Peanut and Red Chile Tofu with Peppers

Extra-firm tofu is sliced and skillet-fried until golden and crisp.

After sauteing peppers and onions and chilies, the tofu returns to the pan along with a sweet finishing sauce.

Trust us, that spicy, sweet tofu is in there somewhere, buried beneath pea shoots and sliced, dressed radishes. A bowl of rice is all you need to complete this quick, weeknight-friendly meal.

Let's begin my mixing our sauce in bowl. Simply whisk together and then set aside: 1/2 cup maple syrup or brown sugar, 3 T. hoisin sauce, 2 T. ketchup, 2 T. rice or white vinegar, 1/2 cup water, 2 T. tamari or soy sauce, 2 t. sesame oil, 1 t. cayenne pepper and 1 heaping t. ground ginger.

Next, by pat dry one 14-16 oz. block of extra-firm tofu. The firmer the better here so the sprouted variety, sold at all natural food stores and most supermarkets, is an ideal choice. If you can't find it just go with regular extra-firm; tofu labeled simply as "firm" won't hold up well when pan fried.

Slice the tofu into triangles (as seen above) or cubes or rectangles. Try to get around 12-16 pieces, all similar in size. If you need lessons in tofu butchery there are plenty of online tutorials!

Heat 2 T. coconut, grapeseed or peanut oil in a wide non-stick skillet. A well-seasoned iron skillet is another excellent option. When the oil is very hot add the tofu and cook, without flipping, for a couple of minutes. Keep the heat steady and at medium. Flip the tofu pieces and brown on at least two sides until golden and crispy on the outside. This should take about 10 minutes total. Remove the tofu to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside.

Return the skillet to the stove and add 1 more T. of oil. Increase the heat to medium-high. Toss in 6-8 whole dried red chilies and stir for 30 seconds or until they begin to darken. Quickly add 1 onion (thinly sliced) and 1 green or red bell pepper (also thinly sliced.) Stir often until the veggies are just softening. Return the tofu to the skillet along with the pre-mixed sauce. Cook for a minute or two. The sauce should become glossy and thick. Throw in a large handful of roasted, unsalted peanuts and stir to combine.

Remove from heat and serve hot with rice. Garnish if you like with sliced scallions or snipped chives and, if available, fresh young pea shoots.  


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