Ok, let's talk tofu. I know some people turn their noses up at tofu, mainly because it's a very bland protein that could easily be replaced with something more flavourful. I've had my fair share of boring tofu dishes, so believe me when I say that I know where all the hate comes from. However, because of its blandness, tofu is a blank slate with the potential to become an incredibly delicious addition to any dish. All it needs is a little help.
This recipe is total game-changer because of two main things: (1) an incredible texture is created by crumbling and frying the tofu in a bit of oil, making it super crispy while still keeping the inside tender, and (2) it is infused with this really flavourful sauce that packs a punch. Spicy, gingery, garlicky and slightly sweet, this crispy ginger tofu is bound to have even meat-eaters convinced that tofu can be delicious.
Achieving the right texture is easy but does require a few crucial steps. It's important to squeeze out most of the moisture that is in the block of tofu by wrapping it in a clean kitchen towel and placing it under something heavy (like a cast iron pan) for about 20 minutes. Once the tofu is pressed, it can be crumbled into irregular, bite-sized pieces, anywhere from 1/4" to 1/2" in diameter. Crumbling the tofu creates more surface area than you would have with cubes or strips. Once the crumbles hit the hot oil, they crisp up really nicely.
This dish is super easy to make and comes together fairly quickly. Serve this with rice noodles, along with salted cucumbers, finely sliced red peppers, mixed baby greens and cilantro and you've got yourself one delicious meal.
CRISPY GINGER TOFU NOODLE BOWLS
Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 10 minutes Servings: 2
For the sauce:
1/4 cup soy sauce (or tamari if gluten-free)
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/2 tablespoon raw sugar
1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
Juice of 1 lime
1.5" piece of ginger
For the bowl:
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
175g of tofu (half of a 350g brick)
3 scallions, thinly sliced into rounds
2 servings of rice noodles (the brand I used turned out to be 110g dried)
4 cups of mixed baby greens
1/2 cup of thinly sliced red peppers (about a quarter of a large red pepper)
1/2 cup of thinly sliced cucumbers (about a quarter of an english cucumber)
Salt to taste
Cilantro & lime wedges for serving
1. Wrap the brick of tofu in a kitchen towel and place under something heavy (like a cast iron pan) for 20 minutes while you prep the rest of the ingredients.
2. Bring a large pot filled with water to a boil and cook your noodles according to the directions on the packet. Usually, rice noodles cook super quickly and if they overcook can turn into mush. I like to cook them first so that I can keep an eye on them to make sure this doesn't happen. Once they are cooked, drain and rinse them under cold water to get rid of any excess starch, place them back in the pot and set aside. I like to toss them in a bit of oil to prevent them from sticking.
3. To make the sauce, combine the soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, hoisin, sesame oil, raw sugar, rice vinegar and lime juice in a bowl or a large measuring cup. Using a knife, remove the skin from the ginger and grate finely using a microplane into the bowl with the sauce. Mix well to incorporate.
4. Slice the cucumber as thinly as possible. Place them in a bowl and season with salt, massaging the cucumbers lightly to make sure every piece is evenly coated. This will draw out some of their moisture and soften them just a bit.
5. Slice your peppers thinly and set aside.
6. At this point, your tofu should be dry enough to work with. Crumble the tofu into irregular, bite-sized pieces.
6. Preheat your pan over medium heat. Once the pan is hot add 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Add the tofu to the hot pan in an even layer, making sure every crumble touches the bottom of the pan. Let sit for a few minutes before flipping to make sure that you develop a really nice crust. You are looking for golden brown crumbles with a crispy outside, while keeping the inside nice and tender. Crisping up the tofu should take about 6 minutes, depending on how hot your pan is.
7. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add the scallions. Pour in about 2/3 of the sauce, reserving 1/3 to serve with the bowls. Mix well and cook until the tofu gets a bit crispy again. This should only take about 2 minutes.
8. To plate, divide the lettuce and noodles into two shallow bowls or plates. Top with crispy tofu, cucumbers and peppers. Garnish with a few sprigs of cilantro and lime wedges. Spoon over some of the reserved sauce, but be careful as it is a bit spicy. Enjoy!