Baking & cooking with an enthusiastic amateur

Sesame Tofu Stir-Fry

Sesame tofu served with brown rice, garnished with green slices of scallion.

In my search for cheaper lean protein sources, tofu has come up on my radar as a viable candidate. At only $2/pound at Trader Joe’s, it’s 33% cheaper than my staple protein of chicken breast, and has the added benefit of being suitable for feeding my vegetarian friends.

I haven’t worked very much with tofu, though I intend to do so more in the future. To ease myself into it, I started with an Asian-inspired dish, since tofu, despite its plethora of applications, is traditionally used in Asian cuisine. I already know that it goes well with flavors such as soy sauce and sesame, which made it a prime candidate for a stir-fry.

To make the tofu more appealing to my roommate, who is still finds tofu’s texture and natural blandness “kind of weird”, I marinated it in the sauce I prepared. It let all the delicious flavors seep in, giving each bite a distinct but not overpowering flavor.

Finally, I was delighted to realize after finishing this meal that it is accidentally vegan. I didn’t set out to create vegan food, but I didn’t need any animal products to make this a tasty dish. I even checked the hoisin sauce just in case, and it appears to be vegan! While I don’t have any close friends who are vegan, it’s comforting to have a few vegan recipes in my repertoire, since cooking for one can be a daunting prospect for an omnivore such as myself.

Sesame tofu makes for a filling dinner with plenty of protein. Using brown rice adds some healthy fiber, though some folks may prefer to use white rice.

Sesame Tofu Stir-Fry
2 tsp sesame oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sherry
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
16 oz firm tofu, cut into bite-sized cubes
2 tsp vegetable oil
1/4 red bell pepper, chopped
1/4 sweet onion, chopped
3 carrots, peeled and cut into round slices
3 scallions, chopped and divided into green and white parts
Brown rice, prepared (optional)

Warm sesame oil in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook briefly, until garlic is just starting to brown. Add soy sauce, sherry, and hoisin sauce. Simmer for 5 minutes, stirring often. Remove from heat and mix in lemon juice and sesame seeds. Pour sauce over tofu in a sealable container; toss gently to coat all the tofu. Place in the fridge.

After one hour, heat vegetable oil in a nonstick skillet. Add the bell pepper, carrots, and onion; cook on medium heat for 4-5 minutes. Add the tofu and white parts of the scallions; cook for another 4-5 minutes.

Serve with cooked brown rice if desired. Garnish with the chopped green sections of the scallions.

Makes three servings. Cost and calories do not include brown rice.
Cost per serving: $1.73.
Calories per serving: 317. (Adding brown rice as pictured would bring the total up to about 477.)

On Tweaking:

  • I made this dish with the last quarters of an onion and a bell pepper that I had on hand, throwing in carrots for some extra color. You could substitute a different kind of onion, try green or yellow bell pepper instead of red, or add in some broccoli for extra color and nutrition.
  • The sesame seeds can be omitted if you desire. I do, however, recommend keeping the sesame oil, rather than using canola oil for example, since it adds a distinct flavor to the dish.
  • Don’t like tofu? Substitute bite-sized pieces of boneless, skinless chicken breast.

Easy, delicious vegan fare with a reasonable price tag. What’s not to like?

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This entry was posted on May 13, 2012 by in Dinners, Everything Vegetarian, Meat-Free, Vegan Fare, Vegetarian Main Courses and tagged , , .
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