Even in 2016, I still get asked “if you don’t eat meat, what DO you eat?” Seriously. And as much as I would love to just reply with “raw tofu and carrot sticks”, there are some benefits to not always being a sass monster.
Having a food blog, I can address this question head-on. I can show people recipes like this, ones with some vegetables, protein, and grains so that they can see for themselves what vegetarians eat.
And I most certainly do not eat tofu every day, but we do eat it about once a week. Over the years, I’ve perfected cooking tofu so that it tastes exactly how I like it. I like it baked. I also like it sweet and fried with nut butter, or spicy and fried with sriracha. Marinating tofu with fun, tasty ingredients is your friend.
In stir-frys or in bowls like this, I like to fry up extra firm tofu with a coat of cornstarch to crisp it up. In this particular recipe, I soaked the tofu in a mixture of soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup and then fried everything up in a hot skillet with cornstarch. The crispy exterior of the tofu takes it to a whole other level.
This bowl is sweet, spicy and complex with both crunchy vegetables and soft vermicelli noodles. A total keeper!!
Have a great weekend everyone! xo
- 1 (12 oz.) package extra firm tofu
- 3 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
- 1 tsp chili garlic sauce
- 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
- 1 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 5 tbsp cornstarch
- 2 tbsp neutral oil (I used canola), for frying
- 2 cups shredded cabbage
- 1 red pepper, julienned
- 1 English cucumber, julienned
- 1 large carrot, julienned
- 8 oz. dry vermicelli noodles
- 1/3 cup sweet chili sauce
- 1/4 cup rice vinegar
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- Peanuts, chopped
- Scallions, green parts only, thinly sliced
- Fresh mint
- 1 lime, cut into wedges
- Wrap tofu in a clean, absorbent towel and set something heavy on top to wick away moisture. Let rest for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, thinly slice the cabbage and julienne the red pepper, cucumber and carrot. Toss together in a large bowl and set aside.
- Add vermicelli noodles to a large bowl and cover completely with boiling water. Let the noodles sit and cook in the water while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
- In the meantime, unwrap tofu and cut into even pieces, about 3/4-inch cubes. Add tofu to a shallow mixing bowl and top with the soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, sesame oil, and maple syrup. Toss to combine. Let rest for 2 minutes minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Use a slotted spoon to transfer the tofu to a large freezer bag. Add cornstarch, 1 tablespoon at a time, and toss to coat. Continue adding more cornstarch and tossing until tofu is coated in a gummy, white layer.
- In a cast iron skillet over medium-low heat, add 2 tbsp of oil and let warm for 30 seconds. Then use a slotted spoon to add the tofu to the pan (leaving any excess cornstarch behind). Cook on all sides for 1 minute, or until light golden brown. Remove tofu from pan as it’s finished browning. Set aside on a paper towel-lined plate.
- Drain the vermicelli noodles and set aside.
- In a small bowl or mason jar, combine the sweet chili sauce and rice vinegar. Set aside.
- To serve, divide the vermicelli into 2 bowls. Top with julienned vegetables, fried tofu, chopped peanuts, sliced green onions, fresh mint and lime wedges. Drizzle the dressing on top and enjoy!
MAKE IT GLUTEN FREE: use tamari instead of soy sauce