Lightly breaded and pan-fried tofu bites with sweet bell peppers smothered in a tangy and spicy sauce. Szechaun Tofu and Peppers, served with steamed brown rice, is a healthy and nutritious dinnertime favourite.
Lord Byron’s Kitchen is no stranger to tofu. It’s one ingredient that I can prepare for my vegetarian family and enjoy myself without feeling like I’m missing the protein factor of a carnivorous meal. I’ve posted a few tofu recipes to this blog over the past few years, but for some reason or another, have forgotten to post one of our favourites.
Easy to prepare, fast and simple, Szechaun Tofu and Peppers packs a punch in terms of flavour and healthy eating. Even though tofu is not favoured among the masses – I personally think it’s the name: tofu; it does not invoke feelings of comfort or home-cooked food – we love it in our home.
Tofu, which is made from soybean curds, is naturally gluten-free and low calorie. It contains no cholesterol and is an excellent source of protein, iron, and calcium. It is an important source of protein for vegans and vegetarians. And, in my opinion, it’s a great alternative to meat especially when moving toward a plant-based diet.
Another really cool thing about tofu is that it is so freaking cheap! I can purchase one 14 ounce block of tofu, the extra firm type, which is the ONLY type I will buy, for about $2. So, in making this recipe, which will provide a rather large helping for all three of us, I spent about $4 on the protein! Compare that price to steak or chicken for three people and I’m sure the price would be significantly different.
Now, I know tofu is not for everyone, but has everyone given it a chance? I’m not a fan of tofu at all when I don’t cook it myself. Take for example a Chinese take out menu. John.e loves his tofu and veggie platter with noodles from our favourite Chinese restaurant, but I don’t care much for the tofu part. I know for certain that they use a silkier tofu, not an extra firm tofu. And, I think in most cases, that’s why people turn down their noses at the thoughts of eating tofu.
If you purchase the extra firm tofu, you’ll not regret it. Here’s what I always do. First, I’ll remove the extra firm tofu from its package and wrap it – like a present! – in layers of paper towel. Then, I will lay the wrapped tofu on a cutting board and gently press with my hand until I feel the paper towel getting wet. Flip over the tofu and press again.
By doing this, I’m releasing liquid from the already firm tofu to make it even more firm. Then, as in most of my tofu dishes, I will lightly fry, grill, or bake the tofu to get rid of more moisture and to add a favourable texture. This allows me, the meat-eater, to enjoy a vegetarian dinner with my family. You gotta try it!
And, just for easy reference, here are some of my other tofu recipes for you to enjoy – all using extra firm tofu and my non-so-secret little paper towel pressing method. You’re welcome! 🙂
- Vegan Hungarian Goulash with Tofu and Potato
- Tofu Black Bean Tikka Masala Bowls
- Greek Tofu Skewers with Tzatziki and Feta Crumble
- Old El Paso Tofu Taco Bowls
- 2 14-ounce blocks extra firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
- 3 heaping tablespoons corn starch
- 1 red bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 green bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 orange bell pepper, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1-2 tablespoons sesame seeds, plus more for garnish
- 1/4 cup green onions, sliced, plus more for garnish
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated
- 1/4 teaspoon dried chili flakes
- 1 tablespoon dried onion flakes
- 2 tablespoons chili sauce
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- Start by making the sauce. In a small saucepan, add all of the sauce ingredients and whisk together.
- Over medium heat, bring the sauce mixture to a low boil. When slightly bubbling, remove from heat and set aside.
- Next, coat the tofu pieces in the cornstarch by adding them to a bowl and lightly tossing them with your fingertips. Be careful to not break up the tofu pieces.
- Over medium-high heat, add the olive oil to a large skillet and add the tofu bites gently - allow the excess cornstarch to fall off the tofu bites before adding them to the skillet.
- Use metal tongs to turn the tofu every minute or so to ensure all sides are lightly browned. This cooking process should take about 6-7 minutes.
- Once cooked, remove the tofu from the skillet and transfer to a glass bowl.
- Next, add one tablespoon of sesame oil to the skillet and toss in all of the peppers. Season the peppers with the salt and pepper. Don't overcook the peppers. Saute them for about 4-5 minutes in the hot skillet. You want there to still be a nice colour and a bit of crunch when you're finished the cooking process.
- Add the tofu back into the pan and pour in the entire contents of the sauce mixture.
- Using silicone or rubber spatulas, lightly toss all of the ingredients together.
- Add the sesame seeds and the green onions. Toss once more until well combined. Allow the skillet to simmer for 2-3 minutes until the sauce and tofu are heated through.
- Serve immediately. Top with more sesame seeds and green onions for garnish.
- Great with steamed brown rice!