Seared Tofu With Green Beans

3 years ago

seared tofu sweet soy glaze-2

This is one of those weeknight dishes that can be presented as opulent and swanky but is actually as simple and humble as a Tuesday "chicken night".  It's extra firm tofu, rid of excess moisture, then quickly marinated with a sweet soy glaze, fresh garlic and ginger, and just a splash of lime and pineapple juice for a bit of acidy and sweetness.  Then to balance that tangy sweetness, we added a bit of heat via cayenne pepper, though a dash of sriracha would work just as well.   Then it's just seared in a pan with a little oil and served over a bed of sautéed greenbeans.

Basically, if you are making chicken for five people and there's one or two vegetarians that need some love, this an ideal alternative.  I will often pair this with a side of cold noodle salad or a even a simple leafy salad.

For fall, once the breeze starts to kick up and the leaves begin to tumble and the evening air brings a decided chill worthy of an oversized soft and luxurious sweater, I will add a potato dish.  --Perhaps scalloped potatoes or a baked sweet potato with chive butter.

Oh!  And, I've included many tips at the bottom of the recipe to help those that may not be familiar with all of the ingredients.

Seared Tofu with Green Beans

Sweet and spicy marinated tofu with garlic, ginger, pineapple and lime over a bed of green beans .  This can be dressed up to appear entirely more fancy than its humble nature.

  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 cloves of garlic, pressed or minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced or grated fresh ginger root
  • 2 teaspoons cayenne (This addition makes the dish HOT AND SPICY so add less or more to suit your tastes)
  • 2 tablespoons naturally sweetened pineapple juice
  • the juice from one lime
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1 package extra firm tofu, drained of all excess water
  • 1-2 tablespoons canola oil (or another high smoke point oil that your prefer )
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
  • 1 pound trimmed fresh green beans (that's about 4 cups for those wondering)
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
  • toasted sesame oil (optional, yes, but recommended) for serving
  • three tablespoons sliced scallions (whites and greens mixed) for garnish
  • Serves: 4
  • Preparation time: about 30 minutes (mostly just to marinate, so it's hands-free downtime)
  • Cook time: ten minutes
  • You will need: Large plastic zipper bag and a nonstick pan.
  1. In a large plastic zipper bag, combine brown sugar, soy sauce, garlic, ginger, cayenne, pineapple juice and lime juice and zest.   Slice the prepared tofu and add to the bag.  Remove air from the bag and massage the marinade into the tofu until evenly coated.
  2. Leave marinating tofu alone for fifteen minutes to an hour, at room temperature.
  3. In a nonstick pan over high heat, drizzle  a tablespoon of oil and add the green beans.  Toss for five minutes or until tender, yet still crisp.  Remove from pan and place on serving dish (like a bed for the tofu slices to lay on).
  4. Drizzle one tablespoon oil in same pan over high heat and sear tofu until golden brown, or about a minute on each side.  Place tofu over the bed of green beans.
  5. Last, add the marinade from the bag directly to the hot pan.  While whisking, pour in the cornstarch and water mixture.
  6. Bring it to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the sauce until it's reduced to about 3/4 cup, or about 6 minutes.
  7. Pour sauce over the tofu and the  green beans.  Top with scallions and drizzle two teaspoons toasted sesame oil over the entire thing. Serve with a side of sriracha for those that can't get enough spice.

Tip 1 : Keep your ginger root in the freezer.  It makes it super easy to chop and will stay fresh for up to two months.

Tip 2: Think of tofu like a sponge.  If you freeze and thaw your tofu, it gives it a more firm (more chewy "meaty") texture that I personally prefer.  I don't like not chewing my food and I don't like tofu that's gelatinous.  I like it to have some oomph.  If you're pressed for time and/or paper towels (for pressing the excess water out from the tofu), you can evaporate the water within the tofu by placing it in the microwave.  Over the years I've found that the microwave is the fastest and easiest method for removing the excess water.  I put the brick of tofu in a microwave safe colander over a regular dinner plate and pop it in for three minutes on high.  You can see all the steam being cooked out as it goes. If opposed to using the microwave, you may place the drained tofu between two plates with kitchen or paper towels on either side of the tofu. Repeat with dry towels until spongelike.  Remember the more water you remove from the tofu, the more marinade (flavor) it can absorb in its place.  The marinade is what makes it delicious.

Tip 3:  Wash your lime before you zest the peel.  Also, you only want to "zest" the green part of the peel.  The white part is bitter and will not make anything delicious.

Tip 4:  Cornstarch and water is called a slurry which is the easy and fun-loving cousin of a roux, (because it thickens up sauces without a lot of effort).  HOWEVER, you must bring the sauce to a full boil after you've added the cornstarch, otherwise it will not thicken.  It's important.

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