Sunday, April 11, 2010

Asparagus, Tofu, & Orange Stir Fry

Usually around June I suspect that I start to turn a slight shade of green from all the asparagus I eat all spring long. I just love it and find it to be a very versatile vegetable, standing up to many cooking methods and holding its own in a variety of ethnic dishes. Asparagus grilled simply with some olive oil and sea salt is my go-to summery side. I'm not sure I've ever used it in a stir-fry though and so gave it a shot. Unsurprisingly, it was delicious.

This dish came together quickly and didn't require much preparation or cooking time. I bought the tofu and asparagus but had a random can of mandarin oranges in the pantry, as well as the sauce ingredients, and the chives were freshly clipped from my garden. I served it with some frozen Whole Grain Mix that I defrosted in the microwave which made it a very complete meal.

The key to nicely browned tofu is two-fold: it needs to be blotted with lots of paper towels to remove excess water and then when it's cooking, don't mess with it too much so it can achieve that crusty golden glow.

For 2 Servings:

  • 12 ounces extra firm tofu
  • 2 tablespoons + 1 teaspoon canola oil
  • 2 cups asparagus, halved lengthwise and cut into 3-inch lengths
  • 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup Shao Xing cooking wine
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 cup mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives

Rinse the block of tofu under cool running water. Blot with paper towels. Slice lengthwise into 3 slabs and then cut each slab into 3-4 inch triangles. Set the triangles on a long sheet of paper towels, lay more paper towels on top and press down gently. Set aside.

Whisk together the hoisin, orange juice, soy sauce, and cooking wine. Set aside. In a wok or large non-stick skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is very hot, add the tofu. Cook, without touching it, until the edges are a nice golden color. Flip and do the same on the other side. With a spatula, remove the tofu to a bowl and set aside.

If needed, add the additional teaspoon of oil to the skillet. Add the asparagus and cook just until bright green and browned in spots but still crisp. Add the tofu back in and then pour the sauce over. Stir so that the ingredients are evenly coated for a minute or two. Turn the heat down to medium-low and gently stir in the oranges and red pepper flakes. Pour the cornstarch mixture over and cook, stirring, for another minute until the sauce has thickened.

Serve immediately, garnishing with the chives right before serving.

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