salty/spicy/sour/sweet

It’s hard for me to believe it now, but I had a phase during which I would have turned up my nose at a dish made with tofu and kale. Okay, it was a very long phase… like the first 21 years of my life. And who could blame me, really? I’d wager to guess that many of you dear readers have spent several decades living a life of tofu-hate, or at least tofu-indifference. But today I am writing from atop my tofu soapbox to extoll the virtues of one of the most flavorful, satisfying, and easy weeknight dinners in my repertoire.

The beauty of tofu is that it is a total vehicle for whatever flavors you want to throw at it. Because it doesn’t bring much taste of its own to the table, it can handle everything that this super-flavorful glaze has to offer. I so crave the sweet/sour/salty/spicy combo of flavors that I’ve tried using it as a dressing for other kinds of protein or vegetables, but it does best with tofu because it doesn’t have to compete with anything for taste dominance.

In my book, there are two categories of tofu failure: underseasoning and sogginess. The kick provided by the glaze here is sure to head any worries about lack of seasoning off at the pass. And sogginess is eliminated by the pressing method I use while cooking the tofu. Be sure to cut your tofu into fairly thin triangles, about 1/4″ thick, and arrange them in a single layer in a large, heavy skillet. The hotter you can get the skillet before you put the tofu in, the easier it will be to eliminate the excess liquid and thus the sogginess. When you press down on the triangles with the flat side of a large spatula, the water should sizzle away, leaving you with chewy-but-still-soft deliciousness.

I usually serve the dish with a stir fry of whatever veggies I have on hand (it was kale and green beans this time around) and a grain like quinoa or brown rice.

Tofu with Chili-Lime Glaze

adapted from veganyumyum

1 block tofu, extra firm (14oz)

Vegetables to stir fry (whatever you like and have on hand)

Grain (couscous, quinoa, brown rice, or whatever you like), cooked

For the glaze:

4 T sugar

4 T tamari or soy sauce

3 T fresh lime juice

Zest of 1/2 a lime

3/4 t dried red pepper flakes

2 cloves garlic, pressed or grated

salt to taste

Prepare the glaze by whisking together all ingredients until the sugar and salt are dissolved. Set aside

Drain the tofu and cut into small triangles, about 1/4″ thick. Heat a large skillet over medium heat for several minutes until quite hot. Arrange the tofu in a single layer in the skillet. Use a spatula to squeeze the liquid out of the tofu as it cooks- the liquid will sizzle away. After about 5 minutes, there should be less and less water to be pressed out. Flip one of the triangles to see if it is beginning to turn golden brown. If it is, flip the pieces over and continue to cook by the same method on the other side. The tofu is done when both sides are golden and little liquid remains. At this point, add the glaze to the pan. You want to make sure that the pan is still very hot so the glaze will thicken up pretty much immediately. Stir to coat the tofu. After a few minutes, you can add your stir-fried veggies, if desired, so they get coated in sauce. Serve over cooked grains.

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