Caramelized Tofu Fried Rice

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This is a meal that I’ve been making some variation or another of for the past few months. I’ve always loved Chinese take-out, and one of my favorite dishes is fried rice. My family usually orders pork fried rice, which I love, but I wanted to create a slightly lighter and vegetarian-friendly version.

Over the past year or so, tofu has become almost a staple in my diet (almost… nothing can replace my chicken, though). I’ve experimented with many different ways of preparing/cooking tofu, and think I may have stumbled upon my favorite method: caramelizing it. Or in simple terms, adding a sweet, crispy crust to the outside (while maintaining a soft, moist interior). The key to caramelizing any type of food is sugar, but tofu doesn’t naturally contain sugar so it needs to be added. To do this, we simply sear the tofu in a hot pan with a sweet, sugar-based teryiaki sauce until a nice crust is created on the outside.

This recipe combines caramelized tofu, edamame, sauteed vegetables, egg, and brown rice, all dressed with a sweet and tangy sauce. The protein in the tofu and fiber in the edamame will keep you feeling satisfied while keeping your new year’s resolutions at bay. For all you tofu-haters, you could easily substitute chicken or steak and follow a similar process to caramelize it.

For this dish, I’ve also included a recipe for a sweet and tangy sauce that is similar to teriyaki sauce Most of the ingredients are pantry staples, but feel free to use a bottled teriyaki sauce if you’re not in the mood or unable to make the marinade.

P.S. Any fellow Ponzu fans out there? I LOVE this stuff. After seeing it advertised on tv, I decided to add it to my seemingly endless collection of Asian condiments and found that I like it more than regular soy sauce. It’s lighter and has a wonderful citrus flavor, and is much lower in sodium than soy sauce.

Ponzu-LIME

Caramelized Tofu Fried Rice
serves 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 tsp olive oil + 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 4 baby bella or white mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup shelled edamame
  • 8-10 oz. firm tofu (or a little more than half a 14. oz package), drained, pressed dry, and cut into cubes
  • homemade sweet and tangy sauce, divided in half (see recipe below) – or 1/2 cup of your favorite teriyaki sauce, divided
  • 2 eggs, whisked
  • 3 1/2 – 4 cups cooked brown rice

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Sweet and tangy sauce:
makes about 1/2 – 2/3 cup

  • 2 Tbsp reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 4 Tbsp Ponzu (if you don’t have Ponzu, you can use an extra Tbsp of soy sauce plus 2 Tbsp lime juice and 1 Tbsp water)
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp honey
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • optional: 1 tsp chili paste or 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes

Directions:

  1. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil and sesame oil. Add diced onion and sauté for 5 minutes. Add diced red pepper, garlic, and shredded carrot and continue to cook over medium-low heat, stirring every couple of minutes.
  2. Lightly coat a smaller frying pan with cooking spray and turn onto medium-high heat. Once the pan is hot, add tofu and “dry fry” for 2-3 minutes (this removes excess water). Add 1/4 cup sweet and tangy sauce and cook for about 3-5 minutes on each side, or until tofu has formed a nice golden crust and sauce has been absorbed. Remove from heat and set aside.
  3. To the sautéing veggies, add the edamame and mushrooms and continue to cook.
  4. In a small frying pan (I used the same one used for the tofu), scramble the eggs (the way you normally would – no fancy tricks here).
  5. Add the cooked rice, fried egg, remaining sweet and tangy sauce, and tofu to the pan with the veggies. Stir and cook for another minute or two, just until everything is hot. Serve with chopped scallions or cilantro and enjoy.
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In a large frying pan, saute onions, peppers, carrots, and garlic

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After dry-frying the tofu for a couple of minutes, add the sweet and tangy sauce and cook over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes.

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Flip the tofu and sear on the other side for an additional few minutes, until each side is golden-brown.

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Here’s how your caramelized tofu will look when it’s finished – a sweet and crispy golden crust with a soft interior. Yum!

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Meanwhile, to your veggies add the mushrooms and edamame

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Quickly scramble up your two eggs

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Once the veggies are cooked to your liking, add the eggs, rice, tofu, and sweet and tangy sauce. Stir to combine and cook just until everything is hot.

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