Cast Iron

Hoisin-Lacquered Tofu with Broccoli

August 13, 2012
0 Ratings
  • Serves 2
Author Notes

As a mostly vegetarian with a serious love for Chinese food, I've spent years perfecting my favorite sauce for rice bowls. The thing is, chinese sauces are made for chicken and pork; on tofu, they often fall flat. But when I came across a recipe for Hoisin-Glazed Chicken in a friend's Food Network magazine, everything changed. The recipe was for a marinade, but it came pretty darn close to that perfect balance of sweet and savory that makes Chinese sauces so wonderful. It even called for my beloved, lip-numbing Szechuan peppercorns. Since my ideal Chinese sauce has ma-la qualities, I upped the peppercorns and added a dried Asian chile to the mix. I also reduced the honey. Over crisp-fried tofu and still-crunchy blanched broccoli, nothing tastes better.

Also, a note about light soy sauce. It's lighter than dark soy sauce, and it's traditionally used in marinating. Try to find Pearl River Bridge Superior Light, but if you can't find it, any Chinese light soy sauce will be great. It's not the same thing as low-sodium soy, though that will work in a pinch. Regular soy sauce will be way saltier than Chinese light, so if using that, reduce amount to 3 tablespoons. —Rivka

What You'll Need
  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • 1/4 cup grapeseed or peanut oil
  • One 15-oz. block of tofu
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns
  • 1 dried Asian red chile
  • 3 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
  • 1/4 cup Chinese light soy sauce (see headnote)
  • 2 tablespoons shao xing
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons honey
  • 8 ounces broccoli rabe, washed, trimmed, and halved crosswise
  • 2 tablespoons crushed toasted peanuts, optional
  1. Preheat the oven to 425°. Pour the rice into a small pot and cover with 2 cups water.
  2. Prepare the tofu: Gently squeeze the tofu to release some of its moisture, and lay it on one of its larger sides. Cut the tofu lengthwise into 4 and crosswise into 6. You should be left with 24 rectangular logs of tofu. Pat dry.
  3. In a large (8-9”) non-stick or cast-iron pan or (even better) a wok, heat the oil until it shimmers. Taking care to protect your arms, add the tofu to the pan in a single layer. It will splatter furiously, but it’ll calm down eventually. If you have a splatter screen, this would be a great time to put it to use.
  4. Fry that first side of each piece of tofu until golden, 3-4 minutes. Then turn the tofu pieces 180 degrees and fry the bottoms. The sides will gradually crisp up during cooking, but some pieces might need a third flip. When pieces are golden nearly all over, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. The whole thing should take around 10 minutes.(If using a wok, it'll take much shorter.)
  5. Cook the rice: Set the rice over medium heat and bring to a boil. As soon as it boils, cover the pan and transfer the rice to the oven. Set a timer for 17 minutes. When timer goes off, remove rice from the oven and set aside to cool for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork.
  6. Meanwhile, blanch the broccoli: set a saucepan full of water on high heat and bring to a boil. Add broccoli rabe and cook a scant 2 minutes, until bright green and still very crisp. Drain immediately and set aside.
  7. Finish the sauce: Mix the soy sauce, shao xing, hoisin, and honey in a small bowl. If there’s oil left in the tofu pan, drain all but 1 tablespoon. Heat on high until oil shimmers again. Add star anise, peppercorns, and chile; they should sizzle immediately. Cook 10 seconds, until fragrant, then add scallions, garlic, and cilantro and cook 30 seconds more. Add soy sauce mixture, stir to combine, and cook 2 minutes, until it starts to thicken. Add the tofu back into the pan, turn to coat with the sauce, and let cook for 2 minutes more. Don’t worry: the tofu will stay plenty crisp, but it will absorb the sauce and its flavor. Add blanched broccoli to the pan, turn to coat with the sauce, and cook 1 minute more. If you can find the star anise pod, fish it out. Otherwise, warn your eating companion.
  8. Serve: Portion rice into 2 bowls. Spoon tofu and broccoli over rice, and finish with a few spoonfuls of the reduced sauce and a sprinkle of crushed peanuts, if using. Serve immediately.
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I'm a healthcare consultant by day, food blogger by night, and I make a mean veggie chili. I'm eat a mostly-vegetarian diet, but have a soft spot for meat, especially braised short ribs. And this profile wouldn't be complete without an admission that I absolutely am addicted to cookies and chocolate. Finally, I love the idea of food52 and can't wait to share and read my and others' favorite recipes!

9 Reviews

luvcookbooks October 7, 2013
After many failed attempts to make tofu enticing, I tried this recipe and my family ate it all and wanted more! Frying the tofu gives it more texure and it also looks more porous and seems to soak up the sauce better than unfried tofu. Also, I like the name-- "lacquered" has such a nice word feel. Thanks!
brigitte M. April 30, 2013
Just made this and it was *stellar* -- the only thing I didn't have on hand (nor had ever heard of!) was the shao xing -- so I substituted mirin and will get shao xing on my next trip to the asian grocery.

Also -- a trick for frying the tofu > dredge it through corn starch before adding it to the oil and it greatly reduces the spatter without really changing the flavor.

Thanks for the recipe, Rivka -- I'll absolutely be making this again. I was wondering if you'd ever tried this recipe for black pepper tofu:

I really loved it, as well!
Rivka April 30, 2013
So glad you liked it! It's one of my favorites. And that black pepper tofu is high on my to-make list - I'll count this as yet another endorsement of the recipe. Will have to try it soon.
Rivka October 2, 2012
A timid request - I think a couple people tested this recipe a while ago for the tofu contest. In the interest of bettering this recipe (either tweaking ingredients or changing/clarifying instructions), would love to hear what didn't work about it. I've made it a few times since and really enjoyed it. But one of the the great things about Food52 is the opportunity to improve my cooking by putting it through the paces of this experienced crowd. If anyone has made this and either a) struggled with the instructions or b) thought it needed some tweaks, please share! Would love some constructive feedback.
Rivka August 18, 2012
So...whoops! I called for 2 cups water for the rice when it should only be 1 1/2. Can't mess with Amanda's foolproof formula from the NYT cookbook. Sorry about that!
healthierkitchen August 14, 2012
Rivka, this sounds delicious! My daughter will love this!
Rivka August 15, 2012
Thanks, healthierkitchen. It's one of the few preparations for tofu that are genuinely better without meat.
aargersi August 14, 2012
Lacquered! Love!!!
Rivka August 14, 2012
I couldn't resist - isn't it so shiny?!