stir-fry: mushrooms, red bell peppers, and tofu
Even though I’m technically a lacto-ovo-vegetarian, I try to cook and eat vegan when I can. This stir-fry was adapted from Mark Bittman’s recipe in his wonderful tome of a cookbook, How to Cook Everything Vegetarian. (Check out his website here; he’s an omnivore, by the way.)
Grocery shopping for vegetarian and vegan cooking can be challenging in the Hatt, but there is hope: the New Yokel Market here in downtown, my source for tempeh, tofu, sundry vegan items, and organic/whole/local foods. (If only I could afford to shop exclusively there.) Consider this post my humble contribution to the movement to rescue tofu from its terrible reputation among omnivores (and, perhaps, some vegetarians). It’s all about preparation, friends.
I buy the extra-firm, organic tofu–mainly because that’s all there is to buy here. I drain off the water in the package, put it on a bed of paper towels, cover it with another layer of paper towels, and then press it with my super-fancy pressing system for at least 15 minutes. This does miracles for the texture and the likelihood of it not falling apart when I’m cooking it. Since I only cook for two, I use half of the tofu at a time. I chop it all into half-inch cubes, put half of it in a Ziploc bag, and freeze until the next tofu meal. (Bonus: freezing tofu makes it even firmer/chewier. Extra bonus: it keeps up to three months, or so I hear.)
I was working with what I had in the frig tonight, so this was a fairly simple stir-fry. I chopped a red bell pepper, a large clove of garlic (or about a tablespoon), and the caps of some local mushrooms. The other ingredients were vegetable stock, low-sodium soy sauce, olive oil, and of course the tofu. (I recently began spraying rather than pouring olive oil as a way to use less and cut back on fat. Where has my Misto been all my life?) I also seasoned with ground ginger and onion powder at the end. Fresh ginger and a real onion would be ideal, I imagine, but they weren’t too badly missed.
First, I sautéed the pepper until tender-crisp and charred on the edges. I scooped it out with a slotted spoon, set it aside, and did the same with the mushrooms–just until they were good and browned. Then I cooked the garlic (in a little puddle of oil) for a minute before adding in the tofu, which I cooked until it began to brown. I was careful with my stirring to avoid breaking the tofu. (Note: I don’t use nonstick cookware because of concerns about the possible carcinogens in the material, so I had to spritz some extra oil on the tofu and keep a close eye on it to minimize sticking. It’s sticky stuff.)
Finally, I added in a bit of vegetable stock and a dash of water and let the tofu-garlic mixture cook a bit more, until some of the liquid evaporated. I added the pepper and mushrooms back in, seasoned with soy sauce, ground ginger, and onion powder, gave it a few more stirs, and voilà.
Around here, food is doing pretty well to make it onto plates before we eat it. Table? Not usually.