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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

I finally cooked with tofu chunks.

Just like the title said, I decided to try a recipe that highlighted tofu as the main character. In order to do this though, I needed to make sure the flavors in the dish were incredibly strong because the texture of tofu sort of gives me the willies.

During one of my 30 second wanderings in the grocery store (I follow a list for like 95% of the trip, then give myself a few short spurts to wander and see if anything calls out to me), I decided to buy some Thai Cock Sauce. I love spicy and this sauce is like, one of the best spicy sauces ever, and I wanted to make a Thai there. I had like 500 reason to buy it, right? Quick question though: is that Cock Sauce (is that the real name??) the same as Thai red curry paste? I assumed it was...

And then I decided to make "Spicy Thai Tofu Salad with Cherry Tomatoes and Basil" from Supermarket Vegan.

We had a few meltdowns with this one.

Matt put the tofu in the freezer.

Now I know that there is a way to defrost tofu that is even better than squeezing out all the liquid, but I couldn't remember what that was. So day after day I kept forgetting to take it out of the freezer. When I did, it took 48 hours for it to thaw in the fridge. Then I put it out on the counter for like 5 hours and there were STILL ice chunks. Not going to freeze it next time.

Also, I was lazy and bought the pre chunkified tofu. This probably cost $.50 more, but in reality made my life more difficult because it's more complicated to squeeze liquid from a whole bunch of chunks than from just one chunk.

This probably makes no sense.

I'm still sick.

The tofu was one thing, but the other thing was that I was missing key ingredients for this recipe. I didn't have any cilantro. I also didn't have any bean sprouts. Therefore, the only thing produced from this recipe was flavored tofu chunks. And not many at that. So I had to scramble and ended up making whole wheat Jasmine Rice (not as good as regular Jasmine Rice, if you were wondering...) and serving the tofu on top of that.

All in all, the sauce was awesome. This didn't make enough food. Tofu is still not my favorite texture.

Here's the recipe:


1 pound extra-firm tofu, drained
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 large garlic clove, finely chopped
Juice of 2 limes (about 1/4 cup)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 teaspoon Thai red curry paste, or to taste
4 to 6 scallions, white and green parts, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cups cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/4 to 1/2 cup chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
Bean sprouts (optional)


Place the tofu on a deep-sided plate or shallow bowl. Top with a second plate and weight with a heavy can. Let stand a minimum of 15 minutes (preferably 1 hour). Drain excess water. Cut the tofu into 3/4-inch cubes and season with salt and pepper.

In a wok or a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook, stirring often, until crispy and golden, 5 to 7 minutes, adding the garlic the last minute or so of cooking. Remove from heat and let cool slightly.

In a medium bowl, stir together the lime juice, remaining 1 tablespoon oil, brown sugar, curry paste, salt, and pepper. Let stand a few minutes to allow the sugar to dissolve. Stir in the scallions and let stand another few minutes to allow the flavors to blend. Add the warm tofu mixture and toss well to combine. Let cool to room temperature. Add the remaining ingredients, except the bean sprouts, and toss well to combine. Serve at room temperature over the bean sprouts (if using), or cover and refrigerate a minumum of 2 hours or up to 1 day and serve chilled, or return to room temperature.


  1. Have you thought about seeking out a vegan Pad Thai recipe? That uses tofu chunks as well (and also involves pressing out excess water...), and I'm pretty sure that Pad Thai was the first dish that ever turned me on to liking tofu.

    As far as there a difference for you between the texture of un-pressed (is that the right term?) tofu and the chewier pressed tofu? Just curious.

  2. @Melissa - I really have not tried many tofu recipes, so I'm open to anything. I LOVE pad thai, so if you have a good recipe, please send it my way! In terms of texture, I guess I didn't know there was a difference. Do you have a preference?

  3. haha, sounds like an adventure with tofu!
    If you freeze tofu, it changes the texture (for the better I think). Just drain it and squeeze it out first and it'll be way easier. I'm also not a huge fans of chunks of tofu in my cooking. I highly recommend you check out the General Tao or Tso's stir fry on vegweb. The tofu is stirfried with a coating of flour and cornstarch and really makes a great difference...and the sauce is yummy :)


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