In order to get back on track after a couple of weeks of slacking off, Ellie and I went to the grocery store on Tuesday. We filled our cart with a ton of fruits, vegetables, and other healthy snacking options. By Thursday, I realized the only problem with how we shopped was the fact that we didn’t really have any actual, concrete meals, unless we wanted more salads. I’m not bashing salad—it’s always a decent option—but sometimes I look for something a little bit more filling.

On Thursday I decided to put on my culinary hat and venture into the world of vegan cooking with tofu. I waded through the vast quantities of hippy, drug-induced recipes and finally came across a recipe at vegweb.com . I settled on apparently the site’s most popular recipe, General Tao’s Tofu. I’ve always had a soft spot for Chinese food, but ever since Ellie’s gluten-free period and our general avoidance of meat, we’ve typically stayed away from it.

The recipe looked pretty good, and we had nearly all the ingredients needed. Ellie only had to pick up a few things at the store and was finished shopping by the time Audrey and I walked over to meet her.

Cooking with tofu is actually on our bucket list for the year. We want to learn how to really do it well. I feel like a lot of people are turned off by it because it isn’t the easiest thing to cook with. I can reaffirm this sentiment based on yesterday, though I did learn a few things.

What it was supposed to look like

What it actually looked like

I think I did several steps in the process almost correct . . . but not 100 percent right. First, I really don’t think I should have cooked that much tofu (I used the whole container). I think I ran into major issues at the first step of breading the tofu in corn starch, which crisps it up. I was working with too much material, and it was getting to be quite a mess. Along the same lines, when I cooked it, I think I should have let it fry a bit longer and really firm up better. I took it off the heat when the first pieces were turning golden brown, when in reality every side of every piece needed to be that way.

My sauce turned out decent, though it didn’t have the same thick, syrupy texture. My sauce was closer to the crap you would get out of a frozen bag of chinese food from the freezer isle at the grocery store.

Overall, with the shortcomings accounted for, it still tasted pretty good. The flavors were all there, and it was actually a pretty good dinner. Now that I’m a little more confident with the materials, I am looking forward to another round of cooking with tofu.

The Recipe, Taken from VegWeb.com

Ingridients

1 (12 ounce) box firm tofu, in 1″ cubes (frozen and thawed, if desired)
1 egg equivalent (e.g., EnerG Egg Replacer), prepared —- We used a real egg, we aren’t that hip.
3 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons water, divided
3/4 cup + 1 tablespoon cornstarch, divided
vegetable oil for frying + 3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided
3 green onions, chopped
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2/3 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon sherry, optional
red pepper, to taste
steamed broccoli, to serve

Directions

1. Mix the egg replacer as specified on the box and add an additional 3 tablespoons water. Dip tofu in egg replacer mixture and coat completely. Sprinkle 3/4 cup cornstarch over tofu and coat completely. Watch out that the cornstarch doesn’t clump up at the bottom of the bowl.

2. Heat oil in pan and fry tofu pieces until golden. Drain oil. Heat 3 tablespoons vegetable oil in pan on medium heat. Add green onions, ginger, and garlic; cook for about 2 minutes. Be careful not to burn garlic.

3. Add vegetable stock, sugar, soy sauce, vinegar, sherry, and red pepper.

4. Mix 2 tablespoons water with 1 tablespoon cornstarch and pour into mixture stirring well. Add fried tofu and coat evenly.
Serve immediately with steamed broccoli over your choice of rice.