Stir-Fry with Asparagus, Crispy Tofu, and Maple Syrup

I don't know that I've mentioned it before, but I have had a hard time with tofu.  Eating it, I mean.
It's only really been something on my radar within the last 3... 4 years?  Every time I've tried it, it's been meh, and bleck.  Determined not to give up, we tried once more.  Great news: I loved it in this recipe!  I think the lesson that we learned is that I like it when it's crispy on the outside, and creamy on the inside.  So, we used soft tofu and a new technique and voila! Delicious!  It helped that the stir-fry had asparagus and maple syrup, two of my favorite ingredients. :)

The recipe is a combination of a couple different recipes from (you guessed it) Cook's Illustrated.  So helpful.  Love them.  Here's the modified recipe: 

Stir-Fried Asparagus with Tofu, Soy Sauce, Maple Syrup, and Scallions
Serves 4-6.
Served over rice, if desired. 

Ingredients
Stir-Fry
     1 1/2    tablespoons soy sauce
     1 1/2    tablespoons maple syrup
     1           tablespoon water
     2 1/2   tablespoons peanut oil
     1 1/2    pounds asparagus, tough ends snapped off and cut on the bias into 1 1/2-inch pieces
     3          medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed through a garlic press
     2          medium scallions, white and green parts, sliced thin on the bias
Crispy Tofu
     2          (14 ounce) blocks medium-firm or soft tofu (We used soft!) diced into 1-inch pieces
     1          cup cornstarch
     1/2      cup cornmeal
     Salt and ground black pepper
     3/4      cup vegetable or peanut oil

Directions
For the tofu:
  1. Spread the tofu out over several layers of paper towels and let sit to drain slightly, about 20 minutes.  Adjust an oven rack to the middle position, place a paper towl-lined platter on the rack, and heat the oven to 200 degrees F.  
  2. Place a wire rack over a baking sheet and set aside.  Toss the cornstarch and cornmeal together in a shallow dish.  Season the tofu with salt and pepper.  Working with a few pieces of tofu at a time, coat them thoroughly with the cornstarch mixture, pressing on the coating to adhere, then transfer to the wire rack.  
  3. Heat the oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering.  Carefully lay half of the tofu in the skillet and cook, turning with a spatula until crisp and golden on all sides, about 4 minutes.  (This movement is similar to stirring/folding gently, not individually crisping each side by picking it up and turning it over.)  Using a spatula, gently lift the tofu from the oil, letting any excess oil drip back into the skillet, and transfer to the prepared platter in the oven.  
  4. Repeat with the remaining tofu pieces and let them drain briefly on the prepared platter.  Keep warm in the oven.  

For the stir-fry:
  1. Mix the soy sauce, maple syrup, and water together in a small bowl.  
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, nonstick heavy-bottomed skillet over high heat until almost smoking.  Add the asparagus and cook, stirring frequently, until well browned, about 5 minutes.  
  3. Clear a space in the center of the pan , add the garlic, and drizzle with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon oil.  Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds, then mix with the asparagus.  Add the appropriate amount of warmed tofu from the oven into the skillet and mix.  
  4. Add the soy sauce mixture and toss to coat the asparagus and tofu.  Cook until the sauce is syrupy, about 30 seconds.  Sprinkle with the scallions and serve immediately, over rice, if desired. 
Yum yum yum!  I hope you make this!  If you do, let me know how it goes!

Comments

  1. Yum! I can't wait to try this! I've been a vegetarian for some 13 years now, and while I enjoy tofu these days, I didn't so much in the beginning, you're right, it can be hard to prepare!

    -Lady Fromage
    http://ladyfromage.blogspot.com/

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  2. Ky is this good for a bunch a guys?? I need to make dinner! Is it good if I substitute it with meat

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  3. Enj,
    Sure! I thought it was very very good. If you were going to substitute meat, I'd go with chicken or pork. Maybe grill or pan-fried? If you served this with egg rolls or wontons (frozen) and/or some kind of soup (egg drop?) it'd be great!

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