Sunday, December 13, 2009

Brococoli Almond Sweet-and-Sour Tofu - Vegan Yum Yum (p. 40)

1 tub extra firm tofu, pressed
2 tsp. Ener-G Egg Replacer, plus 4 tsp. water, mixed
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 peanut or canola oil [I used peanut]
1/2 c. sliced almonds
1 to 2. c steamed broccoli
sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

3.5 TBL. seasoned rice vinegar
1/4 c. + 1 TBL. H20 [H2 the izzo!]
2 TBL. + 2 tsp. sugar
2 TBL. tamari
2 tsp. ketchup
1 tsp. molasses
1/4 tsp. ginger powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1.5 TSP. cornstarch + 2 TBL. water, mixed.
1) Slice the tofu into triangles or small cubes. [Lauren (the author, of course) suggests that smaller is better. This is where the pre-cubed tofu in the tub would be very handy, since my hand-cut cubes were fairly sizable pieces.]
2) Toss the tofu with the egg replacer/water mixture until coated. Then toss in cornstarch until each piece is coated and dry, adding more cornstarch if needed.
3) Heat oil in a large wok.
4) While the oil is heating, make the sweet-and-sour sauce. In a small sauce pan, mix rice vinegar, water, sugar, tamari, ketchup, molasses, ginger powder, and salt and whisk until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Add the cornstarch/water mixture and whisk until the sauce thickens. Lauren cautions to keep your eye on the sauce and whisk frequently, as the sauce will burn is left unattended. When thick, turn off heat and set aside.
5) Place tofu in the hot oil, and fry for 3 to 5 minutes until golden on the bottom, then flip and brown the other side. Lauren suggests not crowding the tofu cubes and advises cooking the tofu in batches, if necessary. Right before you are going to take the tofu out, add the almonds and fry them for about 30 seconds.
6) When done cooking tofu and almonds, drain the oil and place the mix into a large bowl.
7) Pour sweet-and-sour sauce over tofu and almonds, add fresh steamed broccoli, and gently toss to coat. Optionally, garnish with sesame seeds, and serve immediately.

Comments: What a slimy and sticky mess the tofu was! My methodology was to place the tofu cubes in a bowl, dump in the peanut oil, then dump in the cornstarch on top. This resulted in a sticky, gooey gunk. And the large tofu cubes did not hold their shape well. That said, if I were to make this dish again, I would lightly coat the tofu cubes in the oil, then roll each cube around a plate of cornstarch, much like one does when coating a chicken breast with breadcrumbs.

That said, I am not sure I would bother trying to pan-fry the tofu again. It doesn't seem the healthiest way to prepare the 'fu and, as previously insinuated, the results were underwhelming. ["I know you can overwhelmed and I know that you can be underwhelmed, but can you ever, just be whemled?" "I think you can in Europe" - Name the movie, win a bike!]

On the other hand, the sweet-and-sour sauce was a delight! This would be a great sauce for dipping vegan egg rolls (Note to self: Find recipe for vegan egg rolls) or even drizzled over steamed veggies and rice.

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