Tofu Bell Pepper Stir Fry will wake up your taste buds with a delicious marinade, gorgeous char on the tofu and a combination of bell peppers and onions. Perfect on its own for a gluten free meal, or serve over rice
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Up until about 3 years ago, you couldn’t pay me to eat tofu. I’ve always been a huge texture eater, so the thought of eating something spongy like tofu wasn’t even remotely in my brain. My first taste of tofu was at a restaurant–fried, of course. It was pretty good, but I still had no plans to make it at home. My parents are vegetarian, so the only time I ever had it in my fridge was when they came to visit. And even when they made it, I still usually ate chicken instead.
The great thing about this blog is that it has expanded my horizons in terms of food. I’ve become much more adventurous, and have found that I like foods I never thought I would. Tofu is 100% one of those foods. I ate it at restaurants, but still held off against trying it at home. About a month ago I did my first tofu recipe, Crispy Pan Fried Tofu. I figured you can’t go wrong with anything fried, and I was right.
WHAT IS TOFU?
Tofu is made of condensed soy milk. It originated in China, and is used predominantly in Asian and vegetarian cooking. Tofu is high in protein, iron and calcium, and low in calories. There are several different varieties of tofu, beginning with texture. Silken tofu has a very smooth texture, and works well for creamy and blended foods. Regular tofu is more dense, and has a spongy texture. Within each texture, you can choose from soft, medium, firm, extra firm, and super firm.
I quickly learned that super firm regular tofu is the only way to go for me. Anything less than super firm is much too spongy for my tastes.
Fried tofu is delicious, and is a perfect snack. But I also knew that I wanted to branch out and try some different recipes. Pinterest is my go-to for recipe inspiration, and there are hundreds of tofu recipes. After a lot of searching, and some inspiration of my own, I created Tofu Bell Pepper Stir Fry
Tofu Bell Pepper Stir Fry is really good. Tofu is completely bland, so the marinade is critical. And this marinade adds a wonderful combination of flavors to the tofu. The marinade is a very simple mixture of Hoisin Sauce and Soy Sauce, plus sugar, fresh ginger, garlic, and Red Pepper Flakes. I also add Sesame Oil to the marinade. Sesame oil is powerful, and a little goes a long way. I used to use pure sesame oil, and never used more than about 1/4 teaspoon, regardless of the recipe. I recently switched to regular sesame oil which is much more mild, so I can use more. Of course it’s personal choice, but remember…once you add the sesame oil you can’t tone it down!
HOW TO PREPARE TOFU FOR COOKING
Tofu comes in a plastic tub, soaking in liquid. The liquid keeps the texture, but you have to remove as much liquid as possible before cooking.
- Remove the tofu from the tub, and discard the liquid
- Cut the tofu into bite-sized pieces. I usually cut them into 1/2″ – 3/4″ pieces
- In a plate or flat bowl, lay several paper towels. Add the tofu pieces on top of the paper towels, and then add 2 more paper towels on top
- Place a heavy pan or brick on top, and press down
Typically tofu is ready after a 30-minute press. But because I marinate the tofu for this Tofu Bell Pepper Stir Fry, I press for 50 minutes. After 25 minutes I change out the paper towels because they are completely soaked through.
NOTE: the tofu in Tofu Bell Pepper Stir Fry will NOT get crunchy. Tofu just doesn’t do that on its own. However, I love the char that develops on the outside of the tofu from the stir fry. The longer you stir fry, the deeper the color and flavor. And that’s never a bad thing! I use a large Nonstick Skillet for my stir fry. I stir fry the onions first, then add the peppers. Once the peppers are soft, I remove the whole mixture and then add the tofu so it can stir fry by itself. When the tofu is done, I add the peppers back in.
I have to be honest, I never thought I’d be excited about making tofu at home! But between my Crispy Pan Fried Tofu and Tofu Bell Pepper Stir Fry, I most certainly am. I’ve already made this Tofu Bell Pepper Stir Fry numerous times. And I’m looking forward to discovering more ways to cook with tofu.
Adapted from Spicy Southern Kitchen
SHOP THIS RECIPE
- 1 package Extra-firm tofu
- 1/4 cup Hoisin sauce
- 2 Tablespoons lite soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon sugar (I use Splenda)
- 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
- 1/2 Tablespoon butter
- 1/2 cup yellow onion, sliced
- 1/2 cup red bell pepper, sliced
- 1/2 cup green bell pepper, sliced
- 1 Tablespoon avocado oil
- sliced green onion, for garnish
Remove tofu from packaging, and discard liquid. Cut tofu into 1/2" - 3/4" pieces. Lay paper towels in large plate. Place tofu pieces on paper towels, and top with more paper towels. Take heavy pot or brick, and press down on tofu. Allow water to press out for 50 minutes, changing out paper towels after 25 minutes
Add hoisin, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, garlic, red pepper flakes and sesame oil to bowl. Transfer pressed tofu into bowl, toss to coat. Marinate for 30 minutes, and drain excess marinade
While tofu marinates, melt butter in large skillet. Add onions and a pinch of salt, and cook slowly over medium-low heat for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally, until golden. Add bell peppers, turn heat to medium, and stir fry for 10 minutes, tossing occasionally. When peppers are soft, remove peppers and onions and set aside
Add avocado oil to skillet, and turn heat to medium-high. Add tofu and stir fry. Make sure to leave tofu alone for 3-4 minutes at a time before tossing, so char and deep color can develop. After about 10 minutes, return peppers and onions to skillet, and stir fry for another 2 minutes
Serve over rice, and garnish with green onions