Tofu has been much maligned recently (and not too recently), but I think it gets a bad wrap. For one thing, if you know how to cook it properly, it’s delicious. For another, as long as you’re not eating it every night (which we certainly don’t), I don’t personally think there’s any reason to get all worked up about phytoestrogens and such. Soy in moderation is a fine thing. In fact, most things in moderation are fine things.
I have a new favorite weeknight meal! And yes, it involves tofu. For a change, though, it’s a super-easy preparation that involves no pressing and can be pulled off with almost no effort — just a trusty timer and a lidded saute pan. What’s more, I think this may be my favorite way to eat tofu yet — it’s crunchy and caramelized on the outside, but retains a softer texture on the inside. Combine that with a tasty Asian-inspired sauce (Olives for Dinner’s Everything Sauce, which I now want to put on pretty much, well, everything), some greens and delicious ramen, and you have a tasty, quick, easy and cheap weeknight meal.
What’s not to love?
- 1 package firm tofu
- 1 Tbsp sesame oil
- 2 Tbsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 Tbsp fresh ginger, grated or minced
- 1 Tbsp garlic, minced
- ⅔ cup vegetable broth
- 2 Tbsp soy sauce (I prefer Tamari)
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 1 Tbsp brown sugar
- 2 packages ramen noodles, flavor packets discarded
- 1½ tsp cornstarch, dissolved in 2 Tbsp cold water
- 4 cups of fresh baby kale (or other green of your choice), any large stems removed
- sesame seeds
- handful of raw cashews, roughly chopped
- Drain the tofu (no need to press it) and place it on a cutting board. Cut into 4 thick slices, and then cut in half cross-wise, making a total of 8 slices.
- Heat the sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tofu slices, using tongs and plenty of care, as the pan will sputter, fanning them out in a single lawyer around the pan. Cover and allow to cook undisturbed for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to boil for the noodles and cook them according to package directions. Drain and rinse with cold water.
- Make the sauce. Combine the toasted sesame oil, ginger, garlic, broth, soy sauce, rice vinegar and brown sugar in a small bowl, whisk together and set aside.
- When the initial tofu cooking time is up, remove the lid from the pan (lift straight up to minimize dripping into the pan and more sputtering) and flip the tofu slices using tongs. They should be well caramelized on one side. Replace the lid and continue cooking for another 3 minutes.
- Remove the lid (again, lift straight up) and check for the desired degree of caramelization on each side. Continue cooking until well caramelized on both sides, and then remove to a plate and set aside while you continue preparing the meal.
- Add the kale to the same pan, still over medium-high heat, and saute until wilted. Be careful, as more sputtering may occur.
- While the kale cooks, divide the ramen noodles between 3 or 4 bowls (depending on how hungry you are and how many diners you have). Once the kale its wilted, divide it between the bowls.
- Add the sauce mixture to the same pan, still over medium-high heat, and heat until bubbling. Add the dissolved cornstarch and stir until thickened. Toss in the tofu pieces and stir and toss until well coated with the sauce. Divide the tofu and sauce between the bowls.
- Top each bowl with cashews, a sprinkle of sesame seeds and Sriracha to taste. Enjoy!