Asian Tofu with Farm Market Vegetables

img_20190407_192056_126One of the recipe creation scenarios I find the most difficult is when I have no springboard recipe to ADAPT, no CONFINED set of ingredients. I feel overwhelmed with choice, which I’m sure most of you can relate to. But putting myself out of my comfort zone is the purpose of this blog. So allow me to present my first “random” recipe. It’s a pretty basic asian stir fry, but I developed the recipe in the moment at the produce market, and it has a sauce with a lot of components, which is something I really struggle with. I think it came out great! I look forward to doing more in the future.

The details:

Jump to recipe

Thought process:

20190223_160038I went on a Saturday morning to Haymarket, which is an outdoor produce market in my neighborhood. I don’t call it a farmers market, because none of the vendors are farmers. Instead, they’re wholesalers, selling their produce at a huge discount. A box of strawberries with a single moldy berry mixed in? That will be $1. Two pounds of tiny russet potatoes? $1. Wayyy more cucumbers than anyone could sell? 10 for $2. Haymarket is loud, it’s chaotic. No haggling allowed.

My first step at the market was to walk around the whole place and see what looked good. Since it was early spring, that wasn’t much. What caught my eye was a bunch of radishes. I love the almost fluorescent color red radishes can bring to a dish, and they also provide a crunch that a lot of cooked food is lacking. Once I had one ingredient locked down, my options rapidly narrowed. I most frequently associate radishes with either asian or latin dishes. The addition of cucumbers cemented this as an asian dish. I decided at the market to pick up some firm tofu for protein, which I marinated in an asian-style sauce since the vegetables wouldn’t retain too much sauce on their own. To round out the dish, I picked up some wax beans and cilantro. When I got home I added in some cauliflower I had left over from a previous dish. I cooked it all as a stir fry and served it over brown rice.

Creating a recipe this way was anxiety-provoking, but when I broke it down into manageable bits – what’s the first ingredient? what other ingredients go with that? how will I BALANCE the flavors, textures, and nutrition? – it became much easier.

20190407_184557Stir fry – This is a great option for a relatively fast and easy meal that contains a lot of vegetables. But just because it’s easy doesn’t mean you should throw everything in a pan and it’s done. Different vegetables can have vastly different cooking times based on how dense they are and your preferred doneness. If you put your spinach in at the same time as your carrots, your spinach will be completely pulverized by the time the carrots are done. Instead, Separate your ingredients and add them to the pan starting with the longest cooking and finishing with the shortest.

White vs brown rice – I eat a lot of both white and brown rice. Brown rice is healthier, but it does take longer to cook. If you think you don’t really like the flavor of brown rice, I recommend trying it as an accompaniment to a dish with a lot of flavorful sauce, such as a curry. In that setting I usually can’t tell the difference between white and brown. The only dish I tend to insist on white rice for is fried rice, because I think the texture is very important.

Tofu – I have been eating more tofu recently in an effort to grow to like it because it is so much better for the environment. My usual issue is that it’s pretty flavorless, but in this recipe it soaked up the marinade like a sponge and basically delivered a flavor explosion. My usual preparation of tofu is to buy extra firm tofu, then press it following a method similar to this one at Spruce Eats. I want it to be as dry as possible so I’m not eating all that weird liquid, to improve the texture, so it gets a good crust in the pan, and so it sponges up all the flavors I add.

Below, the recipe:

Asian Tofu with Farm Market Vegetables

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 cucumber, peeled and julienned
  • 3 red radishes, thinly sliced in half moons
  • 2 cups wax beans, trimmed
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 6 green onions, cut into 3rds
  • 16 oz extra firm tofu – pressed, cut into 1 in cubes
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/4 cup cilantro, rough chop
  • 2 cups brown rice, cooked according to package directions

20190407_180113Marinade/sauce

  • 1 Tbsp red miso
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 tsp honey
  • 1 Tbsp mirin
  • 1 Tbsp tamari or soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp fish sauce (leave out if you want it to be vegan or vegetarian)
  • 2 Tbsp ponzu
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp sambal olek
  1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the marinade ingredients then add the tofu and marinate at least 15 min
  2. In a large saute pan or wok, heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil over medium
  3. Add the cauliflower, season with 1 tsp salt and a pinch of black pepper and saute 10 min
  4. Add the wax beans and cook another 5 min
  5. Remove vegetables to a plate
  6. Transfer the tofu to the pan (leaving the marinade behind) and add green onions, then saute until the tofu is well browned on all sides, ~8 min
  7. Remove the tofu
  8. Deglaze the pan with the white wine and add the remaining marinade to cook 3 min
  9. Add the tofu and vegetables back to the pan and toss to warm
  10. Serve over rice topped with radishes and cilantro

Rating:

5/5 stars.5 stars
The marinade for this was so tasty! I am really pleased that I pushed my boundaries and came up with a great and healthy dish.

One thought on “Asian Tofu with Farm Market Vegetables

  1. Pingback: Pasta with Pesto and Flaked Salmon – Results Not Guaranteed

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