Sesame Tofu with Broccoli and Shiitake Mushrooms


Serves 4

I had a craving for this dish ever since I picked some up at Mrs. Greens a few weeks ago.  I don’t always feel so great when I eat prepared foods, so I decided to whip some up myself.  It’s also a great addition to this week’s pre-race menu.  (My husband is running the NYC half-marathon today.)

A word on tofu – as a vegetarian, I hated it.  Tofu always meant substitution for animal protein and it was always poorly cooked and presented, always bland and utterly boring.  Then I moved to Japan.  What a revelation!  Tofu was enjoyed by everyone as a regular part of their diet.  It came in numerous textures, eaten a variety of ways; fried, in soups, salads, fermented.   Tofu was often showcased, like fine cheeses are here in the U.S.  Their flavors were each different but subtle and lovely.
So, though none of the packaged tofu here comes close, I have decided to give it another chance, but it had to be delicious.  In this recipe, it is!

Nutritionally, tofu is cholesterol-free and low in saturated fats.  It is a high quality protein.  It supports colon health and is good for those who have high blood pressure.  It’s also a great source of calcium especially, but also iron, phosphorous, potassium, essential B vitamins and Vitamin E.

You’ll need:

14 oz firm or extra firm tofu
1/4 C cornmeal* (approx)
1/4-1/2 C organic canola oil (for frying tofu)
2-3 T sesame oil (+ more for sauce, see below)
3 T sesame seeds, lightly toasted
1-2 scallions, finely sliced
8 large shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
1 large bunch broccoli, cut into medium sized florets

For the sauce:

1/4 C honey or agave nectar
2 T tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
2 T sesame oil
2 T rice wine vinegar
1 T mirin
2-3 T fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t red pepper flakes (or more if you like a lot of heat!)

To make:

1. Drain tofu and wrap in 2 clean kitchen towels.  Place between 2 cutting boards or plates and place a bit of weight on top to help remove water.  Let sit/drain for 20-30 minutes.

2. Toast sesame seeds lightly in a skillet over low heat.  Take care not to burn!  These little seeds have a way of being forgotten!

3.  Cook the veg:  Add 1 T sesame oil to pan and cook mushrooms until tender.  Remove from heat and set aside.  Add remaining oil and broccoli and about 1/4 C of water, cover and let steam for 5 minutes until the broccoli is a beautiful, bright green color.

4. Stir sauce ingredients together and simmer sauce over low heat until it thickens.

5. Remove towels from tofu and cut into 1″cubes.  Dredge in cornmeal and fry in skillet with canola oil until golden brown.

6. Toss the tofu into the sauce and let cook for a few more minutes.  Remove tofu with a spoon to serve.

7. Serve tofu with vegetables and drizzle remaining sauce over veggies.  Sprinkle with sesame seeds.  (I like to serve over short grain brown rice, but it’s also delish as is!)

8. Enjoy!

*You can also use cornstarch to dredge the tofu though I prefer the cornmeal for a crunchier texture.