I was never a huge fan of tofu - until I went to Laos. Laos shares a border with Vietnam, and the authentic Vietnamese cuisine you can find in Laos is not only sold on every street corner (mostly Pho soup, especially in Xiangkhuong province) but it is the most delicious food you have actually ever put in your mouth. While in Viantiane, we visited a tiny hole-in-the-wall Vietnamese restaurant, and they brought out the most simple fried tofu dish, served mildly seasoned with red chilis and a simple soy sauce to dip. I have never tried anything so delicious. Crispy and mild on the outside, chewy on the inside, and subtly spiced. I dream about this meal - to this day. Arriving back on Canadian soil I had to re-create this tofu... and I must say - I've got it down. Since perfecting my recipe... I have been making this dish at least once per week. The crispy tofu pairs perfectly with the quinoa, and tossing the veggies in the leftover oil from shallow-frying the tofu makes for the most amazing bok-choy you have ever tried. This recipe is so easy, so addicting, and non-vegetarians love it just as much as I do. I am a tofu-convert. You can be too - trust me.
Crispy Sesame Tofu Quinoa Bowl
- 1 shallot
- 5 cloves garlic
- 1 package of medium firm tofu (non GMO if possible)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- red chili flakes
- 1 lb of baby bok choy
- 10 mushrooms, sliced
- 1 & 1/4 cup of Quinoa
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- Sea Salt
- Soy Sauce (to taste).
- Preheat oven to 450F.
- Thinly slice tofu into medium-thin slices (just under a centimetre; or the width of your pinky finger). You will need to remove some of the moisture from the tofu. I will tell you my technique - which is a bit odd, but works well. Lay out paper towel on your counter top. Lay out the sliced tofu on top of the paper towel. Place another layer of paper towel on top of the tofu. Place a cutting board on top of the paper towel that is covering the tofu. Then place a heavy object (such as a large book or two) on top of the cutting board. Leave for about 10 minutes. This will get rid of some (a lot) of the moisture, which will leave your tofu the perfect consistency for shallow frying.
- While tofu is sitting - mince both the shallot as well as the cloves of garlic. Wash and slice mushrooms & bok choy.
- Place cornstarch inside a large ziploc bag. Place dried tofu into bag, shake until all tofu is well covered.
- Heat both oils (combine) in a large stove-top pan. Add shallots and toss for a few moments. Piece by piece, add tofu. Allow to sit in hot oil for about 3 minutes. Turn all tofu pieces over, and add garlic to pan at this point (you do not want to add garlic earlier as it burns easily in oil). Fry on other side for about 3 minutes.
- Transfer tofu to a baking dish. Make sure that shallots and garlic are also transfered on top of the tofu. Sprinkle with hot chili flakes and salt (about 1/2 teaspoon) Place in hot oven. Set timer for 6 minutes. After 6 minutes, you will turn over tofu and cook for an additional 6 minutes.
- While tofu is cooking, bring 1 1/4 cups quinoa and 1 cup vegetable broth and 1 cup water to a boil in a medium size stove-top pot. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium-low and cover the pot with a lid. Be sure to stir frequently.
- In the same pan used to shallow-fry the tofu, cook mushrooms for about 4 minutes, and then add bok choy. Toss frequently, add a little soy sauce per your liking.
- Serve tofu in a bowl with quinoa and bok choy. We like to sprinkle soy sauce on the quinoa and tofu for a little extra kick.
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