Before I get the normal tofu groan from my non-vegetarian readers, I’ve got to tell you something. If you’ve ever tried tofu and still don’t like it, it was most likely not prepared to the best of it’s ability. And if you haven’t tried it, this is the recipe to start with! Tofu doesn’t have to be this slimy, mushy, and flavorless food. As far as taste goes, it can taste like whatever you want it to. It’s a sponge, so if you want it to have a Jamaican Jerk flavor, by all means, marinate it in jerk sauce all day before cooking it up. As for the texture, I have definitely had my fair share of mushy soft tofu, and I’m absolutely not a fan. Most likely not all the water was pressed out of the tofu as it should have been.
So why should you eat tofu?
Tofu is extremely nutritious and has many health benefits. Just eating two grams of it daily can help your body reduce the cholesterol it absorbs by more than 10% from other unhealthy foods.
Tofu is low in fat, calories and cholesterol. It is also an excellent source of high quality protein from non-meat foods. Even if you’re not vegetarian, you could start by substituting one meat-filled meal a week with a tofu-rich meal.
Tofu is also rich in B-vitamins and contains a lot of calcium. Calcium helps in the prevention of osteoporosis – thinning of bone tissue and loss of bone density.
Tofu is also friendly to your digestive system – as it is easy to digest due to the removal of soybean’s fiber during the manufacturing process.
Most soy-foods, including tofu, helps in the reduction of cholesterol in our body. It helps maintain the level of good HDL cholesterol by lowering the levels of bad LDL cholesterol.
So are you convinced yet?
Let’s get started! The key to good tofu is pressing all the water out first. Sometimes when I buy tofu, the first place it goes is in the freezer. Freezing the tofu first gives it a tougher more meat-like texture. Then a day or two before I want to use it, I put it in the fridge to thaw. Once it is completely thawed, I dump the water from the packaged tofu and wrap it in a kitchen towel. At this point, you don’t want to squeeze the tofu too much because it’s still fragile with all that water packed inside. Place your wrapped up tofu on a cutting board, plate, or tray (basically just something you don’t mind getting damp), and top with another flat surface you don’t mind getting wet. On top of this, you can start stacking a few books or heavy cans. This will squeeze the water out evenly. You will want to let this sit for a couple hours to be sure you’ve gotten most of the water out.
Of course, if this seems too daunting, you could always buy a fancy schmancy Tofu Press (and send me one while you’re at it!).
Lots of people press their tofu differently. Some cut it up first before pressing. I don’t. This is what works for me. Do what works for you!
Welp, now that you have your tofu ready to go, let’s make something yummy!
Sweet and Sour Tofu Stir-Fry
3/4 cup Apricot Fruit Spread (I found a sugar-free version that tastes great!)
2 Tablespoons vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons garlic salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
2 medium zucchini, sliced
1 14-ounce package of tofu, drained and pressed
1/2 pound small mushrooms, sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
hot cooked brown rice
Combine apricot spread, vinegar, garlic salt, ginger, soy sauce, and crushed red pepper flakes. Stir until blended and set aside.
Cut the tofu into 8 equal slices. Cut each slice in half, and then each half diagonally into triangles.
Place the tofu in a large (at least 10-inch) non-stick skillet at medium heat. Make sure the tofu pieces are in a single layer and not overlapping. With a spatula, you will want to press the tofu down, squeezing out any additional water. The less water in the tofu, the better the texture will be. Continue to cook and press the tofu until it has browned on one side, about 10 minutes. Turn over to brown the other side.
Once the tofu is completely browned, place the tofu on a plate and add your chopped mushrooms and zucchini to the pan.
Cook for just a few minutes until the zucchini is tender-crisp. Not mushy! Mushy zucchini is just as bad as mushy tofu. Once cooked, add the tofu back in with the veggies.
Add the apricot sauce. Toss gently to mix well and heat through.
Serve with hot rice.