two of your books (Baby Food and The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook)!!! That's so funny to see you here...I noticed you because of the way you spell your name.

Timi said...

The glaze for the tofu looks awesome. I make tofu all the time and need something different to do with it.

Jewish food would be great. Just a clarification though so you don't end up offending people, a lot of the stuff you're thinking about like knishes, kugel, and rugalach, are only Jewish food for the Eastern European decended Jews. Lots of other Jews have never eaten it in their lives. Just like a commentor above said, it could also be falafel etc. Stuffed vegetables are also big(peppers, grape leaves, onions, all with rice). Can't wait to see what you do.

Cathe Olson said...

Thanks for the reply Jennifer and HI 4cutieboys4me - hope you like the books.

I am going to try the room temp stuff with my girls and see how it goes over. I am very excited to see the thermos on the laptop lunch system. I've been looking for stainless steel ones since I don't like to put hot food into plastic and that's all I can find in stores around here.

Donna said...

Just checking out your archives. This is awesome, I go to a vegan Chinese restaurant and have been wanting to find a recipe for their sesame tofu to make at home, this may just do the trick:-)

red said...

thank you



sohbet
muhabbet
mirc
sevgi