Tag Archives: asian

General Tso’s Tofu


I had enough energy before falling asleep one night just long enough to crack open the latest Vegetarian Times magazine that arrived that day, show a picture of this dish to my husband and say “I think I have everything I need to make this.” I say stuff like that all the time. This time, I actually made it happen.

His review? “Officially put this on the list of the ‘hits’ ” — his favorite things that I’ve made over the years. It’s on my list of hits too. Nobody loves fried tofu more than me, but this recipe was a nice reminder that there are other ways to get tofu crispy and delicious without all of that frying. We both devoured this — I came awfully close to licking my plate. (Note: the original recipe says it serves 4. The two of us polished off the whole thing!)

I only did two things differently than the original VT recipe. I like things saucy, so I did 1 1/2 times the recipe for the sauce. I’ll post the original recipe here and you can decide. I also steamed purple cabbage with the broccoli simply because I had some I needed to use up. Looking forward to making General Tso’s Tofu again this week!

Crispy Tofu
• 1 16 oz. package of firm tofu, drained
• 2 tsp. low sodium soy sauce•
• 2 tsp. rice vinegar
• 1 tsp. mirin (rice wine)
• 1 tsp. vegetable oil
• 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
• 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger
• 1 Tbsp. cornstarch

• 1/2 c. low sodium vegetable broth
• 2 Tbsp. sugar
• 1 2/ Tbsp low sodium soy sauce•
• 4 tsp. mirin
• 2 tsp. rice vinegar
• 2 tsp. sesame oil
• 2 tsp. cornstarch
• 1/2 tsp. tomato paste
• 1/2 tsp. samal oelek chili paste, optional (I didn’t have this, so I put a few chili flakes in there)
• 2 tsp. vegetable oil
• 4 green onions, green parts chopped (about 1/3 of a cup — I used white parts too)
• 1 clove garlic, minced (about 1 tsp.)
• 1/2 tsp. grated fresh ginger

• 2 c. steamed broccoli and/or other vegetables
• 2 c. brown rice

First, make the Crispy Tofu.
This is how I regularly make tofu, minus the marinade. I just drain, cut, sprinkle with cornstarch and bake. But here are the details:

1. I put entire block into my tofu press for 15 minutes or so. If you don’t have one, cut tofu block into two broad slabs. Wrap slabs in paper towels and place between two cutting boards. Weight top board with soup cans and press 30 minutes. Unwrap tofu and cut into 1-inch cubes.

2. Combine soy sauce, vinegar, mirin, oil, garlic, and ginger in a resealable container. Add tofu and toss to coat. Marinate 30 minutes or overnight. The tofu should absorb all of the liquid.

3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and coat a baking sheet with cooking spray. Sift cornstarch over tofu and turn to coat evenly. Spread in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake 30 to 40 minutes or until firm and crispy, turning regularly to brown all sides.

Next up, the sauce:
1. Whisk together broth, sugar, soy sauce, mirin, vinegar, sesame oil, cornstarch, tomato paste and chili paste (if using) or chili flakes in a small bowl (Again, I did 1 1/2 times the listed amounts. Next time I might double because it’s sooooooo good).

2. Heat vegetable oil in wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions, garlic and ginger and stir-fry one minute, being careful not to burn. Add the sauce and cook one minute, or until thickened. Stir in tofu. Serve with vegetables and rice

* Use gluten-free Tamari instead and the whole dish becomes gluten-free!

Simple Vegan Stir-Fry

Stir-fry is one of those things that I love to make because it can change all the time. Other than a couple of things (like this salad) I’m rarely a creature of habit when it comes to food. My squeeze can eat the same thing every single day and be happy with it. I’m… not that way. With stir-fry, there are all kinds of different sauces, veggies and proteins you can put in it to change it up. This is a good basic recipe because I always have the items for the sauce on hand and you can make it only if you have a couple of veggies on hand too. Just when you think you don’t have anything to eat for dinner — voila!

• 1 to 2 Tbsp. oil (I usually use a combo of whatever’s handy — sesame, ginger, safflower, olive, whatever)
• 4 tsp. cornstarch
• 6 Tbsp. soy sauce
• 1 c. water
• 1+ tsp. ginger powder (or fresh ginger, see below)
• Any veggies you like!
• Red pepper flakes
• 1-2 cloves minced garlic (optional)

I first heat about 1 Tbsp. oil in a wok or large frying pan. I try to start small because we rarely need as much oil as it seems we will! For a little kick, I’ll sometimes sprinkle in some red pepper flakes and let them fry in the oil for bout 15 to 30 seconds.

If you are using a protein — whether it’s drained tofu, tempeh, chicken, etc., I’d do that first, remove it from the pan, add another tablespoon of oil and proceed as follows. Last night, I went for it with just veggies.

After the oil is heated (and pepper flakes in there, if using) I add minced garlic and saute quickly. Have your veggies chopped up and ready to go in! Last night when I made this, I couldn’t find my ginger powder that normally goes in the sauce mixture for the life of me, so I minced up about 1 to 2 Tbsp. fresh ginger and added it at this time too.

Next add your veggies. I try to add the ones that take a little longer to cook first — carrots, broccoli, green beans. Then add the others: onion (either chopped white or, as I had last night, green onions), mushrooms and softer vegetables. One thing I love about my market I normally go to is the items they have in bulk. I was able to buy one large carrot, a small handful of green beans, a small handful of snowpeas — that way you can have a little bit of everything.

Cook all your veggies until they seem tender crisp, but not quite done yet (not rocket science here — you can always cook as long as you need in the end). Whisk together the soy sauce, cornstarch, water and ginger powder (if using) and add to pan. Cook, stirring often until the sauce reaches your desired thickness. I usually find about 5 minutes is sufficient.

And that’s it! Once you have the veggies chopped, it takes about 15 minutes to make — coincidentally the exact same amount of time it takes to make a nice fluffy pot of quinoa to serve it over, so you don’t have to wait around 45 minutes for rice.

Restaurant Review: Noodles & Company

I’ve passed Noodles & Company in Downtown Royal Oak at least weekly since I moved to Michigan three and half years ago. I just assumed it was stereotypical semi-fast food chain and shrugged it off. But I’ve always been curious. After a friend made pan-fried noodles modeled after a Noodles & Company dish, I decided I had to give it a shot.

Much to my surprise, what I got was both delicious and not horrible for me! Basically, there are five or six noodle dishes in three categories: American, Asian and Mediterranean, and a handful of soups and salads. For the noodle dishes, you can get either get a “regular” or small bowl. The small seemed like it would be plenty and it was.

I got the Japanese pan-fried noodles and added tofu to it (I snagged the photo from PETA.org). Unfortunately, they forgot the tofu, but they quickly stir-fried some up when I realized it and I tossed it in. The noodles were thick and chewy, and a little crispy on the outside. The flavor was great with just a bit of a kick. The mung bean sprouts and fresh cilantro helped cool that off a little (but really it wasn’t very spicy, and I can only handle a good medium on most stuff). I got a small side salad too, which was Romaine lettuce and a few of vegetables and the balsamic vinaigrette was fine.

I checked it out when I got home, and the noodle dish I got was only  320 calories on its own — the organic tofu adding another 100 calories. I’m not much of a calorie counter, but a dinner that’s around 400 calories and about 25 grams of protein isn’t bad. Not shocking, though, is that there’s a fair amount of sodium in the dish. Maybe that’s because there’s a bunch of soy sauce in this dish — as most of the Asian dishes there, if you look at the nutritional chart, seem to have about twice as much sodium as the rest of the menu (except for spaghetti and meatballs which tops the charts at nearly 1,500 grams).

We got our food quickly and the staff was really friendly. I also think it’s kind of cool that they apparently get paid accordingly so they aren’t allowed to accept tips. I’ll definitely keep this place in mind the next time I need a quick, inexpensive meal when I’m running around in Royal Oak.

Cooking Club: Fresh Rolls, Spring Rolls and Dipping Sauces

Michelle made some delicious baked spring rolls and I provided ingredients for everyone to make their own fresh rolls, so I decided to do them in one post, along with Karen’s yummy dipping sauces.

Up first, the fresh rolls, since basically you can put whatever you want out and let everyone make their own!

You need to buy some rice paper sheets, which people dunk into a plate of water until soft, then they can fill with whatever veggies and herbs you have on hand and roll them up. I always make big fat ones with too much filling for myself. If you were to make them to serve to others in a more elegant way, you could make them thinner and cut them into slices.

I put out sliced green onions, glass noodles (other Asian noodles work great too), mung bean sprouts, carrots, cilantro and sliced cucumbers. Tofu also would be good here, especially if you’re making thinner ones because it could stick together better when sliced.

And now, onto Michelle’s spring rolls! These were GOOOOOD. And baked no less! I try not to order stuff like this out too often because, let’s face it, fried crap is bad for you. But these are baked and homemade and oh, so good. Michelle said she got these from her friend and adapted them to include veggies she had on hand. I imagine you can get pretty creative with these and include whatever you like! (The spring rolls are in the bottom right corner in the white dish).

• 1 c. broccoli
• 1 c. carrots
• 2 c. cabbage
• 1 c. snow peas
• 8 to 10 shallots
• 1 c. mushrooms
• fresh ginger
• 2-3 Tbsp. canola or veg oil
• 2-3 tsp. sesame oil
• 2-3 tsp. soy sauce
• 2 tsp. sugar
• salt and white pepper to taste
• eggroll wrappers (one pkg)
• bowl of water

1. Cut up all veggies into small pieces (thinly sliced).  In large pan or wok heat up canola oil and add mushrooms and ginger.  After a minute, add rest of veggies.  Cook for 2-3 min.  Add sesame oil, soy sauce, vegan sugar, salt and pepper.  Cook another 3 minutes.  Remove from heat.

2. Take an eggroll wrapper, use fingers to moisten the edge with water, lay the wrapper in a diamond shape and place veg mixture in middle.  Fold up bottom, sides and then roll up to the top (use enough water to seal).

3. Bake at 400 for 10-15 minutes (until nicely browned I imagine) or I’m sure you could also steam or fry.

And now for Karen’s delicious dipping sauces! Unfortunately I didn’t take pictures of all three sauces, but I did take a photo of my own fresh roll and the two sauces I used with it — the peanut sauce and garlic sauce. Here are her recipes for those two and the ginger lime!

Sweet Garlic
• 4 Tbsp. sugar
• 1/4 c. soy sauce
• 1 c. broth
• 2 Tbsp. cornstarch mixed
with 1/4 c. cold water
• 1 clove of garlic crushed
with 1/4 tsp. salt
Heat sugar, soy sauce and
broth to boiling, lower
heat and add cornstarch/water mixture,
stirring at a simmer until thick.
Stir in garlic/salt.  serve warm or cool.
Peanut                                                                 Ginger Lime
• 2 Tbsp. minced garlic                                                  • 2 Tbsp. lime juice
• 1/4 c. hot water                                                             • 1 Tbsp. vegetarian oyster sauce
• 1/2 c. peanut butter                                                      • 1 Tbsp. water
• 2 T soy sauce                                                                  • 1 Tbsp. chile paste with garlic
• 4 T rice vinegar                                                              • 1 tsp. sugar
• 2 Tbsp. sweet white miso                                           • 2 tsp. grated ginger
• 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes                                           • 2 cloves minced garlic
Mix everything together!                                               Mix everything together!