One thing you need to know about me is that I am not a methodical cook, nor am I a particularly organized one. I'm basically just intuitive and improvisatory and that works out fine for me and the people I feed. I tend toward one-pot meals because I am not practiced at coordinating the appearance of several unrelated dishes at once, all appropriately hot and done and ready to eat. I tend to cook things that don't suffer much from my non-optimal kitchen and failure to prep.

With this dish, I didn't really have my wits about me. My evening trajectory changed radically owing to the cancellation of a rehearsal, see, which meant that I stayed at work later than planned and abandoned grocery shopping and came home to practice and had to wedge dinner in there somewhere.

Before I started practicing, I put two cups of brown rice in the rice cooker and started pressing a tub of extra-firm tofu. I love tofu and am always looking for ways to make it more acceptable to the Brit. Pressing the water out makes it easier to handle and gives it a more interesting texture. I sliced the tofu brick through the long way, put it on a tray with a cutting board and some leftovers on top to weight it, and put it in the fridge.

Then I sang for an hour. I have a recital in two weeks and haven't even seen my pianist yet and have a whole lot of Norwegian to memorize. You don't want to bother with brown rice or pressing your tofu if you're really hungry. But if you can dink around on a music or art project for awhile while your rice cooks/tofu presses, by all means do it.

If you have some dried shiitake mushrooms, it would be a good idea to rehydrate them while you are dinking around. I like to simmer them over low heat for 15 or 20 minutes. Even though I am not a big mushroom fan, I love these little buggers. They're cheap at my favorite co-op, they impart a chewy texture and distinctive flavor to all kinds of dishes, the soaking water can and should be used in whatever you're cooking, and the Brit loves them.

When you're ready to get serious, dump the water off your tofu, pat dry with a paper towel (or clean linen/cotton one), and slice into whatever configuration you enjoy. You're going to dry-fry these in a non-stick pan over medium heat. The idea here is to cook as much water as possible out of your tofu, so that it is golden on all sides. You want the heat high enough to evaporate any water you press out of it, but not so high that the tofu starts to stick. As the tofu cooks, press down on gently and frequently with your spatula, to get more of the water out. Dry-frying will take awhile, so you can start it up while you chop your veg. (If you don't have time to dry-fry, cube the tofu and toss in a non-stick pan with oil and soy sauce, heat up to medium high and just plain fry it. Mmm.)

An inch of peeled fresh ginger
2 big cloves of garlic
A small onion
Some bell pepper, if you have any
The peeled stalk of your broccoli
Your broccoli into florets (I used one medium head)
Your rehydrated mushrooms, if you have any. Reserve the water. If you didn't rehydrate any mushrooms, heat some water. You need it for your peanut sauce.

I don't have a wok and I'm pretty sure that's why my stir-fries tend to get a little limp. It's okay. They taste good. Put a few tablespoons of oil (not olive) in your saute pan or wok, and add the ginger and garlic to the cold pan. Crank heat to medium, so as to avoid burning the garlic. I did this after the tofu was done, so I could use the same pan. Here is Tofu Henge:
Tofu Henge.

By this time my rice was cooked, too, and I was just la-di-da-ing around the kitchen.

Add your brocc and mushrooms to the pan and turn the heat up a bit. Cook for a few minutes and then add onions and bell pepper. If it seems like the veg is sticking or burning, it is okay to put a small amount of water in the pan, like a tablespoon or two. It will steam the veg.

Keep your eye on the veg and start multi-tasking in earnest. For the sauce:
1.5 c hot water or mushroom soaking liquid or broth
1/2 c peanut butter, the natural kind
a big plop of miso
balsamic or rice vinegar (I only had balsamic)
Sri Racha sauce, which is mandatory
1 tsp of corn starch dissolved in cold water
Some lime or orange juice
Soy sauce to taste

This sauce-making is an imprecise art. Do it in the mushroom water pan over low heat, so that the peanut butter melts properly. I just whisk everything together, tasting until I like it. Add the corn starch at the end and heat through, then decide that the sauce is too thick, and thin it by squeezing an orange into it, which is all you have on hand. Lime would probably be better.

Keep in mind that you want the sauce salty because when you add the veg, tofu, and rice, it's suddenly going to seem much less salty.

Add the tofu to the saute pan and cover the whole mess with peanut sauce. Serve over brown rice. I also had some leftover edamame, so I stirred those in too. It looked like this:
Broccoli tofu stir fry with peanut sauce.


  1. Marigoldie said...

    We are making this tonight. XO.  

  2. Marigoldie said...

    It was good.