Oh, tofu! It’s sadly one of those ingredients that has had a few bad reviews somewhere down the line and is now seen as a necessary food for vegans, rather than a delicious food that everyone can enjoy.
Admittedly, tofu can be tricky for new cooks to get to grips with, but when it’s prepared and cooked correctly, it’s an excellent addition to all manner of dishes – vegan or not.
This caramelized tofu and broccoli stir fry recipe creates a mouth-watering and flavorful dish that you’re bound to come back to time and time again. a
The Scoop on Tofu
If you’ve tried cooking tofu straight from the packet without adding any marinades or spices, you’ve no doubt ended up with some pretty bland food. Tofu is actually a really pure ingredient; it doesn’t have any recognizable taste or odor due to it being made from fresh soy milk. Its blandness, however, means it soaks up flavor like you wouldn’t believe.
Block tofu is made from the curds of soybean milk, which have been pressed into a block and then cooled – just like how traditional dairy cheese is produced. Block tofu comes in a range of densities, from soft to extra-firm, all of which should be prepared and cooked differently.
As a foodstuff, tofu is one of the most healthful that you can eat. It contains all of the essential amino acids that our bodies can’t produce, hence its popularity as a protein source on plant-based diets. It’s also gluten-free and high in calcium and antioxidants, making it ideal for anyone with food intolerances and allergies.
As mentioned above, the secret to making delicious tofu dishes is all in the preparation and cooking. That’s why this recipe calls for extra-firm tofu that’s been pressed. Pressing tofu removes all the excess moisture from the block that could prevent it from absorbing all those yummy flavors in the caramel or even make it fall apart when you stir fry it.
The simplest way to do this is by using a tofu press (see here https://tofubud.com/products/tofu-press for an example). There is a more traditional way to press tofu using paper towels and a weight, but this is more time consuming and can be quite messy.
What else is in this Stir Fry?
We’ve combined the moreishness of the caramelized tofu with broccoli, orange pepper, mushrooms, and red onion. All three of these veggies are some of the best that you can eat. Broccoli, in particular, is a fantastic source of fiber, offering 2.3g per cup, and it’s high in Vitamin C and protein too.
It’s a whole food dish, meaning that it’s vegan friendly and super healthy too.
Broccoli Stir Fry with Caramelized Tofu
To make the tofu, you will need:
- 1 x block of pressed extra firm tofu
- 1 x tbsp soy sauce
- 1 x tbsp maple syrup
- Olive oil for cooking
- 1 x diced medium onion
- 3 x chopped garlic cloves
- 1 x tbsp sesame seeds
For the Stir Fry, you will need:
- 2 ½ x pounds broccoli
- 1 x chopped medium red onion
- 1 x sliced orange bell pepper
- 2 x sliced mushroom caps
- 2 x tbsp soy sauce
- 2 x tbsp sesame oil
- 2 x tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 x tbsp mirin
- 3 x minced garlic cloves
- 2 x inch of ginger, grated
- Pinch sea salt
- Sliced green onion and sesame seeds to serve
- Heat a cast-iron pan over a medium heat. Sprinkle with olive oil and add the chopped medium onion and three garlic cloves. Cook until brown, appx. 3-5 minutes
- Add the tofu to the pan (forming a single layer) and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cook for 2 minutes per side, turning once.
- Pour in the maple syrup and soy sauce, stirring gently to ensure even coating. Cook for a further 5-8 minutes.
- Remove the tofu from the pan and arrange on a wire rack.
- Mix together the mirin, soy sauce, and rice vinegar in a small bowl
- Add the sesame oil to the pa heat over a high heat. Add the broccoli, red onion, bell pepper, and mushrooms. Cook until broccoli begins to brown on the edges (appx. 6 to 7 minutes). Stir gently throughout.
- Add the remaining garlic cloves and ginger, then cook for an additional minute.
- Turn off the heat but keep the pan on the stovetop, add in the cooked tofu and pour the mirin sauce into the mixture. Stir gently to ensure even coating.
- Garnish with sesame seeds, a pinch of salt, and green onion. Serve immediately.
The versatility of this stir fry means you have quite a few options when it comes to the final dish. Serve the full stir fry with freshly steamed quinoa or wholegrain rice for a wonderfully healthy but filling main meal. You could also eat the broccoli and tofu as a lighter meal or even eat them separately as nutritious snacks.