Monday, February 3, 2014

Easy Tofu and Broccoli Stir Fry

Chinese New Year started on Friday, and I married into a Chinese family, so of course we are having fun eating our traditional foods like noodles for long life and a whole fish for prosperity. Even if you aren't celebrating Chinese New Year, stir fries are a great way to eat more vegetables. You can stir fry almost any vegetable and lean protein together. I have a beautifully seasoned wok now, but for years I made my stir fries in a regular skillet. As long as you can cook quickly, over high heat, you can make delicious stir fries at home. The great thing about stir fries is that they are endlessly customizable. You can do any combination of veggies and protein. 

The trick to a good stir fry is to cook everything very fast. You need to chop everything in small, even pieces, get your pan extremely hot and just keep it moving. Stir fries are the only thing where I make sure all my vegetables are chopped before I turn on the stove, Usually, I chop as I go. If you try that while stir frying, something will burn. So make it easy on yourself and chop everything first. You can even cook your rice before getting started. It's one less thing to worry about.

For a tough, woody vegetable like broccoli, it needs more than just touching the wok to cook through. I always give it a quick stir fry to brown it, then blanch it very quickly in the wok before cooking anything else. The tofu needs some prep work too. It needs to be pressed and drained before cooking and I like to give it a swirl of soy sauce and sesame oil before cooking.

Tofu and Broccoli Stir Fry

2 crowns brocoli, separated into florets
2 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small onion, cut into strips
1 block tofu, rinsed, drained and cubed (I like to marinade mine with one tablespoon soy sauce and one teaspoon sesame seed oil. It adds flavor to the tofu and it keeps it from sticking.)
1/2 teaspoon of ginger, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 teaspoon cornstarch

Get your skillet or wok extremely hot. I test mine by flicking drops of water at it. If it sizzles immediately, its good. Give it a good glug of canola oil, or something else that can take the heat and swirl pan to ensure coverage. Add broccoli to pan and move it around to keep it from burning. Add about a quarter cup of water, then cover with a tight fitting lid. Let broccoli cook until bright green and tender, about three minutes. Remove immediately and rinse out wok. Heat it back up, add more oil.
Add carrots and onion, stir it around for about a minute. Add tofu, continue to stir. Add minced garlic and ginger, then add broccoli back to the wok. Stir it again. Combine cornstarch with enough water to make a slurry, plus the leftover soy sauce. Add to wok, stir to make sure vegetables and tofu are covered. Serve immediately.

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