Some of my favorite meals are simple. They are often not the meals that I choose to serve to guests, I guess the show off comes out in all of us sometimes…. or lots of times, however, simple is so important to a majority of what I cooked when I first started cooking…. and before I started trying to show off in a blog ;-). As Little Sis and I have been writing the Baby Steps series, we have discussed that there are recipes that are ideal for people just getting into cooking. These are SO important, because biting off more than you can chew can discourage further cooking… but hopefully not further eating. I have written about sauces in the past because they are the difference between Blah and Bingo! And Bingo will help you and your family stick with some healthier recipes.I much prefer “Bingo!” to “Do I really have to eat all of this?”
So while preparing a delicious, but not overly simple recipe from Amanda at Good Clean Food I was so impressed with the tofu marinade that I knew it was destined for other uses besides the Gingered Greens with Tofu that she shared. And if I lost you at the tofu, fear not…. what you choose to marinade or stir fry is between you, your doctor and the animals in your life 😉 Although I will say that tofu gets a bad rap with folks who’ve never tried it, the truth is that it takes on the flavor of what it is cooked in, AND there are ways to change it’s texture if you don’t like it as is (see notes at the bottom).
So do check out the recipe above…. and do check out this marinade because it is very simple and I’m going to add just afew ingredients to it the second (or third time around to make a VERY easy stir-fry.
The marinade is (from Amanda as mentioned above and based on a Moosewood recipe):
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup dry sherry or mirin (I used sherry)
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 Tbs brown sugar or agave nectar (I used brown sugar)
Mix the ingredients and bring to a boil. You might make extra because it is very useful!
You can use it to marinate and then cook meat or tofu and you can used it as a simple stir-fry sauce with or without one or more of the following ingredients:
almond butter or peanut butter
minced or pressed garlic
oil for cooking
Sauteed the greens according to directions and we had a fabulous meal one night. One so good that I am serving it to my family on vacation on one of my nights to cook.
Several nights later I put a little sesame oil, 1 clove of minced garlic and about 2 tsp of grated ginger in a pan, sauteed the veggies I had on hand, added some of the marinade sauce – add 1/4 cup and then taste, (people can always add more as a condiment), cooked rice noodles and voila meal number 2.
Lastly, I wondered if the sauce could stand on it’s own for a stir fry. Of course I couldn’t quite leave well enough alone, so I added about 2 Tbsp. of almond butter to the next batch of stir fry veggies and the sauce. I started with a little safflower oil, sauteed, added almond butter and again about 1/4 cup of sauce… give or take – it depends on how many veggies you are using.
Unfortunately, our camera broke and I don’t have a picture of this last variant in the bowl, just in the pan, but the combo of peppers (I do love my peppers), cabbage, broccoli and carrots worked with the sauce. It was very tasty and some of us added a little more sauce to our bowl, and some did not. Preparing this took only a little longer than it took to chop the vegetables. I didn’t even use rice…. just lots of cabbage, a versatile but easy sauce…and we had a rootin’ tootin’ good time around here!
Now for the tofu challenged. I buy extra firm tofu, freeze it, thaw it the day of and squeeze out the excess water. This can be done over the sink by hand or by placing the tofu in a colander, over a plate (for the drainage) and placing a small plate and a heavy can on top of the tofu and letting it sit. Freezing and squeezing gives the tofu a heartier texture and makes it a little more porous so it can absorb sauce.
And if you’ve never used fresh ginger – it also can be frozen and then easily grated. I have a microplane that I love – but any small grater will do.