I bet that you’re surprised to see a tofu recipe from me, aren’t you? I’m surprised myself, to be honest. I’m not typically a huge tofu fan – the texture has never been my favorite, and I figure, why eat tofu when you can eat chicken? However, sometimes things happen and you may as well step outside your comfort zone and see what you think. You see, I use Fresh Direct for my grocery shopping, as a New York City lifestyle doesn’t often leave much time for the store. Sometimes I am missing an item or two that I’ve ordered, and sometimes my order includes a mystery item that I would never have added to my cart. It’s much like the episode of Curb Your Enthusiasm when Larry’s dry cleaner loses his favorite baseball jersey (which Leon subsequently gets back for him) – you win some, you lose some. This time, I “won” some tofu in my grocery delivery. Kramer and I had a good laugh about it, because, really, tofu? I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away, though, so I set out to make something that we would enjoy eating out of something that I would normally never have in my fridge.
I figured, since Kramer and I are tofu novices, that frying the tofu would be the first step in making it taste delicious. The second step was to create a flavorful, Asian-inspired sauce. My friend Lindsey, of Little Seed, Big Apple, had also given me a package of quinoa from her friend’s company, Keen One Foods, so I thought that this would be the perfect way to use that. I had some candy beets, which are a gorgeous variety of beet that don’t stain your hands when you chop and cook them, as well as sweet potatoes, which are quickly becoming a staple in my house. I roasted those and tossed them with the quinoa, then coated the tofu in panko and lightly fried it before tossing it in a sauce made from shallots, garlic, fresh ginger, honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, and, of course, Sriracha. The result tasted similar to something you’d find in a restaurant, if I don’t say so myself – the dish seems complicated, but is actually quite easy, and much healthier than a breaded piece of meat and pasta or rice. The quinoa, beets, and sweet potatoes are bursting with vitamins and fiber, and the tofu is high in protein and low in fat (so, of course, I had to fry it – so sue me). Go ahead and serve this vegan and vegetarian friendly dish to your tofu-hating friends and family; it’s sure to open up their world to a whole new type of cuisine!
Dice the sweet potatoes and beets, then place on a lined and/or greased baking sheet, drizzle with olive oil, honey, salt, and pepper, and bake at 400 degrees F for 15-20 minutes, tossing halfway through.
When the sweet potatoes and beets are fork tender, set aside until ready to use, then toss with your cooked quinoa.
Mince your garlic, shallots, and ginger and saute for a few minutes, until fragrant.
Add in your other sauce ingredients and bring to a boil.
Add the cornstarch and water mixture to the sauce and lower the heat to a simmer. Stir until thickened.
Cut your tofu into bite sized pieces.
Stir together your panko coating.
Dip your tofu in egg, then in the panko mixture, then add to a pan with a bit of oil over medium-high heat and cook on all sides until golden and crispy.
Set on some paper towels to drain some of the oil.
Toss your tofu in your sauce and serve over your quinoa, sweet potato, and beet salad.
- 1 package quinoa, cooked per package instructions
- 3 candy beets, cleaned, peeled, and diced into small cubes
- 2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced into small cubes
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon honey
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 block of tofu, cut into bite-size pieces (about 1 inch cubes)
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup panko crumbs
- 1 teaspoon Chinese 5-Spice
- 1 egg (or equivalent egg replacement)
- 1 tablespoon water
- vegetable or canola oil, for frying
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- 1 large shallot, minced well
- 3 cloves garlic, minced well
- 1 2-inch piece of ginger, minced well
- 3 tablespoons honey or agave nectar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2 teaspoons Sriracha or hot chili paste/sauce
- ¼ teaspoon sesame oil
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
- ¼ cup water mixed with 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- toasted sesame seeds, for garnish
- scallions, for garnish
- First, get your quinoa going. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Clean, peel, and dice your beets and sweet potatoes. Place them on a lined and/or greased baking sheet, then drizzle with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, 1 tablespoon of honey, ¼ teaspoon salt, and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and toss together. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, tossing halfway through. When they are fork tender, remove from the oven and set aside. Cook your quinoa according to its packaging's directions, then toss together with the cooked beets and sweet potatoes. Add a bit more olive oil, salt, or pepper to taste, and set aside until ready to serve (you can cover with foil to keep warm, or heat back up before serving, whichever you prefer).
- Now it's time to cook your tofu. Make sure that your tofu is completely dry by pressing it between some paper towels to soak up any water. Dice into bite sized pieces, about 1-inch cubes. Mix together you egg and 1 tablespoon of water in one shallow dish and mix together your flour and panko crumbs in another. Dip the tofu pieces in the egg mixture, then in the panko mixture. Heat ½ inch of oil in a large pot or pan over medium-high heat, and when the oil is hot, add in the tofu pieces in batches, frying on each side for about 2 minutes, until crispy. Move the tofu to a cooling rack lined with paper towels to drain, and continue frying until all of your tofu is done.
- Make the sauce by first heating your 2 teaspoons of olive oil in a pot, then adding in the minced shallot. Cook for 5 minutes or so, until translucent, then add in the garlic and ginger, and stir until fragrant. Add in the honey, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, Sriracha, sesame oil, and red pepper flakes. Cook over medium-high heat until bubbling, stirring frequently, then mix together the cornstarch and water and add to the sauce. Reduce the heat to medium, and stir until thickened. Keep the sauce on low, stirring every so often, until ready to use.
- When your tofu is cooked and your sauce is ready, place the crispy tofu in a large bowl and pour half the sauce over it. Gently toss, and add more sauce if desired. Serve over the warm quinoa and garnish with scallions and sesame seeds.