Things You Can Caramelize

What food comes to mind when you think of caramelizing? Let’s see… there’s onions, shallots, nuts, apples, creme brulee, etc. Have you ever considered tofu?

I know it’s a bit odd, but hear me out! Tofu is one of those foods that might require some extra coaxing for folks to try. But perhaps caramelizing them to give them more depth, flavor and color will help you to consider trying this recipe for Caramelized Tofu.

For lunch today we wanted to use up some bok choy and tofu we purchased last week. Thanks to my friend, Elly, she shared the site of 101 Cookbooks with me for a pancake recipe. On the same site, my eyes found this dish. I made some adaptations to use what I had on hand and overall, its a great way to use tofu. It made the tofu both sweet and salty – a great combination for most foods. To pair with this, I served it with steamed vegetable dumplings and a simple homemade ponzu sauce.


Here is my adaption of Caramelized Tofu with Bok Choy:

7 – 8 ounces extra-firm tofu cut into thin 1-inch segments
a couple pinches of fine-grain sea salt
a couple sprays of cooking spray
2 medium cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup green onion, sliced
3-4 baby bok choy , washed and cut into 1/8-inch wide ribbons
salt & pepper to taste
few drops of sesame oil

Cook the tofu strips in large hot skillet (or pot) with a bit of salt and a sprays of cooking spray. Saute until slightly golden, about 4 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Stir in sugar. Cook for another couple of minutes.

In the same pan, add a touch more sprays of cooking spray, another pinch of salt, and dial the heat up to medium-high. When the pan is nice and hot stir in the chopped bok choy. Cook for 2 – 3 minutes, stirring a couple times (but not too often) until softened.

Return the tofu to the pan with the bok choy and toss together with salt, pepper and sesame oil before serving.

Serves 2 – 3 as a main, 4 as a side

*I’m also submitting this to the Bookmarked Recipes blogging event, hosted by Ruth of Ruth’s Kitchen Experiments. This is a great weekly blogging event so join in the fun or check out the round up every Monday on Ruth’s site!*

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Miso Soup

Miso Soup

The Miso Soup was made by heating about 4-6 cups of water just until hot, not boiling. We then stirred in 1-2 tablespoons of white miso paste (fermented soybean) and stirred until dissolved. We then added rehydrated wakame (seaweed) and diced soft tofu. Once it was all warmed through (not boiling!), it was ready to serve.

Pad Thai-riffic!

One thing I love about our new neighborhood is the close proximity we are to asian markets. There is a thriving neighborhood called “Argyle” that is home to many Vietnamese and Thai Chicagoans. I’m in heaven while grocery shopping within the Argyle neighborhood… because so many of the asian ingredients I use can be found at much better prices here.

While shopping in Argyle, I decided to make some Pad Thai. Making pad thai sauce from scratch is often a lengthy process involving lots of ingredients to get the perfect sweet and spicy flavors reminicent of traditional pad thai. So while shopping in the asian markets, I found a pre-made pad thai sauce that looked promising. With it, I made chicken pad thai.

Pad Thai is a dish of stir-fried rice noodles with eggs, fish sauce, tamarind juice, red chili pepper plus a combination of bean sprouts, shrimp, chicken, or tofu, garnished with crushed peanuts and cilantro. Its normally servied with a lime wedges – the lime juice added to the dish really freshens it up! In Thailand, it is also served with a piece of banana flower.

There have evolved two different styles of Pad Thai: the version most often found in the streets of Thailand, which is relatively dry and light; and the Western version which may be covered in a red oil and can be heavy tasting.

Outside of Thailand, Pad Thai is one of the best-known Thai dishes, and is very popular in Thai restaurants in America and Australia.

Here is my cheater’s recipe for Chicken Pad Thai:

1 bottle pre-made pad thai sauce

1/2 package of bahn pho noodles (small or medium width)
3 cloves garlic
1/2 large onion, sliced
1/4 cup carrots, sliced in matchsticks
1-2 boiled chicken breasts, chopped
1 block tofu, diced
2 eggs, cooked & scrambled
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 stalks green onion, sliced
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
crushed peanuts
lime wedges

In a pot, boil water and add rice noodles.
Cook noodles until softened; drain & set aside.

In a large pan, add oil and prepare scrambled eggs.
Remove from pan; set aside.

In same pan, add oil.
Add garlic, onions and sliced carrots.
When softened, add cooked chicken.
Add entire bottle of sauce; stir to coat.
Add tofu; stir to coat.
Add cooked noodles & scrambled eggs.

To serve, plate noodles and top with cilantro, green onions, bean sprouts, peanuts and lime.

Stir (Fry) Crazy!

My husband loves shrimp to no end… so I decided to make him a stir fry with veggies and tofu.
Tofu is a popular Chinese food and ingredient. It’s made with soy milk that is coagulated, pressed and made into blocks. Making tofu from soy milk is similar to the technique of making cheese from milk. I prefer firm and extra firm tofu. This form of fresh tofu still contains a great amount of moisture. It has the firmness of raw meat but bounces back readily when pressed. The texture of the inside of the tofu is similar to that of a firm custard.

Here is my recipe for Shrimp & Tofu Stir Fry:

1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 lb shrimp
1 block firm tofu, cubed
2 cups frozen or fresh asian stir fry veggies
1 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
garlic & onion powder to taste
salt & pepper to taste

In a pan, saute garlic and shrimp.
When shrimps turn pink, add veggies and heat through.
Add sauce & tofu and heat through.
Season to taste.

I served this over brown rice