Sunday, November 9, 2014

Coconut Ginger Stirfry with Tofu

I had a goal last year to learn how to cook Asian food and to cook it well. I have been cooking Asian food for awhile but never felt my food was as good as the local Thai, Japanese, or Chinese fare. So I was bummed. Once I set the goal of learning this amazing and delightful cuisine, I found a couple unique resources that changed my style of Asian cooking completely. It was just perfect timing. The first resource is Rasa Malaysia written by the lovely Bee: a blog full of mouth-watering recipes that have methods I hadn't seen before in other Asian cookbooks or recipes. Because of her, I was able to confidently serve Kung Pao, with no hint of shame, but instead beaming with satisfaction. Because dang it, I finally nailed it (thanks to Bee of course!). 

My next surprising find came when I was looking through the cookbook section at Peregrine, a local bookstore, for Japanese street food. The cookbook Wagamama was a beautiful book with full color images and hey, it was on sale, so I gave it a shot. I completely immersed myself in this cookbook and read it front to back as if it were a novel. The authors include these fabulous sauces as well as ramen bowls and stirfrys made at home. I had never even thought to try ramen, and since timidly consuming my first real ramen meal, I can't get through two weeks without it. 

My Coconut Ginger Stirfry with Tofu is an adaptation from Wagamama's cookbook, but of course I added some other things I've learned from Rasa Malaysia too. I hope you enjoy, oh and I definitely recommend the resources I've mentioned if you also want to perfect Asian cooking at home. Good luck and good eats!

Coconut Ginger Stirfry with Tofu
(Printable Recipe)
Time: 1 hr 15 min. Serves: 2-3
Vegetarian. Kitchen Tested.
Recipe Adapted from Wagamama.

6 oz udon or ramen noodles, prepared as package describes, drained (not rinsed) and set aside
1 package extra firm tofu, preferably GMO free, organic
2 tsp sesame oil (optional)
1 1/2 tbsp coconut oil, or another high-heat oil
1 large garlic clove, minced
2 dried red chiles, deseeded and split in half
1 tbsp Chili Garlic Sauce (We use Huy Fong Food's, the makers of Sriracha)
1 onion, julienned
2 carrots, sliced on the bias or matchsticks
1 red bell pepper, sliced or matchsticks
1/2 bunch kale, rinsed well, de-ribbed and chopped
2 tbsp soy sauce, preferably organic (wheat free if need be)
Coconut Ginger Sauce, use full amount of recipe below
1 1/2 tsp cornstarch

Coconut Ginger Sauce:
1 tbsp coconut oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 inch piece ginger, peeled and grated
1 cup boiling water
1/3 cup coconut milk
1 tsp kosher salt
2 tsp honey
2 tsp lime juice

How To:
Preheat oven to 375ºF. Drain package of tofu, but keep block inside packaging. Using a knife, slice through block of tofu to create smaller sections, gently flip tofu out on side and slice through again laterally making the sections smaller again. Place small pieces on a plate lined with a paper towel and cover the top of tofu with another paper towel. Place another plate on top to increase pressure to allow excess moisture to be drawn out. Let rest for at least 10 minutes up to 30 minutes.

Arrange prepped tofu pieces in a glass pyrex and drizzle with sesame oil. Place in oven and bake for 45 minutes, flipping once through cooking. (Note: during this time prep your Coconut Ginger Sauce) Remove from oven and set aside.

Over medium high heat, heat a wok (or a large cast iron skillet works too). Once hot, add oil. Let oil heat until smoking (white smoke=good and black smoke=bad). Add tofu to pan well spaced apart. (This step is optional, we just like our tofu a little crispier, but of course you can add it in at the end with the sauce.) Let tofu fry on one side, flip and fry on the other side for another minute or so. Remove gently from wok and set aside.

Add garlic, stir quickly. Add red chiles, stir quickly. Add the Chili Garlic Sauce, stir again. Add in onion and carrots. Stir fry for 3 - 5 minutes or until the veg starts to change color. Add bell pepper, and kale. Stir fry for another 4 minutes or until the veg begins to soften. Add tofu back into the pan.

Add soy sauce, coconut ginger sauce, and sprinkle the mixture lightly with cornstarch. Wait about 30 seconds before stirring so that the cornstarch begins to dissolve. Now stir and flip the mixture so everything is coated with the sauce. Turn off heat.

I served this mixture over the cooked noodles, but you could also add the noodles to the wok to coat them in the sauce. Enjoy!

Coconut Ginger Sauce:
Heat oil in a small pan over medium heat. Add garlic and ginger, stir fry for one minute or until fragrant. Add boiling water, and coconut milk. Bring to a boil, careful not to let it boil over, then drop heat to low, allowing to simmer for 15 minutes or until reduced. Add salt, honey, and lime juice. Simmer for another couple minutes, taste for adjustments. Turn off heat and set aside.


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