Wednesday, May 19, 2010

'baby we go side by side'

the food: Caramelized Tofu with Brussels Sprouts and Mushrooms
the song: "Tenderoni" Chromeo

I am very excited to share this recipe. Since I found it a few weeks ago, it has made almost weekly appearances in my house and no one has complained yet. It comes together quickly and uses only one pan. I'm always pleasantly surprised with the unique flavors and textures. It provides a nice, different dinner that gives us a break from the usual routine.  

In the past, I haven't been a big fan of stir fry that I make at home. I tend to go too light on the seasonings. I totally dig salty, saucey creations served over rice that someone else makes (Mama Fu's comes to mind). But my everyday stir fry tends to be a little bland. So much so that I swore them off after years of mediocre rice dishes I made for us in college. But this unconventional stir fry has won be back. 

I love brussels sprouts prepared the way they are in this recipe...shaved thin and sauteed with lots of garlic and olive oil. Roasted brussels are still my favorite, but this is so much quicker that I cook them this way more often. I got this recipe from 101cookbooks after searching "tofu" and "brussels sprouts," which I happened to have on hand and was looking to use up. Doesn't that a squeamish eater's nightmare? The combination of flavors here seems a little odd when you first look at it...tofu, brussels sprouts, pecans, cilantro...wha'? But trust me, the unexpected comes together so very nicely that you'll wonder why you haven't always served your brussels sprouts with cilantro.

Along with stir fry, I swore off home-cooked tofu in college as well. Everytime I tried it my tofu turned out slimey and very unappetizing. I realize now that I didn't know how was just learning how to cook in those days, because now I get the perfect tofu everytime. So in this recipe I added the important step of pressing tofu, which is something I do anytime I'm cooking firm tofu. Yes, it requires some thought ahead of time, but pressing tofu is a simple step that provides a no-slime guarantee. I drain the tofu and wrap the whole block in a dish towel in the fridge before bed the night before I plan on making the meal. The next morning before work, I'll switch out the dish towel for a dry one and leave it in the fridge all day. When I'm ready to cook, I have perfect tofu waiting to soak up flavor. 

Serve over rice or maybe vermicelli topped with soy sauce and cracked red pepper. I have been toying with the idea of adding something spicy to the mix (a jalapeno, perhaps?), but it is hard to interfere with a combination this good. This picture is the tofu alone, but it looks pretty with the vegetables mixed in, too.

Caramelized Tofu w/ Brussels Sprouts & Mushrooms

adapted from 101cookbooks 

7-8 ounces extra-firm tofu, pressed in a dish towel for at least 8 hours
a big pinch of sea salt
olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, minced (I use at least 2, usually more)
1/3 cup pecans, chopped and toasted
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
1/2 lb. brussels sprouts, washed and cut into very thin slices
1 cup cremini mushrooms, washed and quartered

Slice the pressed tofu into thin 1-inch segments. Cook the tofu strips in a large hot skillet with a splash of olive oil and a pinch of salt until golden, about 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic and pecans and cook for another couple of minutes. Stir in the sugar. Remove from heat and add cilantro. Scrape the tofu out of the pan and set aside while you cook the mushrooms.

In the same pan, add another splash of olive oil. Saute chopped mushrooms over medium-low heat with a pinch of salt and pepper (and more garlic, if you like), until tender, about 8 minutes. Add mushrooms to tofu.

Once again, in the same pan, add a touch more olive oil, another pinch of salt, and turn up the heat to medium high. When the pan is hot, stir in the shredded brussels sprouts and cook for about 5-7 minutes, stirring a couple of times until tender and bright green. Add tofu and mushrooms back to the pan and stir to combine. Serve over rice or noodles with soy sauce. 



  1. Okay, I will be trying this next week. Looks delicious! Thanks for sharing...

  2. I hope you like it, Sara! Thanks for reading. :)