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Tofu and Broccoli with a Chinese brown sauce

Tofu and Broccoli with a Chinese Brown Sauce

Okay, I know - I know - what you’re thinking: Who needs a stir-fry recipe? Is there a bigger vegan cliché than the stir-fry? Does the vegan movement really need more hippie-and-sprouts associations?

I hear your concerns, and I made this sprout-free just so you can save face. As to the hippie thing, sorry, but you are on your own. (By the way, I was born too late and too sarcastic to be one myself, but I love hippies!)

So why do we need a stir-fry recipe?

Because if you eat out at a Chinese restaurant, there could be oyster sauce in your dish. And if you want something like brown sauce, unless you are at an exclusively vegetarian place, it likely is made with animal-based stock. There can also be MSG and way more oil than you would like to eat. (Oh, and zucchini or whatever veggies you are not crazy about.) By rocking your own stir-fry, you get to be in the driver’s seat, my friend: dried hot peppers, low oil, no zucchini (okay, it’s that time of the summer when I am so sick of them) and so on and so on. In other words, you can make something exactly to your specifications.

For this dish, I recommend the super-firm tofu one can find these days, the kind that is refrigerated but not packed in water. If you can’t find this, I recommend pressing the water out of your tofu manually or with a handy contraption. For many who think they are not tofu fans, super-firm tofu is a revelation. In fact, if I may pat myself on the back, when I brought this dish to a potluck, a meat-eater told me that he would gladly substitute tofu for meat if it always tasted like this.

Choose whichever veggies you like and have a delightful stir-fry tonight! By the way, I use vegetable stock for most of the oil just because that is how I am rolling these days, but if you would prefer the use oil (and want a more authentic taste), go for it!

16 - 20 oz. super-firm tofu, cut into cubes or triangles

1 1/2 T. tamari (for the gluten-free) or soy sauce
1/2 T. rice vinegar
1/2 t. liquid smoke

Mix together the tamari, vinegar and liquid smoke in a small cup. This is your marinade.

In a rectangular pan or a cookie sheet with raised edges, gently mix the tofu and the marinade. Flip every 10 minutes and let marinate for 30 minutes or so.

Meanwhile, prepare your brown sauce with the following three ingredients.

1 cup low-sodium vegetable stock
1 T. tamari or soy sauce
1 T. cornstarch

Warm a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add:

2 t. toasted sesame or plain sesame oil

Warm the oil for 30 seconds and then add...

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 t. fresh ginger, minced

Stir frequently so the garlic doesn’t burn. Cook for two - three minutes, then add the brown sauce. Cook over medium-low heat until thickened, 8 - 10 minutes, stirring frequently. It should be at a low boil, with the bubbles taking a while to pop. Do not let this get too hot or boil.

In a wok or large skiller, heat...

2 t. sesame oil

Over medium heat for 30 seconds or so, swishing or using a brush to coat the pan. Add the tofu and any extra marinade, and increase the temperature to medium-high; cook the tofu, tossing gently with a spatula, until lightly browned, about 8 - 10 minutes. Remove from the pan. You can put this back in the pan you used for marinading it.

Low-sodium vegetable stock
4 scallions, minced
1 bunch broccoli, sliced into florets
16 oz. snow peas

Turn the skillet up to medium. Add about two tablespoons of vegetable stock and the scallions. Cook for two minutes; add the broccoli and add more stock as needed by the tablespoon. Cook until it starts turning bright green, about 5 - 6 minutes. Add more stock by the tablespoon and add the snow peas. Cook for 3 - 4 minutes, until still crunchy but softened.

Add the tofu and brown sauce; lower the temperature to low and gently stir together until everything is incorporated.

Serve over rice with toasted peanuts or sesame seeds as a garnish, tamari and chile sauce on the side.


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