Speaking of different…

This was supposed to be a post about the empanadas my best friend Kelly and I made when she visited a few weekends ago, but it’s not. It also could have been a post about Pati’s Mexican Table and all the yummy food she made and how beautifully charming the Mexican Cultural Institute in DC is, but…it’s not. (Those posts will come, though, don’t you worry.)

Instead, I bring you something different. Something completely different.

You know what I’ve discovered the past three-odd weeks that I’ve been a full-time working woman?  It’s not always fun to cook when you come home at 6:30 or 7. Sometimes you just want a glass of wine and dinner to appear magically, you know? And sometimes on the weekends, you’re tired and feeling lazy and don’t really feel like cooking. Luckily, quick meals that still taste good actually do exist, and sometimes their inspiration comes from a cafeteria in one of the House of Representatives office buildings. Like I said, completely different.

Everyone say a big thank you to B. for this one – he’s had it at the cafeteria in his building, and I most definitely would never have tried it if not for his high praise. Its main ingredient is something I’ve never, ever cooked and something I’ve only eaten once and absolutely hated: tofu. And guess what else? This whole meal took 30ish minutes from start to finish. Boom.

It’s spicy, it’s Chinese-y, it’s healthy, and it’s quick-y. What’s not to love?

   

Sweet and Spicy Chili-Glazed Tofu
adapted from here

  • 1 lb or 1 block extra firm tofu
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or, if you discover you only have about 1/4 cup sugar left, you could also use agave nectar)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tablespoons chili garlic sauce (we used Sriracha!)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons neutral tasting oil
  • 1 1/2-inch to 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely diced
  • Salt to taste

Rinse and drain tofu. Slice into 1-inch cubes. Pat with cloth or paper towels to remove excess water. Set aside.

In a small bowl, mix together sugar, water, chili garlic sauce, and vinegar.

In small pot or pan, heat 1 tablespoon of oil. Add ginger and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds.  Add the sugar-chili-garlic mixture. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until glaze thickens to syrup-like consistency, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat up a large skillet (or a wok if you happen to have one). Coat the bottom with enough oil to cover evenly. Add tofu and stir-fry until the outsides start to turn golden brown, about 15 minutes. Don’t worry too much about getting each and every side of tofu golden, but try to ensure at least 2 of the sides are golden. Remove from heat and toss with sweet chili glaze. Serve with rice, and garnish with chopped peanuts, scallions, or cilantro, if you like. I would also recommend you serve it with a quick sauté of fresh ginger, a few tears of kale, and a touch of rice wine vinegar.

Don’t worry, the next post from us will almost definitely be Mexican.
Until then,

Kara

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