A Vegan Year

Day 6: Simple Tofu Stir-fry

Day 06 Pic 1
Last night we made a rice and tofu stir-fry based very loosely on the Mee Goreng recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty cookbook. I’m sure most of you know how to throw together a stir-fry, but in case you’re entirely new to this cooking business, here’s a simple stir-fry primer:

  • Put your rice on to cook. We cooked 1.5 cups of white rice in a rice cooker and it made enough for 3-4 meals. A saucepan on the stovetop also works fine. If you prefer quinoa or noodles, they’d go well with this dish too (Mee Goreng is traditionally made with egg noodles, but you could use rice noodles instead).
  • While the rice is cooking, prepare the tofu and veggies. Drain the water from a pack of firm tofu and cut the tofu block into 4-6 strips, depending on how big you want your eventual cubes to be. And now for something… pressing. It might sound like a chore, but pressing the tofu really isn’t tricky, and it makes a big difference to the taste—if the tofu is too full of water, your flavors can’t get in. To press, lay your strips of tofu on something flat (e.g. a large dinner plate lined with a paper towel) and cover with a couple of paper towels. Now balance another plate or a cookie sheet on the tofu and place something fairly heavy on top of that to help press all that excess water out. You can use whatever you have on hand—a cookbook, a well-behaved cat, a bowl of bananas. We used a tea kettle filled with water. Leave it to press while you prepare everything else. The longer you can leave it, the better, but aim for at least 20 minutes.
  • Chop up whatever vegetables you want to add. We used an onion, a yellow pepper, bok choy, and some shiitake mushrooms.
  • Add 2 tablespoons of oil to a wok or large pan. (We used peanut oil; this handy chart suggests other options that are also suitable for stir-frying). Once the oil is hot, add the onion and cook for a minute. Drain off the water from your pressed tofu and cut the strips into cubes. Add the tofu cubes to the onion and cook for a few minutes more (make sure to give the tofu a stir while it cooks, but don’t stir too violently or you’ll break it up). Add the rest of the vegetables, cook for 2-3 minutes or until they seem pretty done, and then add whatever spices you like and give a quick stir to combine. We used coriander and cumin (start with a teaspoon of each and add more as desired), plus a dollop of Sriracha and 2 teaspoons of soy sauce. Adjust the amounts to suit your tastebuds, and add a little water if the dish seems too dry.
  • Once the rice is cooked, chuck it in the wok with everything else, stir to combine, and then serve. And don’t forget: you can always boost the flavor by adding more soy sauce and Sriracha, or a sprinkling of salt, pepper, and/or red chili flakes.

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