Ginger Peanut Tofu Stir Fry

It's spring, and there's no denying it. It's been spring pretty much since autumn, but now, for sure, it's spring. It's not just the short sleeves and outdoor dining that tells me, either, it's the new veggies and the flowering trees. So it celebrate this unexpected yet totally happening seasonal shift, I bought pea shoots. Pea shoots are like sprouts, plus greens. Here's a bit more information on them, if you're up for that sort of thing. I didn't go out looking for pea shoots, I actually went looking for flowers to plant. Because, you know, it's spring. We took our first trip out to this year's CSA, Greensgrow (three CSAs in three years!), and they had some veg for sale. They had some of the wintry veg I've become accustomed to in the past few months, but they also had scallions and pea shoots. I should have bought the scallions, they'd have gone great in this recipe, but at least I grabbed the pea shoots. At lunch they were used in a salad and for the next night's dinner, they were the star of this stir fry. Also, yesterday's salad dressing became today's marinade. You know what we call that? It's same dinner different day, because I made one sauce and used it two different ways. Salad dressing is marinade and marinade is salad dressing, it's just that sometimes I don't think of it. I always have some sort of homemade dressing on hand, but rarely do I do anything exciting with it other than top my greens. The dressing in the spotlight today is the Ginger Peanut Salad Dressing that I first wrote about on Saturday's Mouse over the summer. This stuff is good, it's like the dressing of Japanese restaurants but not thick or clumpy like that can get, and with a bit of the richness of peanut butter. I'll include the recipe for that at the end, or you can click the link above for the step-by-step. Since I already had a jar of the dressing in the fridge, my first step was to drain the tofu. Even if you don't have the dressing ready to go in advance, drain your tofu now and make marinade later. When I have fresh (unfrozen) tofu, I dry it out by cutting it into cubes and laying it out like this: cooling rack, towel, tofu, towel, heavy cutting board and then something heavy on top. So the tofu is under this green towel. When I freeze my tofu (and I'm all for freezing tofu), I just press the water out with my hands. Also, sometimes, I bake it at a low temperature to dry it, or dry fry it. Do whatcha need to do. Photos of a very similar layout a year ago, here. Give the tofu a half-hour to drain like this, or drain it however you do it. While that was happening I cut up my veg; you might want to take this time to make the marinade. I had those carrots in the freezer from when we talked about freezing carrots. This is a little bit less than a cup of blanched and defrosted carrots, diced. Also mushrooms. In an ideal world, I'd have shiitakes on hand, or even white mushrooms, but that's not the case and you know, I really don't go out shopping and get all the exact right ingredients for each meal I make. I want to use what's in the fridge. So if you're making this fancy, get the shiitakes, but otherwise, hey, why not add that mushroom in the fridge? So I cut up my portabella into small chunks. It's about a cup of chopped mushroom, whatever mushroom you use. Use more if your dining partner likes mushrooms as much as you do. Chop them smaller if he/she is less tolerant. And I chopped up two garlic cloves and half a red onion. Again, scallions are ideal but we use what we have. At this point I loaded the drained tofu into a take-out container and poured some dressing on top. Maybe three tablespoons? And then I gave it a good shake to coat. I left the tofu for half an hour to drink in the goodness of the dressing while I did other things. After half an hour, I set some water to boil for noodles. Lots of times we have stir fries without rice or noodles, but when we do have a starch with our stir fry, I like to have it ready in advance so it can hop in the pan with the veg and sauce and take on some flavor. So I had some udon noodles boiling. And from there, it happens pretty fast. It's a stir fry, after all. I start with some mild oil - in this case, safflower, but use what you like. More than enough to coat the bottom of the pan, but not so much that your tofu is swimming. Bring the temperature up to a ripple and throw in the tofu. I did drain some of the marinade off the tofu first, and set the drippings aside. I gave the tofu a good head start, about five minutes, moving it and flipping it, until it started to get golden and crispy, like this: Then veg, in order of the time they'd need. Onions first. Then garlic and mushrooms. Then carrots. Pea shoots just need to wilt, they don't need much time at all. I added a bit more of the marinade/dressing/sauce. Maybe a quarter cup or so. Taste and see. And stirred everything around. Then pea shoots. And noodles. Toss that around for a good minute to coat everything and wilt the shoots, and you're all set. Yesterday's salad dressing is today's marinade and it's tangy and garlic-ginger spicy and awesome. *as always with my "vegan" recipes, do swap out the honey for something else that makes you happy. These recipes are cross-posted at Saturday’s Mouse, where I’m working on making food out of food.

Ginger Peanut Stir Fry

  • 1 block Firm tofu, cubed and drained
  • 3 oz Pea shoots
  • 1 cup Carrots, blanched and diced
  • 1 cup Mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Red onion (or scallion)
  • 2 cloves Garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mild oil (safflower, etc)
  • 1/2 cup (to taste) Ginger Peanut Dressing (recipe below)
  • 4 smaller servings Udon noodles or rice, cooked
  • Marinate the drained tofu in 3 tablespoons of dressing for 30 minutes.
  • Heat oil to shimmering and drain tofu marinade (reserve for later).
  • Quickly fry tofu until just starting to brown around the edges.
  • Add veg in order of cooking time (onions, mushrooms & garlic, carrots, pea shoots.
  • Stir fry until veg are cooked but still crunchy. Add remaining dressing (to taste) and noodles or rice.
  • Serve hot, maybe with some red pepper flake if that's your thing.
  • Prep time: 1 hour
  • Cook time: 10 mins
  • Total time: 1 hour 10 mins
  • Yield: 4 servings

Ginger Peanut Salad Dressing

  • 1/3 cup white onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons tamari or soy
  • 1 teaspoon creamy peanut butter
  • 1.5 teaspoons ginger, minced
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  • 1/3 cup mild oil
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 2 teaspoons water, as needed
Instructions If using a blender (stick blender or regular) just mix it all together. If not, mince everything finely, add everything but the oil to a bowl and slowly stream in oil, whisking furiously. Sub honey for another sweetener to keep it vegan. Details Prep time: 10 mins Cook time: Total time: 10 mins Yield: about 1 1/4 cups