You don’t often overhear people saying, “Gee, I could go for a big piece of tofu right now.” In fact, I have never heard that. Ever. Maybe if you run in vegetarian or vegan circles you might hear something like it, but even then, do vegetarians love tofu or have they simply grown accustomed to it?
Tofu is usually the opposite of delicious. It has really no flavor and really no texture. it is bland in every sense of the word. So you will understand why this is titled, “actually yummy tofu stir fry” because by some miracle of cooking magic, this tofu is actually yummy. It is delicious! It is flavorful and has an awesome texture with a crispy coating and a creamy inside. Insane, I know!
The trick is two-fold. The first part is coating the tofu with cornstarch and pan frying it. This is the same trick that is used with sweet and sour or other Asian style crispy meat dishes. The second trick is to add a glaze to the tofu right after you have pan fried it. This results in the crispy and tasty tofu blocks.
You can add whatever vegetables you want or have on hand. It is a fun way to cram a bunch of healthy vegetables into one dish. And the tofu is the tastiest part. Which just seems wrong to say, but it’s true.
Something we should talk about with this recipe, and also something that is pertinent for all cooking, is the concept of mise en place.
Mise en place is a French term that means “everything in it’s place.” and it refers to having everything prepared and ready for use. This concept is important always, but is super important in some dishes. This is one of those dishes. You can’t be chopping the vegetables while cooking the other vegetables because you will end up pulling your hair out AND overcooking everything. Mise en place means you cut every single thing you are going to need before you even start cooking. You measure out your sauces and other ingredients and have them ready to simply pour in the pan. Everything ready to go. Roger that?
This is my stir fry mise en place. In a stir fry you are adding things in quick succession and everything needs to cook for a certain time. You put the vegetables that need longer to cook in first and add the ones that will cook very quickly at the very end. You don’t have time to be preparing as you go.
I’m fairly terrible at this! I’m a measure-once-cut-once-go-back-to-the-store-and-buy-another-piece-because-I-cut-it-wrong type of gal. Preparation is not my strong suite. It takes a lot of discipline to make myself get my mise en place. But it is crucial in this dish. Your end result will be a more enjoyable and more delicious experience.
I really hope you will give this actually yummy tofu stir fry a chance. My kids love it, at least the tofu parts. We have to negotiate over the vegetables. Oh, well.
This recipe has a lot of parts. Make sure you read through the entire thing to make sure you are clear on what goes where! Otherwise this might be a big fat disaster. And remember your mise en place.
Recipe Source: America’s Test Kitchen