My First Time Cooking with Tofu
I have not had the best relationship with tofu. My first experience with it was very poorly seasoned/marinated tofu at a Thai restaurant in Alexandria, VA. In my defense, I do not think I was as adventurous of an eater as I am now. But, I hated everything about it to the point where I found it hard to swallow. About a year ago, I went to a Mexican restaurant in Morgantown, WV which covered their tofu in a honey marinade and when put in a burrito, it was so good. I also enjoy miso soup. Tofu in that is pretty unassuming.
But for the first time, I attempted cooking tofu to see if there was any way I could incorporate this vegetarian staple into my diet. Why not experiment and diversify your menu?
I found cooking tofu to be initially overwhelming. I read you needed to press tofu in order for it to have the right consistency, eliminate excess water, and achieve the right texture (okay, this isn't that hard, but I'm lazy and it takes time). I heard there were numerous varieties of firmness which depended on what you could cook with it—and all of this depends on brand—and so on and so on. Long story short, I felt the learning curve for cooking tofu was pretty steep. So, I decided to educate myself with Cheap Lazy Vegan. I have cooked several of her recipes before (including a peanut sauce rice vermicelli which I love), and with her name being Cheap Lazy Vegan, I knew she would speak to me the way I needed to be taught.
After learning about everything I needed to know, wrapped up nicely with a bow from this video, I set out to cook my dish: hoisin glazed tofu with pan-fried asparagus and rice.
I first drained the tub of tofu and cut the large block into 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch slices—the feeling of cutting into tofu is really satisfying and easy! After this, it was time to put them on the pan, where I seasoned each side with salt and pepper and fried them for about 5 minutes on each side until a light brown. This process naturally got rid of any excess water in the tofu.
While this was happening, I prepared my hoisin glaze. With two teaspoons of hoisin sauce, I added honey, rice vinegar, ground ginger, and toasted sesame oil in varying amounts until I got the taste I wanted. If it was too thick, I added some water to thin it out. Once the tofu was cooked on both sides, I turned the heat down on the stove and poured in the mixture, tossing the tofu simultaneously until coated, taking care to not let any piece set for too long because the hoisin mixture caramelizes rather quickly. Once I put this on a separate plate, I quickly pan-fried some asparagus, seasoning with salt, pepper, and red pepper flakes until al dente. Which the asparagus was cooking, I prepared the rice.
The final result proved to me that I could look pretentious when taking photos of food. Also, plating for presentation is hard.
The result was a well-balanced meal. Because I prepped so much at once, I was able to take it to work for the next 4 days. For the rest of the week, I hardly had to worry about what I was eating because I already had a semi-healthy, well portioned meal to go. I often find spending time in the kitchen to be high stress and full of messes and mistakes. But, this was such an easy-breezy experience for me, it made me excited to get cooking again. I still have a lot to learn about cooking as a whole, but with this being so rewarding and out of my comfort zone, it has motivated me a great deal!
Thanks for reading! Cheers.