Weeknight Soy Sauce-y, Peanut-y Tofu

By Nicholas Day
March 3, 2014
32 Comments


Author Notes: A very simple but very forthright tofu stir-fry. The key is not to fuss with the tofu too much (that and to press the tofu if possible). It'll brown far better if left unmolested. About the peanuts: a traditional Chinese recipe -- which this in no way is -- would use raw peanuts. If you want that slightly legume-y taste, use that; if you want the more American taste of roasted peanuts, use that. The leftovers here are splendid, which is why I use a couple blocks of tofu. Nicholas Day

Serves: 4, generously

Ingredients

The Tofu Part

  • 2 blocks of tofu, extra firm or firm
  • 2 onions, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
  • 3/4 cup unsalted peanuts, whole or halved, roasted or raw (see above)
  • Cooking oil

The Sauce Part

  • 3/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Shaoxing wine
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon molasses
  • A touch of lemon or lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted sesame oil

Directions

  1. If you have time, press the tofu. (Place it under a weighted cutting board for a half-hour, letting the liquid run off or get absorbed by paper towels.) Dry it off. Then slice it into small cubes, in the 1/2-1-inch range.
  2. In a wok or a large frying pan, heat a tablespoon of the oil on medium-high. Then add the onion and saute, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Scrape it out of the pan and reserve for later.
  3. While the onion is browning, stir together the sauce ingredients. Taste. It should be sweet and salty and a little bitter, too. Adjust until the flavors are aligned to your taste. You might want more molasses or more Shaoxing wine; you might need a squeeze or two of lemon or lime for more acidity.
  4. When the onion is done, add a couple tablespoons of oil to the wok or pan and increase the heat to high. Add the tofu and immediately toss it with the hot oil. Then leave it alone. Let it sit for a few minutes, longer than seems wise. Once the tofu begins to brown, stir it to brown the remaining sides. It should take around ten minutes total. A minute before it is done, add the ginger and briefly saute it. Then spread the browned onions and peanuts on top and add the sauce. Gently stir, so that everything soaks in the sauce, and let the liquid reduce for a few minutes. Reduce until the sauce is as thin or thick as you like. Then turn off the heat, drizzle the sesame oil on top, and serve.

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Reviews (32) Questions (1)

32 Comments

AntoniaJames January 22, 2018
I recently discovered Andrea Nguyen's tip, in her banh mi cookbook, to pour boiling water over tofu in a bowl, letting it sit for 15 minutes before using, to firm it up. I tried that last night, cooking the tofu cubes without even pressing them dry, in a non-stick skillet with just a touch of sesame oil, and over medium low heat, just leaving the cubes alone for a good long while. The edges crisped up beautifully. You could actually see the moisture from the cubes evaporating, due to the change in structure caused by the boiling water soak. You get a lovely custardy, flavorful interior. In the words of the late, great Judy Rodgers, "Try this." ;o)
 
ariane B. September 2, 2016
so good. just what i needed on a friday after a long week with some wine
 
mika March 26, 2016
Is it posibale to switch the Shaoxing wine with something else?
 
Stephanie G. February 3, 2016
I topped mine with some watercress. Delicious!
 
Christina B. December 3, 2015
I second a question that's already been posted but not answered: how much tofu is "two blocks"? A weight measurement is so much more useful. Tofu comes packaged differently in different parts of the country.
 
jbfalise December 6, 2015
I made this with 2-16oz packages and it turned out fine.
 
susan G. July 29, 2016
This has been a problem in recipes, as I have cookbooks that define a 'block' as anything from 1.5 lb to 4 oz, or don't specify.. Even in the age of industrialized tofu in the US, the one pound water sealed tubs are shrinking to 15 or 14 oz. Yes, be specific!
 
jbfalise October 31, 2015
I learned a trick years ago with frying tofu: coat it with some corn starch to prevent sticking and it gives a pleasant crispy exterior too. You can also add seasoning to the coating (I like Chinese 5-spice).
 
jbfalise December 6, 2015
Update: I've made this a couple times but only used about 1/4-1/3C of reduced-sodium soy sauce and topped off the rest with broth. I found this to be a tastier and less-salty alternative.
 
[email protected] February 11, 2015
The tofu jus completely stuck to he pan, which always happens to me. Never magazine. From now on I will always roast my tofu in the oven to avoidmhisnhideous mess.
 
emcsull February 12, 2015
this has been on my mind for a while. How do you roast the tofu, how long, what temperature, in a chunk or already cut in pieces ? Thanks for your help !
 
Rachel C. January 21, 2015
I questioned the amount of soy sauce this recipe calls for, so I cut the soy sauce to 1/2 cup instead of 3/4 cup; however, the end result was still inexplicably salty. The contrast in textures in this recipe is great, but I will cut the soy sauce to 1/4 cup the next time I make this recipe and see how that goes.
 
S. R. January 17, 2015
Just out of curiosity what type of molasses would you suggest. I have never cooked with it but recently bought some date molasses and I have black strap tha I used for baking...
 
emcsull October 27, 2014
just made this, delightful, a bit pungent have to fiddle with the sauce a bit. <br />While browning the tofu it crumbled somewhat and left crust in the wok, is that to be expected ?
 
Alyssa K. June 4, 2014
I made the same mistake as bletart1. Wayyyy tooo salty.
 
bletart1 June 3, 2014
Sorry, I misread the recipe and only used 1 package of tofu. The second package must dissipate the salt.
 
bletart1 June 2, 2014
OMG, salt city. Let me go check my blood pressure. <br />
 
steff V. May 11, 2014
Wouldn't cooking that sauce make it bitter with that lemon/lime juice cooking?
 
AntoniaJames May 12, 2014
That's a good question. I have detected bitterness, but thought it was due to the blackstrap molasses I use. Next time I'll try adding the lime juice at the end (as one typically would). ;o)
 
JW April 2, 2014
So delicious. The toddler loved it too (as he did the coconut dal a few weeks back): "Yummy tofu. And peanuts! Peanuts!"
 
Shirley B. March 30, 2014
How much tofu is two blocks?
 
[email protected] March 25, 2014
This looks delicious and I am going to try, but the picture looks like you are serving it over something. Is that served on rice, or is that just how it turns out?
 
AntoniaJames March 19, 2014
I made this last week using baked (plain) tofu that I had on hand. (I often bake tofu cubes at the same time that I'm roasting vegetables or baking bread. It's handy, no patting dry or pressing is necessary, and there's no spitting oil.) I substituted cashews for the peanuts. We liked it, a lot. Next time, I plan to use shallots instead of the regular onion. I'll definitely be making this again. Thank you. ;o)
 
Author Comment
Nicholas D. March 21, 2014
Oh, excellent. Happy to hear this!
 
AntoniaJames March 21, 2014
Making it again this weekend, in fact. We could live on this. My slacker-Mom trick is to put the cooked tofu in sauce into a warm bowl and into a warm oven, then slosh a couple tablespoons into the skillet and give it a quick stir, then turn the heat up fairly high, plop a half dozen tiny bok choy that have been halved lengthwise, cut size down, and immediately put a lid on it. I cook it for no more than a minute or so, shaking occasionally. Meanwhile, I plate the sticky tofu over brown ric. By the time that's done, the bok choy is steamed. I swish it around to get up as much sauce as possible, and then onto the place with the rice and tofu it goes. Dinner! Life is so good. ;o)
 
AntoniaJames March 21, 2014
That should have been, "slosh a couple tablespoons of water" . .. . ;o)
 
emcsull February 2, 2015
I have been meaning to ask for ages - how bake tofu, how long, with any liquid, how ?
 
Teri L. March 19, 2014
Shaoxing wine is Chinese rice wine. Dry sherry can be substituted.
 
Horto March 18, 2014
where do we get that odd wine?<br />what can we sub for it?