Sunday, February 2, 2014

Roasted Sesame Tofu & Vegetables

Even if you don't like tofu I think you should try this recipe because the roasting gives the tofu such a nice texture--dense and almost meat-like. And the flavor of the sauce and the crispy browning/blackening is so, so nice! If you really can't stand the thought of tofu, you can probably make this with chicken. I haven't yet, but if I was going to, I'd cut 1 pound of chicken (probably boneless thighs because thighs hold up better in high heat) into 1-in pieces, and roast the pieces with the veggies until they were done, which would be way before the veggies are done, so I'd really watch them and remove them when the were done but not dried out. I'm guessing it might take 10 or 15 minutes. I'll try it someday and post an update.

Funny story for you: my oldest is now 17 and getting ready to graduate from high school. She loves tofu. She was quite a bit younger when I first started making this recipe--I'd say, 10'ish--and tofu did not cross her lips. One time after making this recipe I gave her a piece of the tofu to try (this was before I decided that longer cooking, which meant lots of delicious browning and crispy blackness, was better, so the tofu wasn't quite as amazing as this, and was definitely more tofu-like). She asked what it was. I told her to just try it. She did. It didn't go over very well, and she accused me of making her think it was a piece of potato, when, in fact, it was disgusting tofu, which I didn't. I might not tell you what it is at first, but I don't call it something it's not. Anyway, she told her personal horror story for years, usually when I was making something with tofu. Or talking about tofu. Or thinking about tofu. "Ach! Mom! Remember that time you made me eat a piece of tofu and I thought it was potato?? *gagging noises*". Then, all of a sudden about a year ago, she decided that tofu was amazing. Kids. Who understands them, anyway, right? 

Tofu is great because it absorbs the flavors of whatever sauce you put on it, which is perfect for this recipe because the marinade and sauce is so, so, so good. It's hard to go wrong with things like hoisin sauce and soy sauce and sesame oil. MmmMmm! 

I should say that when I make this I never feel like one package of tofu is enough, and wish I had remembered to buy two packages. And then I forget the next time. So consider using two packages if you really like tofu.

Roasted Sesame Tofu & Vegetables

1-2 14-oz packages Extra-Firm Tofu (see above)
1/2 cup soy sauce
2 1/2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb carrots, scraped and sliced on the diagonal
1 lb cauliflower (1 smallish head), cored and cut into bite-sized pieces
8 oz cremini mushrooms, halved or quartered if large
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1/2- 1 teaspoon chili-garlic paste
6 green onions, green parts only, thinly sliced
sesame seeds for garnish, if desired
Hot cooked rice for serving

1. Heat your oven to 450, and adjust your oven racks so that you can cook two baking sheets at a time (in my oven this is the 2nd and 4th positions). Line two baking sheets with foil and spray with non-stick spray or mist with olive oil.

2. Use paper towels to pat the block of tofu dry and then cut it into 32 pieces. (I make 4 horizontal cuts, 4 vertical cuts, and then 1 more cut right down the middle.) Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and olive oil. Reserve 3 tablespoons of the mixture in a small bowl and set it aside.

4. Add the carrots, cauliflower, and mushrooms to the large bowl and stir until they are coated with the marinade. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the vegetables to one of the prepared baking sheets. Add the tofu to the bowl and gently stir to coat the pieces with the marinade. Let it sit for about 5 minutes. Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to the second prepared baking sheet. Discard the marinade and use a paper towel to wipe out the bowl.

5. Put both baking sheets in the oven at the same time and roast, stirring occasionally, until the tofu is browned and crispy, and the vegetables are tender and browned, and scorched in places, 30-35 minutes. Switch the baking sheets' position once or twice during roasting so nothing burns. My vegetables are usually done before the tofu, so I just take them out of the oven and let them sit, loosely covered with foil, until the tofu is ready.

6. To the 3 tablespoons reserved marinade, add the rice wine vinegar, sesame oil, and chili-garlic paste, and mix well.

7. Transfer the roasted tofu and vegetables to the large bowl, and add the green onion. Drizzle all with the sesame oil mixture and mix gently to distribute it on all the pieces. Serve tofu and vegetables over the hot cooked rice and sprinkle with the sesame seeds if desired.

Makes 4-6 servings.

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