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Debra Caffrey is the Education E-newsletter Editor for FredParent. She also writes, blogs, and assists with events. She is the proud mom of 8-year-old Aidan. She is passionate about cooking, meal planning, and smart grocery shopping, and is excited to share her ‘Practical Pantry’ with you.

 

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Practical Pantry

Though I’ll cook anything, I personally don’t enjoy red meat. In fact, I can actually be a pretty selective eater. As a chicken-only-ivore, it’s important for me to incorporate other sources of protein into my diet. When I was younger, I was terrible at this, relying mostly on pasta to get me through the week! As time has gone on, I’ve become much better at making sure my diet is more comprehensive to include lots of great protein choices besides chicken. Luckily, I love beans, nuts, and other protein-high sources like peas and chia seeds. And....don’t think I’m crazy, but I absolutely, whole-heartedly adore tofu!

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Hear me out! The stereotype is that tofu is gross, tasteless, slimy, and disgusting. But stereotypes are usually not accurate, right? Tofu may only come across that way because its “baseline” looking appearance is begging for manipulation, and if cooked with knowledge and love, it can transform into some of the most delicious flavors you’ve ever had. I’m serious! Tofu is not something to fear, but rather an ingredient that lends itself to lots of creativity. It’s super healthy; a wonderful source of protein and iron, and it’s super affordable!

Tofu can be used in a variety of ways, especially as a meat alternative, but my personal opinion is that it is best in Asian dishes. The flavors of Asian cuisine – garlic, ginger, miso, soy, teriyaki, Sriracha (all my favorite tastes!) – fit tofu like a glove. It can take on these intense ingredients flawlessly and the possibilities are endless when it comes to stir frys and other Asian preparations.

My two secrets for making sure tofu does NOT become a victim to its yucky stereotype are: a) it needs to be pressed in advance to squeeze the wateriness out and b) it should be lightly tossed in cornstarch before cooking on a high temperature. Both techniques (read on to see how to do them) will ensure that the tofu is not mushy or gross at all, but rather firm, crispy, and ready to mingle with all the delicious flavors you introduce!

If you love Asian flavors as much as me, I challenge you to try this recipe and give tofu a chance. You might find yourself making it again and again!

 

Crispy Tofu in Sweet Chili Sauce


Ingredients:
• 1 pkg. extra-firm tofu, drained
• Approx. 5 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
• 3 tablespoons rice vinegar
• 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce
• 2 teaspoons grated peeled ginger
• 3 garlic cloves, pressed
• 2 cups bok choy, chopped
• 1 cup broccoli, cut into small florets
• 1/2 cup cornstarch
• ½ cup flour
• 2 1/2 tablespoons sesame oil
• Toasted sesame seeds, optional
• Sliced green onions, optional

1) Cut tofu into cubes no larger than 1” and lay on top of a paper-towel lined plate. Cover with extra paper towels. Place the heaviest pan you have on top and let the tofu drain for awhile (I do this in the morning and stick it in the fridge). The paper towels should be soaked through.

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2) Combine chili sauce, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic in a bowl, mixing thoroughly.


3) Combine flour and cornstarch. Toss tofu cubes in this mixture, shaking off excess.

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4) Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat (I flip over the one that was pressing the tofu and use it!). Add half of oil to pan, then fry tofu on all sides until slightly crispy and browned. Remove tofu and set aside. Add remaining oil and stir fry broccoli and bok choy until crispy-tender. Return tofu to pan; cook 1 minute. Add sauce and toss everything together.

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5) Serve tofu mixture atop jasmine rice and top with sesame seeds and green onions, if desired.

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Enjoy! 

 

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