25 - Caramelized Tofu

Although I knew all the “right” things to do to ensure that vegetarian Sam would get enough protein, it was not easy to influence his food preferences. He avoided most proteins, complimentary or otherwise, and I soon gave up efforts to lure him onto more nutritional paths.

I easily broke through all barriers with caramelized golden tofu.

This is an elaboration of a recipe from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone:

Slice one pound Chinese firm tofu into ¾ inch slices then cut each slice in half. Drain in a colander for about half an hour. Blot dry with paper towels.

Heat about two tablespoons peanut or canola oil in a heavy medium size skillet over fairly high heat. Add the tofu and fry until golden. It should take several minutes per side. You want it slightly crispy--so don’t rush. Let it get a nice crust before turning it over.

While you're ever so patiently waiting for the tofu to brown, mix two tablespoons soy sauce and 3 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar in a small bowl, and slice one cup of broccoli (I like spears with florets about an inch and a half long-- and one cup of carrots basically the same size as your broccoli pieces. Scoop a spoonful of oil out of the tofu frying pan--and swirl it around in another heavy skillet or a wok. When the oil is hot, add the soy mixture--and then, lowering the heat, add the browned tofu. Mix well and simmer for two minutes. Add 3 tablespoons water and cook until the sauce becomes syrupy and coats the tofu. Turn off the heat and let sit for ten minutes. While the tofu is stewing in its syrup, toss the broccoli and carrots with a few more tablespoons of water into the pan where the tofu was cooking. Cover and cook a few minutes--should be both slightly crisp and tender. (You can of course also use other vegetables)
Combine vegetables with tofu and serve--rice is more traditional--but you can also go the noodle route.

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