First, I’d like to emphasize that this is not a cooking blog. This is a blog where we sometimes talk about cooking. That way, I can feel comfortable displaying pictures of ingredients where the Soy Sauce label has been torn off and say things like “The Spinach said not to use it after Feb 1, but I’m sure it’s fine.” So now that the disclaimer is out of the way, let’s talk about vegetarians.
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To my complete amazement, all three of my children have, for various reasons, adopted a vegetarian or vegan diet. My 18-year old daughter, currently the only child living at home, has been a vegetarian for most of 2014 and briefly flirted with veganism at the beginning of 2015 before relaxing a bit into a more traditional vegetarianism at the beginning of February.
I want to keep up my meat-eating ways and even if I didn’t I really could never change my husband, but I also want to support my daughter in her choices and I’m always on a quest for delicious, healthy meals we can can share together and so Charlotte and I tried out Mongolian Tofu from the Jey of Cooking. (Thanks to the wonders of the interconnected Internet, I found this recipe through the ever-awesome Dinner, A Love Story so now you have at least three takes on the same recipe you can check out.)
I picked this recipe because I thought it might be a nice replacement for Mongolian Beef, Charlotte’s former favorite go-to Chinese takeout. Now, when we order Chinese food, she sighs, stares at the menu for a long time and finally settles on lo mein or fried rice. I’d like to make the experience of ordering Chinese food a happy one for Charlotte again.
1 Block Extra Firm Tofu, pressed and cubed
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
2 tsp. Sesame Oil (or Olive Oil)
1/2 tsp. Fresh Ginger, grated
3 Cloves Garlic, minced
1/2 Cup Low Sodium Soy Sauce
1/2 Cup Water
1/2 Cup Brown Sugar
1 Green Onion, chopped
Heat oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
Add the cornstarch to the tofu in a small bowl and toss to coat.
Add the tofu to the skillet and cook until browned on all sides, about 6 minutes.
While the tofu is cooking, combine the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, water and brown sugar. Mix well.
When tofu has browned, add the sauce, stir, then bring to a simmer before reducing heat to low. Simmer for 5-10 minutes, until sauce has thickened and reduced.
Serve over rice and garnish with green onion.
Recipe credit: Jey of Cooking
We realized too late that pressed and cubed means to cover the tofu with paper towels and press the water out of it by putting a skillet or other heavy item on top for 30 minutes or so. (FYI, the recipe explicitly says this. When I say “realized”, I mean “finally read”.)
By the time we realized this, we were already at the sauce-making stage so we just quickly pressed the water out while we made the sauce and we used a bit cornstarch. I’m not going to lie, the recipe would have been better if we’d done it correctly.
There was another small bump when we realized we had put the ingredients for the rice into the rice cooker, but had not, in fact, turned it on. We just put the Tofu on top of the salad and it was damn good, if I say so myself. When I asked Charlotte if she would have this instead of Mongolian Beef and be satisfied, she said, “Is this supposed to replace that? It tastes nothing like that!” So, the quest to find a vegetarian dish that will bring back Charlotte’s joy for Chinese take-out continues, but I still consider the evening a success.