Spicy Veg Stir-Fry with Baked Tofu

If you have unnecessary psychological hang-ups about tofu, then this recipe is an excellent ease into a love of plant-based protein sources. Cooking with a wok is super fast, easy, and produces an unmatchable veggie flavor (because you cook the veggies so quickly, they keep all their crunch without any of the raw-flavor edge).  The ingredients listed below are for the stir-fry I happened to make tonight.  This dish is extremely customizable (really, the only constants are the ingredients in the sauce recipe), and is therefore, very market friendly.  I usually make stir-fry at least twice a month, and I have yet to get tired of it because it’s different every time!  You’ll see the veggies I happened to use tonight listed below, but there isn’t a set of rules about what can or cannot be included in this dish – be brave and experiment a little!  Step outside of the take-out container and invite any seasonal, local veggies into your Asian-inspired kitchen! 😀

Spicy Veggie Stir-Fry with Baked Tofu:

Spicy Veggie Stir-Fry with Baked Tofu, Quinoa, and Brown Rice

Equipment:

  • Wok, wooden spoon or silicone spatula, knife, cutting board, fork or whisk, small bowl, large sauce pan, cookie sheet, Silpat or aluminum foil, two plates and paper towels or a cheese cloth, stove-top, oven

Ingredients:

For the Sauce

  • Soy sauce or Tamari (I personally use Liquid Aminos as a chemical-free substitute)
  • Raw, unprocessed honey (regular honey is ok too, but raw gives a sweeter and richer taste)
  • The juice of 1 lime
  • At least 1/4 tsp ground chillies (not “Chili powder” – I use the ground chillies I got from an Southeast Asian/Indian Foods store)
  • As much Sriracha (chile, garlic sauce) as you can handle
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 yellow onion, diced
  • Cilantro (optional)

For the Rice

  • 4 cups vegetable stock, with 1/2 cup set aside
  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 cup white and red quinoa

OR

  • Udon, Buckwheat Soba, or Pad Thai noodles (whatever you’ve got/can find cheap), prepared as directed

Veggies (listed as pictured)

  • 8 small spring onions, slivered
  • 1 yellow squash, halved and sliced
  • 1 zucchini, halved and sliced
  • 1 large head broccoli, cut into large florets
  • 1 pt snow peas, de-strung and trimmed
  • 2 tomatoes, cut into wedges

For a generic Baked Tofu

  • 1 brick of medium-firm tofu
  • Soy sauce or tamari
  • Lemon pepper
  • Dried Basil
  • Dried parsley
  • Garlic powder

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 450 F.  If you’re using quinoa as your grain (pictured above mixed with brown rice), put it in a bowl and cover it with warm water.  Let it sit 15 mins to soften the outside of the seeds, so it won’t be bitter later.
  2. Unwrap the tofu and drain it.  Wrap the tofu brick in paper towels or a cheese cloth.  Set the tofu on a plate, cover with another plate, and put some sort of weight on top to press the tofu (I use a jar of almond paste or can of soup).  Set aside and let the tofu sit under the weight for at least 15 mins (it can sit longer if you need to run to the store for an hour – it’s not a super-sensitive food).
  3. While the tofu rests and the oven is heating up, let’s make some sauce!  Now, I never measure this sauce out, and every time I make it, it’s little different (based on what I’m feeling that night).  Chop up the garlic and onion (and a few sprigs of cilantro, if desired) and put them in a small bowl.  Add 1/4- 1/3 cup of soy sauce to the raw veg. Whisk in 1/4 tsp or more of the ground chillies (more if you enjoy lava-like levels of spice), 1 tsp or more of Sriracha sauce, and 1-2 Tbsp of honey.  Dip in your pinky and taste-test. If it’s too salty, cut it with some honey.  If it needs more tang and spice, then Sriracha it up!  Keep adjusting the sauce until it makes you smile with that “Got it!” face. 🙂 Set aside.
  4. Once the oven is hot, unwrap the tofu and set the towel aside.  Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces, and coat with a few dashes of soy sauce.  Sprinkle 2 generous dashes of garlic powder, 1 dash of lemon pepper, a pinch or 2 of dried basil, and a modest dash of dried parsley on the tofu.  Toss the tofu and spices with your hands to make sure all pieces are evenly coated.  Transfer the sliced, seasoned tofu onto a lined baking sheet.  Bake the tofu for 40 mins at 450F, turning it with a spatula half-way through.
  5. While the tofu bakes, prep your veggies and cook your rice/noodles/quinoa in the veggie stock or water.  Remove the tofu from the oven once it’s done baking.
  6. Heat your wok over medium heat.  Start with the 1/2 cup reserved veg. stock and bring to a rapid simmer in the bottom of the wok.  Add in the onions.  Stir and cook the onions about 2-4 mins, until they start to soften.
  7. Add in any veggies you want to use.  I added the zucchini and squash in first since I prefer my squash on the softer side, then the broccoli, the tomatoes, and finally the snow peas (added last because I like them to be barely heated and still have lots of crunch!).  Add the veggies one at a time and wait 30 sec to a minute in between each addition to make sure you don’t cool off the wok too much.  Otherwise, it’ll take much longer to cook, and you’ll end up steaming everything in a pile.
  8. Add the tofu to the wok, then the rice/noodles.  Stir well to make sure everything’s hot and let cook about a minute.  Add the sauce.  Stir in the sauce to make sure all of the ingredients are evenly and generously coated.  Remove the wok from the heat.
  9. ENJOY!!
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