So, originally I had plans to make some marinaded tofu and eat it with a side of greens for lunch. I didn’t have time to cook the tofu that day so I threw it in the fridge and saved it for the next day. I did this totally forgetting that I’d made the marinade super concentrated so that I wouldn’t have to do a long soak. The result by the next day was tofu that was super flavorful, but a bit too salty to eat on its own. I decided to do a stir fry and chop the tofu into small pieces. It was actually pretty spectacular tasting if I do say so myself. Thogg liked it enough for seconds.
This is not exactly a traditional vietnamese recipe, but it uses the flavors I grew up with so that’s what I’m calling it. Also, you can substitute pretty much any veg for what I have used here. I basically used what I had in my fridge and garden but you can use chopped cabbage, boc choy, zucchini, etc.
For the Tofu
- 1 package extra firm tofu (I like the TJ’s sprouted tofu, I think it has more flavor and a better texture than most)
- Mirin (you can use sherry and spike it with some honey or sweetener)
- Korean soy sauce (or regular soy sauce but add some honey or sugar to sweeten it)
- Cayenne powder or chili flakes
- Olive oil
- Sesame oil
- minced garlic
- The reason I didn’t include quantities is because how much you use depends on how large a container you marinade in. You need enough liquid to cover your tofu, using a very small tupperware container or plastic bag is your best bet. If using Mirin and Korean soy sauce, you’ll want about a 50/50 mixutre of them. Then add a pinch of pepper flakes, about a tablespoon or two of olive oil, a Tablespoon of sesame oil and a few cloves of minced garlic. Another thing I can’t stress enough… the flavor of the soy sauce, mirin, or other cooking sauces varies a lot by brand. Taste it before you marinade your food in it. Also, if you use sherry instead of mirin you may have to lower the amount and add some water and a lot of honey, agave nectar or sugar. I’ve noticed that mirin has a much lighter and pleasing taste on the palate than sherry.
- Slice the tofu into sheets about 1/2 inch thick. If you have a rack or cooking screen you can press the tofu in order to allow the marinade to penetrate better. Drain the tofu and set them on the screen. Place a small backing sheet or flat plate on top and then set a 32oz can on top as the weight. Let drain for about an hour or so.
- Place the drained and pressed tofu in the marinade for a few hours. If you would like to marinade overnight, you might want to add a little water to the marinade to dilute it depending on how salty your soy sauce is.
- In a frying pan, add some olive oil and warm it up to medium heat. Pan fry the tofu until it becomes medium dark brown. It probably won’t get very crispy but will get dark because of the sugar in the mirin and korean soy sauce. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch sticks. Then slice the sticks into thin chunks. How thin depends on personal preference and how richly flavored the tofu is. Salty tofu is best in very small pieces.
- Don’t throw out the marinade. Also, save the oil in the frying pan, you can use this to cook the veg in a minute.
For the Stirfry
- One medium onion or a few shallots – sliced fairly thin
- 3 cloves of garlic – minced
- 2 carrots – sliced fairly thin
- 3 stalks of celery – sliced thin
- 1 bell pepper – cut into chunks about 3/4 of an inch
- All of your sliced tofu
- One or two tomatoes – sliced into thin wedges
- 1/2 a package of thin dried asian egg noodles
- Sliced chives (optional)
- chopped cilantro for garnish (don’t throw out the cilantro stalks, they can be sliced very thin and then added while cooking the other veg for additional flavor)
- Left over tofu marinade
- Ground pepper
- Additional soy sauce (if needed)
- In a large pot of boiling water add your noodles and cook for a few minutes until they have softened but are not squishy. You want them a little aldente since they will soften more in the frying pan later. I used 1/2 a package of very thin (about angel hair thin) asian egg noodles. I can’t remember the weight but it was probably equivalent to about 1.5 to 2 packages of ramen noodles. Drain the noodles and set them aside.
- Into a large frying pan over medium high heat, one or two tablespoons of olive oil (or less if you have left over oil from making the tofu). Add your onions and cook until they begin to get a little golden on the edges and start to turn translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds or until fragrant. Add the carrots and celery and cook for another minute or two. Add the bell pepper and cook for another minute. If you have saved and chopped the cilantro stems add them now. Add the tomato and about 1/4 tsp of fresh ground pepper and then place the cooked noodles on top. Pour 2 or 3 tablespoons of the marinade over everything. If the noodles are too long and stay clumped together in a mess, you can use some clean kitchen scissors and cut them shorter. After stirring everything around, give it a taste. Use additional marinade liquid or soy sauce until it has enough flavor. Add the chives and cilantro. Toss and serve.