Think you hate tofu? You haven’t tried these

Sentinel & Enterprise - - FRONT PAGE - By Cathy Thomas Or­ange County Regis­ter

With the world in the grip of a health cri­sis, it’s good to plan flex­i­ble eat­ing strate­gies. Many of us rely on meat as one of our pri­mary sources of pro­tein.

But with an open mind, let’s talk tofu.

It is high in pro­tein and con­tains the es­sen­tial amino acids your body needs. It also pro­vides fats and carbs, vi­ta­mins and min­er­als.

My hus­band hated tofu. I know there are a lot of folks in that camp.

Phil eats ev­ery­thing from beets to liv­er­wurst, stinky cheese to uni.

But up un­til the last cou­ple of years, he drew the I-won’teat-that line in the sand when it came to tofu.

The change came when I was too busy to cook due to a loom­ing book dead­line; he pre­pared a gar­lic-y Korean chicken-noo­dle soup that con­tained cubes of tofu.

That ir­re­sistible tofu-spiked soup was piv­otal.

Now once or twice a month, he eats tofu. Not on French va­ca­tions or camp­ing trips with his bud­dies, but at home.

Due to my tofu im­prove­ment pro­gram, de­signed to build fla­vor, we are no longer locked in tofu wars.

Mapo Tofu

Yield: 4 serv­ings

In­gre­di­ents

• 2 tea­spoons veg­etable or canola oil

• K yel­low onion, diced

• N pound ground turkey

• 2 cloves gar­lic, minced

• K cup veg­etable broth

• 1K ta­ble­spoons oys­ter sauce

• 14 ounces ex­tra firm tofu, pat­ted dry, cut into O- inch cubes

• 2 cups frozen peas and car­rots (no need to de­frost)

• N cup wa­ter

• 1 tea­spoon corn­starch

• 2 green onions, sliced, in­clud­ing half of dark green stalks

• N cup store-bought sweet chili sauce, see cook’s notes

Cook’s notes: We like the sweet spici­ness of sweet chili sauce, but if you pre­fer it spicier, use Sriracha sauce or Yuzu Pao (Sriracha spiked with yuzu cit­rus juice). I like to use the sweet chili sauce and add Sriracha to taste.

Di­rec­tions

1. Heat a large deep skil­let or wok over medium-high heat. When hot, swirl in the oil, add the yel­low onion and cook for 2 to 3 min­utes, un­til onion is soft­ened and translu­cent. Add the meat

and use your spat­ula to stir and break up.

2. When the meat be­gins to lose its pink color, add the gar­lic and stir-fry for 1 minute. Stir in broth and oys­ter sauce; bring to a sim­mer. Add the tofu and peas and car­rots. Cover and cook for 2 to 3 min­utes.

3. In a small bowl, whisk wa­ter and corn­starch. Stir this mix­ture into the pan and let cook for 2 min­utes longer. Stir in the green onions and sea­son with sweet chili sauce or hot sauce.

Broc­coli Tofu Stir-fry

Yield: 6 serv­ings

In­gre­di­ents

• K cup fat free, low sodium chicken or veg­etable broth

• 1 ta­ble­spoon sodium-re­duced soy sauce

• 2 ta­ble­spoons hoisin sauce

• Pinch dried red chili flakes

• 1 tea­spoon corn­starch

• 1 pound ex­tra-firm tofu

• 2 ta­ble­spoons sesame seeds

• 1 ta­ble­spoon peanut oil

• K tea­spoon Asian roasted sesame oil

• Non­stick spray

• O pound fresh shi­itake mush­rooms, stems re­moved and dis­carded (or used to pre­pare broth for fu­ture use), cut into Ninch wide slices

• 2K cup small broc­coli flo­rets, about 1K inches long

• 3 green onions, cut di­ag­o­nally into N- inch slices, in­clud­ing half of dark green stalks

• 1 large clove gar­lic, minced

Di­rec­tions

1. In a small bowl, com­bine broth,

soy sauce, hoisin, chili flakes and corn­starch. Stir to com­bine and set next to stove.

2. Drain tofu and pat dry with pa­per tow­els. Cut into 1-inch cubes. In a bowl, gently toss tofu with sesame seeds. Heat oils in wok or large, deep non­stick skil­let on medium-high heat. Add sesame-coated tofu cubes and stir-fry un­til nicely browned, about 4 to 5 min­utes. Trans­fer tofu to plate or pie plate.

3. Spray skil­let gen­er­ously with non­stick spray and re­turn to medium-high heat. Add mush­rooms and stir-fry un­til soft­ened, about 4 min­utes.

Add broc­coli and stir-fry un­til broc­coli is ten­der crisp, about 4 min­utes, adding a ta­ble­spoon of wa­ter if mix­ture seems to dry.

Add green onions and gar­lic; stir­fry about 30 sec­onds. Stir broth mix­ture and add to broc­coli mix­ture. Add tofu. Cook, gently stir­ring un­til sauce thick­ens (I use a sil­i­cone spat­ula). If de­sired, serve spooned over cooked brown rice, quinoa or farro.

Chipo­tle Tofu Tacos

Yield: 4 serv­ings

In­gre­di­ents

• 1 12-to-15-ounce black ex­trafirm tofu

In­gre­di­ents for marinade

• 1 ta­ble­spoon ex­tra-vir­gin olive oil

• 1 ta­ble­spoon shoyu, or tamari, or co­conut aminos

• 1 ta­ble­spoon fresh or­ange juice or ap­ple juice

• 2 tea­spoons maple syrup

• 1 ta­ble­spoon ar­row­root pow­der or non-GMO corn­starch

• K tea­spoon ground chipo­tle

• K tea­spoon chili pow­der

• K tea­spoon gar­lic pow­der

• K tea­spoon smoke pa­prika or reg­u­lar pa­prika

In­gre­di­ents for av­o­cado-lime crema

• 1 large ripe av­o­cado (pit­ted, peeled)

• Plain whole-milk Greek yo­gurt or soy-free Ve­ge­naise or sour cream

• K cup fresh cilantro leaves and ten­der stems

• Juice of 1 lime (about 2 ta­ble­spoons)

• N tea­spoon salt, plus more to taste

For serv­ing: warm corn tor­tillas or whole let­tuce leaves, pick­led onions, shred­ded cab­bage, radishes, salsa

Di­rec­tions

1. Slice tofu in half length­wise, wrap the blocks in pa­per tow­els and place on cut­ting board. Place some­thing heavy, such as a skil­let filled with cans, on top and al­low to sit for 15 min­utes or longer if pos­si­ble.

Don’t worry if they can only sit for a cou­ple of min­utes. Cut into 1inch cubes. Pre­heat oven to 400 de­grees and line a large rimmed bak­ing sheet with parch­ment pa­per.

2. In medium-size bowl or con­tainer that can hold the tofu in one layer, mix all the marinade in­gre­di­ents un­til well com­bined. Add tofu and gently coat each piece, try­ing not to break the cubes. If you have time let it mar­i­nate for 30 min­utes or up to 4 hours. Oth­er­wise pro­ceed to bak­ing it (Step #4).

3. Mean­while make the crema: In a food pro­ces­sor or blender, com­bine all crema in­gre­di­ents and process un­til smooth, adding a ta­ble­spoon or two of wa­ter to thin it out if nec­es­sary. Taste and add more salt if needed.

4. Ar­range tofu in one layer on pre­pared bak­ing sheet and bake for 20 to 25 min­utes in pre­heated oven or un­til golden on the edges, toss­ing tofu half­way through bak­ing time. Serve with tor­tillas or let­tuce leaves as a taco with av­o­cado crema or use atop a salad. Mapo Tofu adapted from “Steamy Kitchen’s Healthy Asian Fa­vorites” by Jaden Hair (Ten Speed, $24). Broc­coli Tofu Stir-Fry from “50 Best Plants on the Planet” by Cathy Thomas (Chron­i­cle, $35). Chipo­tle Tofu Tacos adapted from “Pamela Salz­man’s Quicker Than Quick” by Pamela Salz­man (Ha­chette, $28).

OR­ANGE COUNTY REGIS­TER

Mapo Tofu fea­tures ground turkey, peas and car­rots, but the star­ring at­trac­tion is large cubes of tofu.

AMY NEUNSINGER / OR­ANGE COUNTY REGIS­TER

Chipo­tle Tofu Tacos is a ve­gan meal that meat eaters and flex­i­tar­i­ans will crave.

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