I had never tried pan frying tofu before. There was something about this moist, soft creature and a pot of oil that intimidated me. I also somehow felt that frying tofu entailed a lot of oil, something which in my mind defeated the purpose of eating tofu in the first place. I did, however, so love lightly fried tofu, braised or stir fried in a myriad assortment of sauces. I was finally emboldened by this post.
In this recipe, I did use a good hard anodized pan and used more that the tablespoon of oil, but not a whole lot more. I think the key to getting this right was actually the blotting of the tofu. The vegetables in this dish, pack a lot of good flavor from a light spark from the ginger and the woody softness of the mushrooms folded into the wilted spinach.
Prep Time: 45 minutes (mostly to let the tofu drain)
Cook Time: 30 minutes
For the tofu
- 1 pound of extra firm tofu
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 to 3 tablespoons of oil
- For the base
- 3 plus 2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
- 2 shallots minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 cup sliced white mushrooms
- 2 tablespoons white wine or water
- 2 cups of baby spinach leaves
- 2 fresh or 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered or chopped into a large dice
- ½ teaspoon red chili powder
- 1 teaspoon agave
- Salt to taste
- Cut the tofu into 2 inch pieces, place on a plate and sprinkle with the salt and set aside to release water for about 20 minutes.
- Blot the tofu gently but thoroughly to absorb as much water as you can.
- Add the oil for frying on a large hard anodized skillet and heat for 1 and a half minutes on medium heat.
- Carefully place the tofu in a single layer, the tofu starts heating up and makes spluttering sounds. Leave the tofu undisturbed for 5-6 minutes before turning. Carefully lift a piece to see that the tofu has formed a golden crust. Cook on the other side for another five minutes.
- Remove the tofu and place on a plate, or add to the spinach mixture and toss.
- While the tofu is cooking, add the 3 tablespoons of oil in a separate pan and heat for a minute of medium heat.
- Add in the shallots and the cumin seeds and cook on medium heat until the shallots wilt and begin to turn golden.
- Add in the ginger and sauté well.
- Add in the mushrooms and stir well. Add in the two additional tablespoons of oil and the white wine or water and cook for 3-4 minutes.
- Mix in the spinach leaves, the tomatoes and red chili powder and the agave.
- Cook for 2 minutes, until the tomato begins releasing its moisture.
- Stir in the salt if using and gently fold in the tofu and serve hot.