Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sweet Chili Tofu on Vermicelli and Spinach

Tofu done right for once!

This recipe all started today when I got home early enough to make some proper dinner. I haven't grocery shopped in a while and I had no intention on going to the store. Tonight was reserved to hang out with myself. Usually it's the result of having too many late nights and grounding myself. This time.. I guess I would call it a punishment for being lazy. Eating vegan for over two years now, I have figured out how to get away with little cooking. Lately I have been living off of various rice dishes (See: formula for an easy wholesome meal) and it has gotten a little boring. So I got hunting around in my kitchen to see what I had available to make something a little different. What did I find? Tofu, Spinach, basil, and lime. This sparked an issue with me that I don't think I have talked about here. I have never been able to cook a piece of tofu and make it as good as a restaurant. Mine is always too soft, too spongy, overdone, underdone, over-marinated.. You name it, I have messed it up with tofu. It always taste good, but just doesn't taste the way it does when I get it in any restaurant.

I have done a little research and it seems the overwhelming response to this question is dry-frying. I saw it a couple of ways and decided to try one that did not seem to require marinating the tofu. I was hungry, and frankly I hate waiting that extra hour and I'm never prepared in advance to do it before work. This can be done in advance or right before using. It only takes a few minutes to prepare too.

Step 1: Heat a non-stick skillet to medium heat

Step 2: Chop your tofu into thin pieces. I cut mine into eights and then I cut the rectangles in half diagonally to make wedges
Slice it thin and do any shape you want. Triangles are easy and look good
Step 3: Put the tofu in the pan. Don't over lap

Who knew that getting restaurant consistency is so easy! Throw it in a pan

Step 4: Press the tofu to let some water out, cook 5 minutes or until golden brown

Step 5: Flip and repeat step 4

From start to finish it takes about 10 minutes to cook. From here, you can store, marinate or use as is. I was amazed because this was the closest I have gotten to restaurant-style tofu. It was really good and the right consistency.

So using this tofu I made a quick meal for myself using some vermicelli noodles I found in my cupboard and some basic ingredients to make a sweet chili sauce. Of course, served with whatever greens you have on hand. I used spinach for this one. This recipe makes 2-3 servings. Easy to half if you just want a meal for one.

Sweet Chili Tofu on Vermicelli and Greens
*Takes about 30 minutes if Tofu isn't done in advance

  • One block of tofu, sliced and cooked as above


  • Juice of one lime and half of the zest
  • 2 Tbsp Soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Mirin or water
  • 3 Tbsp sugar or agave (I used brown sugar)
  • 1/2 tsp red chili flakes
  • 1 clove of garlic (I didn't use, but threw a pinch of garlic powder)
  • 1/4 tsp of salt
  • 1 tsp of sesame seeds
  • 1/4 cup of basil, sliced thin
Noodles and Greens:
  • One bunch of spinach (or collards, kale, chard broccoli, etc) Chopped
  • Green onion, sliced thin
  • 1-2 Tbsp water
  • 1 pinch of salt
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  • 1 package of noodles (or cup of rice, quinoa or other grain)
  • 1 Tbsp Lime juice and the zest from the other half of the lime used above
  • 1 Tbsp Soy sauce

First get water going for the grains and cook and set aside. If you didn't make in advance, dry fry the tofu and set it aside. While the tofu is cooking, prepare the sauce by combining all the ingredients in a bowl. Once the tofu is done or the sauce is mixed, use the same pan and saute your greens and onion with the water and salt. Once cooked, add the sesame seeds.
Cooking each piece in advance and set it aside before combining it together

Adding the sauce

Remove the greens from the pan and turn the heat up to high. Add the tofu and the sauce and wait until it bubbles (about a minute). Turn of the heat and let it sit on the burner to thicken. While it is cooking down, get plating. Start with the noodles and then top with the greens and finally add the tofu with some of the sauce and serve.
In under 30 minutes and no shopping - Dinner