Mongolian Tofu

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I’ve decided to go 3 for 3 on the quick and easy meals route and finish this week off with a wonderfully delicious tofu dish. On the hit or miss scale of things, tofu has generally always been on my ‘miss’ list.  The only kind I’ve consistently liked is the soft kind that goes in mapo tofu, a Szechuan dish that my friend L introduced me to.  So, not only was this my first time cooking tofu, but it was also the first time I’ve decided I liked it.  Why did I decide to cook something that I thought I didn’t like, you ask?  For science!  Just kidding.  Really, it’s because, every once in a while, I take stock of how my tastes have changed, and I decided it was time to give it another try (and that, my friends, is How I Met Brussel Sprouts).

If I’m being honest, though, I have to admit that the real star of this dish is the sauce. The tofu is great and all, particularly since it’s so quick-cooking and gives you 2/3 the protein of a similar amount of chicken for almost half the caloric intake, but the sauce. Oh, the sauce.

I’m not 100% sure that there’s actually any Mongolian component to it, but what I do know is that it’s tangy, salty, sweet, and the kind of thing that goes great on everything. In fact, Mr. Little Fish dumped it on his pork kabob and proclaimed that he didn’t know how he felt about tofu but he would be down for this sauce on anything.

I like to think that the modifications I made on the recipe helped contribute to the sauce’s stardom.  I swapped out the sesame oil for coconut oil for the sauteing, because certain oils are not meant to withstand the high heat of stir frying, and both sesame and olive oil are better used for garnish than for cooking since they tend to degrade and break down in the face of high temperatures.  I also added sriracha to the sauce, because, well, I don’t think I have to explain that one.  I lowered the sugar content, because I find I never need as much sugar as most recipes call for.  And lastly, I decided I wanted the flavor of the sesame oil after all, so I added back some of it at the end.  Next time I make this I would also like to saute some onions before putting in the tofu.

Mongolian Tofu
Adapted from Dinner: A Love Story
Serves 2

Ingredients:

1 block extra firm tofu  (see Step 1 for directions on preparing this ingredient)
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tsp chili sauce, like sriracha
1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced (PROTIP #1:  I keep my fresh ginger in the freezer so that it doesn’t go bad.  The upside to this is that when I grate it on my microplane, it’s not all wet and hard to work with!)
1 clove garlic, minced (PROTIP #2:  Ever notice how your knife gets really sticky when you’re mincing garlic?  Just run your knife under some water before you start mincing, and it will all slide right off!)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup brown sugar
2 green onions, chopped
Juice of 1/2 lime

Directions:

1.  At least 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking, put your blocks of tofu on a plate, cover with a stack of paper towels, and then place a heavy pan or other object on top.  This will squeeze out the water from the tofu, allowing you to make it crispier when you fry it.  Once you are ready to start cooking, cube the tofu into 1-inch-ish squares and put in a bowl.  Add the cornstarch to the tofu and toss to combine.
2.  In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, sriracha, and 1/2 cup water.  Set aside.
3.  Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a skillet or wok.  Add the tofu to the skillet and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until all sides are browned.
4.  Add the sauce to the tofu after it browns, stir, and then bring everything to a simmer.  Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce reduces.
5.  Remove from heat, and add the sesame oil and lime juice.  Stir together.
6.  Serve with veggies, rice, or as a lettuce-wrap type meal.  Garnish with the green onions, and enjoy!

Tofu lettuce wrap with carrots!

Tofu lettuce wrap with carrots!

What’s your favorite go-to weeknight meal?

Mongolian Tofu
 
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
 
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Cuisine: Asian
Serves: 2
Ingredients
  • 1 block extra firm tofu (see Step 1 for directions on preparing this ingredient)
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch
  • 2 tsp coconut oil
  • ½ tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili sauce, like sriracha
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ½ cup soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup brown sugar
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • Juice of ½ lime
Directions
  1. At least 30 minutes before you plan to start cooking, put your blocks of tofu on a plate, cover with a stack of paper towels, and then place a heavy pan or other object on top. This will squeeze out the water from the tofu, allowing you to make it crispier when you fry it. Once you are ready to start cooking, cube the tofu into 1-inch-ish squares and put in a bowl. Add the cornstarch to the tofu and toss to combine.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the ginger, garlic, soy sauce, vinegar, brown sugar, sriracha, and ½ cup water. Set aside.
  3. Heat the coconut oil over medium heat in a skillet or wok. Add the tofu to the skillet and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until all sides are browned.
  4. Add the sauce to the tofu after it browns, stir, and then bring everything to a simmer. Reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the sauce reduces.
  5. Remove from heat, and add the sesame oil and lime juice. Stir together.
  6. Serve with veggies, rice, or as a lettuce-wrap type meal. Garnish with the green onions, and enjoy!

Read 2 comments

  1. The curdling of various foodstuffs by the Asian countries presents endless opportunities for exploration. For dessert I bet you in particular might like to give “peanut tofu” a try, and probably would find the topping to go with since that seems to be your talent.
    When I was attempting vegetarianism and the vegan some 5 years ago I became particularly fond of tofu-scramble in the morning. And tofu breakfast taco. Since you’re such a breakfast aficionado I’m sure you could find a way to make those taste good too. (I didn’t quite make it.)
    And to answer your question, my favorite go-to weeknight (quick and easy) meal is champagne. When you shake up the bottle you don’t even have to bother trying to muscle off the cork when you take the wrapper off. Just hold the base (NOT under a lamp) and voilà.

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