"How's the tofu?" I ask as I sit down across from the 6-year-old.
"It's...(throws his head back for emphasis, and then more breathes than says)...aaawe.some (while slowly nodding his head forward)."
With that sort of review, I thought I better get back in the saddle, and share this recipe adapted from the latest issue of Bon Appetit.
Digging into my second bite, I hear the boy's plate scootch across the table to me. With his mouth still full of rice, he asks for seconds. When I bring the plate back full again with rice and tofu and simple roasted broccoli, he asks if he can have more once he finishes that. He did too.
makes: 4 sevings (allowing for quite a bit of self control and side dishes)
takes: 45 minutes (about 10 active)
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 19 ounces firm tofu
- 8 garlic cloves, smashed, peeled, chopped
- 1/3 cup (packed) brown sugar
- 1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon grated ginger
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced (or chives if that's what you already have in your garden)
Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Slice tofu about 1/4 inch thick. Pat slices dry, swirl the hot oil around in the pan, and carefully arrange the tofu in a single layer. You'll probably need to do this in two batches. Fry on each side until golden and crisp, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add the garlic to the pan, and cook, stirring often, until golden, about 1 minute. Scrape the garlic onto the tofu.
Return the pan to heat, add 1/2 cup water, scraping up browned bits. Add brown sugar, stir to dissolve, and cook stirring often until you have a rich brown syrup, about 4 minutes. Carefully stir in the vinegar. If the sugar crystalizes, keep stirring over the heat to dissolve it again.
Stir in the ginger, broth, and soy sauce. Add the tofu and garlic back to the pan. Swirl to coat with sauce. Bring to a boil, turn the heat down to a simmer, and cook until the sauce is syrupy thick, about 20 minutes. (Which is just about the amount of time broccoli needs to get some charred bits in a 450 degree oven, if you're looking for a tofu accompaniment.) If you have an old stove like me, move the tofu around occasionally to evenly distribute the sauce and make up for the hot spots.
Top with scallions or chives, and serve with rice and broccoli.