Eventually, I flipped to the tofu section of Deborah Madison’s “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” (Broadway Books, 1997). There, embedded in her recipe for Golden Tofu, was the secret: a nonstick pan, and strict instructions not to touch the tofu as it seared. “Let it cook undisturbed while you do something else,” Ms. Madison wrote. I knew immediately that all my disastrous crispy tofu trials were the result of a stainless steel pan and too much anxious poking and prodding.
 Naked Tofu With Cold Sesame Soba Noodles
Adapted from Susan Simon of Suechef, Hawthorne, N.J.
Total time: 25 minutes
- 8 ounces soba noodles
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons rice-wine vinegar
- 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon smooth peanut butter
- 1 teaspoon chili paste with garlic
- 1-pound package firm tofu, drained and cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 3 scallions, chopped.
1. Cook noodles according to package directions until they are tender but firm. Drain and rinse under cold water and refrigerate in a bowl of cold water until almost ready to serve.
2. Toast the sesame seeds in a toaster oven (watch carefully, because they burn quickly).
3. Combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, brown sugar, peanut butter and chili paste.
4. To serve, drain the noodles well and combine with the tofu, most of the sesame seeds and most of the scallions, reserving a little for topping. Stir in the sauce; spoon into serving bowl and garnish with remaining sesame seeds and scallions.
Yield: 4 servings.
Note: A 1-pound package contains water and about 13 ounces of tofu.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 420 calories, 15 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 885 milligrams sodium, 25 grams protein, 55 grams carbohydrate.
 Ma-Po Bean Curd
Total time: 15 minutes
- 1-pound package firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
- 1 teaspoon canola oil
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coarsely grated ginger
- 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 4 ounces lean ground pork?
- 2 minced scallions
- 2 to 3 teaspoons chili paste with garlic
- 2 teaspoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
- 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
- 2/3 cup no-salt-added chicken stock (plus a little extra).
1. Drain tofu and cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
2. Heat oil in nonstick skillet and saute ginger and garlic for 30 seconds. Add pork?, stirring to separate pieces and cook about 1 minute to brown.
3. Add the scallions, chili paste, soy sauce, sesame oil and chicken stock? and stir well. Add the tofu and stir in gently; cook, uncovered, over low heat about 5 minutes. If necessary, add a little more stock. Serve over rice.
Yield: 2 servings.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 420 calories, 25 grams fat, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 300 milligrams sodium, 40 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrate.
Total time: 30 minutes
- 1/4 pound extra-lean ground beef?
- 1/2 pound chopped onion 1 large clove garlic, minced
- 1/2 jalapeno, minced 2 teaspoons pure chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 of a 1-pound package of soft tofu, drained and mashed
- 3/4 pound ripe fresh tomatoes
- 10 medium Greek, Italian or French olives, pitted and chopped
- 1/4 cup dry red wine
- 1/8 teaspoon salt Freshly ground black pepper
- 4 9- or 10-inch flour tortillas
- 4 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
- 4 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
- 4 tablespoons chopped cilantro.
1. Saute ground beef? in its own fat in a large nonstick pan until it is brown and crumbled. Set to the side of the pan.
2. Saute the onion, garlic and jalapeno until the onion begins to soften.
3. Stir in the chili powder, cumin and tofu and continue cooking.
4. Cut the tomatoes in quarters and squeeze out some of the seeds and juices. Dice and add to the pan. Stir the beef back into the other ingredients and add olives, wine, salt and pepper. Continue cooking until the liquid has been absorbed.
5. Heat the tortillas in a toaster oven.
6. Mix together the yogurt and sour cream.
7. When the tortillas are warm, arrange 1/4 of the beef filling down the middle of each one and top with 2 tablespoons of the yogurt-sour cream mixture and 1 tablespoon of cilantro. Roll up and serve.
Yield: 4 tortillas.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 295 calories, 11 grams fat, 25 milligrams cholesterol, 360 milligrams sodium, 14 grams protein, 35 grams carbohydrate.