Some nights even someone who likes to cook is just stumped. My car is in the shop, so I am limited as to how many groceries I can carry home. Since I almost always have a good supply of vegetables and some extra firm tofu around, I thought why not do a stir fry? I quickly looked online and found this recipe which I played with and decided for a little decadence to make some vegan coconut rice to go alongside. After speaking with Frances’ mother recently, I decided to mix my rice up a bit and added dried moong beans to the rice. This may be more South Asian than stir fry Asian, but I’m a big believer in not being totally bound by tradition, and am willing to mix it up a bit, taking the best from complimentary cuisines. And please don’t tell Frances’ mother, but I am not nearly as big a fan of sticky rice as I am of Basmati rice, so my other heresy is to use that to accompany my stir fry!
While I used fresh tofu for this recipe, there is decent shelf stable tofu available so you can always have some on hand for a quick dinner. Cooking the tofu this way gives it a wonderful bite and mouth-feel. This dish was deliciously sweet and spicy and very, very satisfying. I used what I had on hand, but don’t be afraid to play with the mix of vegetables. And if you want to keep it simple or lower in calories, make plain, sticky rice.
Tofu Vegan Stir Fry with Coconut Rice adapted from the Minimalist Baker
Yield: 2 generous portions
One 14-ounce package firm or extra firm tofu
2 cups roughly chopped green beans ( I used the French haricot verts and just cut them in half)
1 cup each sliced carrots and sweet bell peppers
4 large mushrooms, sliced (I used Cremini, but almost any kind will do)
2 Tbsp peanut oil for sautéing
Toasted sesame oil for drizzling
Finely chopped scallions (optional)
Lightly toasted cashews (optional)
Toasted sesame seeds (optional)
1/2 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 rounded teaspoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon granulated or demerara sugar
1 Tbsp agave, maple syrup (or honey if not vegan)
2 Tbsp cornstarch
2 T dry Sherry
2 T vegetable stock or water
2 generous teaspoons Gochujong or other hot sauce or to taste
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C) and begin drying your tofu. Drain, remove it from the package and place it on a plate that has sides and is large than the tofu block. Cover with a piece of parchment or waxed paper and weight the tofu with a heavy skillet or bricks. Leave this for about 30 minutes and then pour off the liquid.
2. Once dry, chop into roughly 1- inch cubes or 1.25 x 1.25-inch squares.
3. Arrange tofu on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet to prevent sticking and bake for a total of 25 to 30 minutes, flipping once halfway through to ensure even cooking. This will dry out the tofu and help give it a more meat-like texture.
4. Once the tofu is golden brown and a bit tough and firm, remove from the oven set it out to dry a bit more while you prep your vegetables. Ideally, it would set out another 45 minutes or even longer. ( I actually made my tofu a couple of days ahead since my husband ended up working late and I didn’t make this the night I originally intended it for. I refrigerated the cooked tofu and took it out about 30 minutes before cooking it.)
5. If serving over rice, start the rice at this point.
6. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together all of the sauce ingredients – set aside. (I actually made the sauce a day ahead and it kept, covered on my counter until I was ready to use it. All I had to do was whisk it together when I was ready to cook.)
7. To a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, add peanut oil and swirl to coat. Then add veggies and toss to coat. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring often. Cover the pan and cook on a low heat for about 3 minutes. When the vegetables have some color and have softened a bit, add the tofu and stir through. Then add the sauce down the inner side of the wok. It should bubble and thicken. This will only take a couple of minutes
8. I like my veggies pretty crunchy, but if you like the softer, cook for another minute or two. When veggies are cooked to your preferred doneness, remove from heat. Serve as is or over rice, drizzle with sesame oil and garnish, if desired.
Coconut Rice With Moong Beans
1 cup rice of choice (I used Basmati)
1/2 cup of dried moong beans (dal)
One 13.5 ounce (or 14 ounce) can of coconut milk
1.25 cups of water
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 rounded teaspoon granulated or demerara sugar
- Rinse and drain your rice and moong beans in cool water.
- Bring all of the other ingredients to a boil in a medium pot with a tight-fitting lid. Add the drained rice and moong beans and return to a boil.
- Reduce the heat to a simmer and cover the pot tightly. Cook for about 15 minutes or until the liquid is all absorbed and the rice is tender.