Category Archives: tofu

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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Island Teryiaki Stir-Fry

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Island Teriyaki Stir-Fry

The first thing I want to mention in this post is that I’m officially a college graduate! Okay, maybe not quite official because I still have one more class to take this summer, but I participated in the event anyway. Two weekends ago, I graduated along with my friends and classmates from UMass Amherst. I still find it unbelievable that four years have gone by since I started college. I know I’m getting older when I start asking myself, where did the time go? While it will be a bit of a pain to commute to a nearby university to take my summer class three times a week, it’s still somewhat of a  relief to me to have some free time before I jump right into my career. It also gives me some more time to actually figure out exactly what I want to do, because anybody who knows me well knows that I’m an incredibly indecisive person and am still in the process of pondering my future career.

The second thing I want to mention is that I recently had a photo of mine featured on Foodgawker for the first time! I logged onto WordPress a couple of weeks ago, not expecting anything exciting, when I saw that I suddenly had 1,000 more views than last time I checked a couple days earlier. I looked at Foodgawker to see if my most recent submission had been accepted, and sure enough, it had. With the craziness of graduation weekend approaching, I had almost forgotten I even submitted it. I remember telling my roommate Emily a few months ago that my goal was to have a photo featured on Foodgawker, not really believing it would happen any time soon. I realize many food bloggers have their recipes featured on Foodgawker all the time, but being new to the food blogging world, this is an exciting accomplishment for me 🙂 Click here if you want to see my submission on Foodgawker.

The week before I graduated, my brother Chris visited along with Mirva and Naomi. It was really nice to have them visit me in Amherst, and also to see my niece again. We had lunch at this awesome barbeque place near me called Bub’s BBQ (if you’re ever in the area, you have to try it out) and then I took them to a nearby waterfall. These photos are straight out of my camera, so I apologize for the dark and bleh colors.

cute little Naomi

Chris, Mirva, and Naomi

The waterfall

Mirva and Naomi

all bundled up

their dog Lily racing around

Onto the food: I’m a big fan of Asian food, particularly Chinese, Japanese, and Thai. My favorite meal that my mother makes is a simple stir-fry with chicken and lots of veggies over rice. I wanted to take that and give it an Asian twist. I recently found a stir-fry sauce I really love from Trader Joe’s called Island Soyaki Sauce. Stop and Shop carries a similar teriyaki sauce called Soy Vay Island Teriyaki Sauce, which is what I used for this recipe. I love these sauces because they have that classic salty and spicy teryiaki taste, with a hint of pineapple and honey.

Traditional Chinese stir-fry is prepared in a large, round-bottomed pan called a wok and the technique is similar to sautéing. My dad bought a wok when I was younger and used to love to cook us stir-fry using it. I don’t own a wok, so I used a regular frying pan. I chose to use tofu because I actually love it (weird, I know), but I’ve cooked this recipe with chicken before and that was good, too. Steak or pork would also work nicely. To use meat, simply follow the same directions (marinating, sautéing), but note that meat takes longer to cook than tofu and it may be easier to cook it separately and add it to the veggies at the end. Marinating is optional, but it really gives the tofu or meat more flavor.

Island Teriyaki Stir-Fry

Ingredients:
serves 2-3

  • 7 oz. firm or extra firm tofu (about half a package, which are typically 14 oz.)
  • 1/2 cup Trader Joe’s Island Soyaki Sauce (or soy/teriyaki sauce of your choice – or even make your own! I like this recipe.)
  • 1 cup uncooked brown rice (I used the quick-cooking kind that only takes 10 minutes, to save time)
  • 2-3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/8 tsp minced ginger (or powder, if minced is not available)
  • half a medium white onion, diced
  • 2/3 cup chopped broccoli
  • half a red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/3 cup chopped mushrooms (I used portabella)
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • diced green onions and cilantro to garnish

veggies and tofu simmering away

add some brown rice

Directions:

  1. Slice tofu into strips and remove excess water by wrapping in a clean towel or paper towel and pressing down gently. Dice into 1-inch chunks, and place into a small plastic bag with teriyaki sauce. Toss to coat tofu evenly and place in refridgerator for 1-2 hours.
  2. When tofu is done marinating, cook brown rice according to package instructions. Cover and set aside.
  3. In a large frying pan, heat olive oil and add garlic and ginger.
  4. Add diced onions and broccoli cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then stir in diced red pepper, cooking for another couple minutes, and then mushrooms. Mushrooms generally cook quickly, while onions take longer. This method prevents your vegetables from cooking unevenly.
  5. Shortly after adding the mushrooms (2-3 minutes later), pour tofu and teriyaki sauce into pan. Make sure to get as much teriyaki sauce from the bag into the pan as possible. Add red pepper flakes.
  6. Cook for another 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cooked brown rice and cook for another 2 minutes. Garnish with green onions and cilantro and serve.

🙂