Sunday, April 25, 2010

General-ly speaking about tofu...

I happen to be a fan of tofu. I know there are many (MANY!) people who aren't but I find it to be a versatile, easy ingredient which can be used in a lot of ways. Usually I make stir fried veggies with sauteed tofu, which is good, and I have even made desserts with it, which was a lot of fun! I had a block of tofu sitting in my fridge which I really wanted to use for dinner tonight, but I didn't want to make my usual stir fry. So I went foodgawking... Using the search feature, I looked for listings using tofu. As is usually the case, I found a bunch of interesting looking recipes. But then I found just what I was looking for...
Hubby and I love Chinese food. We have a local Chinese restaurant from which we get take out pretty much whenever I really don't feel like cooking. (Which, granted, isn't that often, but still...!) One of the reasons this particular restaurant gets out whole-hearted approval is that it has a great selection of vegetarian and mock-meat dishes. And they have been willing to make mock versions of meat dishes that aren't already on the menu. One of our treat dishes is Mock General Tzo's Chicken. So when I found this recipe for General Tao's Tofu I knew it would be dinner.
Of course, I had to make some substitutions. I didn't have green onions in the house, so I used one small (yellow) onion. I also do not keep fresh ginger in the house. It just wouldn't get used. So I used dried ginger powder. I also don't have white wine vinegar... So I used some white vinegar and some red wine vinegar. Then came the substitution I was not expecting to make... Apparently I ran out of soy sauce and never thought to get more... I found a few packets from the Chinese take-out we had gotten a week ago, and I used teriyaki sauce for the rest... Phew... So I guess I can't really say I made this exact recipe, but I tried!
I started by frying the tofu. This step, while not difficult, or even new, really, was the one I was kind of nervous about. I always feel like my fried tofu doesn't turn out right. Not crispy enough or something... But the light flour coating really helped, as did using a little more oil than I usually do. The tofu cubes turned a beautiful golden color and had a great crispy crust.
Then came the sauce. While it took a little more prep than I had anticipated, it really came together quickly and easily. (Really, if I had thought about it before I started, I would have prepped the sauce ingredients before starting the cooking process. That would have made this come together even more quickly and easily!) After the sauce was made and the tofu was simmering in it, I did a little test-taste. I found the sauce to be a little sweeter than I had expected. So I added some "Oriental Stir Fry" seasonings I had on hand. I wish I knew what all was in it, but I don't. It is a premixed spice blend I got as a gift. But it is very good, and it helped to balance the sweetness.

I served the tofu with brown rice and steamed broccoli. Hubby and I were very pleased with the results! He teased that next time he wanted Chinese food he would call me to place his order. I would like to play with the sauce recipe, using a little less sugar and maybe using a few more of the ingredients it actually calls for! But this is definitely a keeper!

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