This Hot and Sour Tofu recipe is similar to a braise or a stir fry, in which tofu and mixed vegetables cook in a delicious hot an hour sauce. The hot and sour flavors in this tofu dish elude to hot and sour soup.
What is tofu?
I didn't grow up eating tofu. We ate a lot of meat for protein, and not much tofu, if any. For this reason maybe, tofu has always been a little mysterious to me. It wasn't until recently that I learned how much I like it. Tofu is bean curd, and it comes in many textures and with varying degrees of firmness.
Health Benefits of Bean Curd (tofu)
Since cholesterol comes from animal fat, most plant-based foods like tofu are cholesterol-free. Tofu is also high in protein. Just 3 ounces of tofu contains 7g of protein.
Preparing the tofu for your Hot and Sour Tofu
Tofu benefits from being pressed between kitchen towels prior to cooking in order to release its liquid and sear nicely. This step is really easy and pretty fun too, so don't let it deter you from making tofu. You can just leave it in the towel while you prepeare your vegetables.
The first time I made tofu I used Bon Appetit's recipe for Spicy Braised Tofu. I loved that this recipe was for braising, one of my favorite and most-used cooking methods. I wrote a recipe for a wine-braised pork tenderloin, which further explains the technique of braising.
Although fried tofu is delicious, I don't like to eat too many fried foods, not because it's less healthy, but because it's more time consuming. Cleaning up oil splatter around a stove burner is the worst, and discarding frying oil is the second worst.
Luckily, I love braised tofu. Remember, the two primary steps of braising are:
1) Sear the [tofu]
2) Simmer it in liquid.
Hot and Sour Tofu Flavors
Tofu's neutral taste makes it an excellent canvas for bold flavors, such as the flavors in hot and sour sauce. The main heat elements of the sauce are hot peppers and gochujang. I find jalapeños and Fresnos to be the most easily accessible hot peppers, but Serranos would be excellent and make the dish even spicier.
The main sour elements of the hot and sour sauce are lime juice and rice vinegar, though gochujang is also a bit sour from being a fermented chili paste. Miso paste and soy sauce add additional salty, umami flavors, making for an incredibly flavorful, hearty vegetarian dish.
How to Make Hot and Sour Tofu
- Make rice.
- Dry out the tofu (wrap in towels and press out the water)
- Make the hot and sour braising liquid
- Cut tofu into chunks
- Sear the tofu on both sides.
- Replace the tofu with the vegetables and sauté them
- Deglaze the pan with the hot and sour sauce.
- Stir the tofu back in, along with the and scallion greens.
Serve over rice topped with fresh herbs.
A delightful hot and sour sauce makes tofu an exciting vegetarian dish.
- 1 Block of firm or extra firm tofu
- 1 cup of sliced baby Bella and/or shiitake mushrooms
- ½ cup of sliced carrots
- 2 jalapeno peppers, sliced
- 2 scallions, sliced, whites and green separated
- 1.5 Tb gochujang
- 1.5 Tb white miso paste
- The juice of 1 lime
- ½ Tb soy sauce
- 1Tb rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sake
- Olive oil and sesame oil, for sautéing
- Salt, pepper, black garlic if you have it.
- Chopped herbs such as cilantro, basil, or mint
- Rice for serving
- Wrap the block of tofu in a kitchen towel and place a heavy pan over it for approximately 10 minutes.
- While your tofu's liquid is being extracted, prepare your vegetables as stated above.
- Make your simmering liquid by combining the gochujang, lime juice, rice vinegar, miso paste, soy sauce, and sake, if using, with ½ cup of water. Set it aside.
- Cut tofu twice length wise, so you have 3 thin, flat slabs of tofu. Then cut them 3 times crosswise in both directions to make cubes.
- Heat 2Tb olive oil and a drop of sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once hot, arrange tofu in an even layer in the pan. Cook for at least 2 minutes undisturbed, or until the bottom of the tofu becomes lightly browned. Flip each piece, season with salt, pepper and a sprinkle of black garlic if using, and cook for 1-2 minutes on the second side. Remove from pan and place on a plate to the side.
- Add more olive oil to the pan if most of it was soaked up by the tofu and add the carrots and scallion whites. Sauté for 3 minutes until carrots start to soften.
- Add the mushrooms and peppers and sauté for 3 minutes longer, until mushrooms start to soften and take on color as well. Add the hot and sour sauce and allow it to deglaze the pan for about 1 minute. Then stir in the tofu and scallion greens. Cook until most of the liquid has reduced and the tofu and vegetables are coated in sauce.
- Serve over rice topped with fresh herbs.
Keywords: hot and sour tofu