My version of this sweet & sour green bean tofu stir fry turned out on the sweeter side, because I happened to use unbelievably sweet tangerine juice instead of the orange juice I specified below. Either way is fine, but the nice thing about this recipe is that you can adjust the sweetness of the sauce by reducing the agave nectar, or varying the type of juice you use. (You can also increase the heat of the sauce by bumping up the chili garlic paste).
What I particularly liked about how this dish turned out is the consistency of the tofu. For years, I made tofu stir fry recipes that resulted in soft, crumbly tofu that did nothing for the dish. Now, I never fail to press the tofu, a simple process that takes just a few minutes unattended, removing excess water, and yielding a chewy, concentrated texture when cooked.
My method for pressing tofu is as follows: Remove the tofu brick from the package and place it in a wide, shallow soup bowl. Next, put a dinner plate face up directly on top of the tofu. (Make sure the tofu is centered in the bowl and that the plate is centered on the tofu). Then, fill a kettle up with water and center it on top of the plate. Set the arrangement aside and let it sit for about ten minutes. (You can prepare vegetables for the stir fry in the meantime). Remove the kettle and plate and dump out the water that has been released from the tofu. Flip the tofu over and do the same thing on the other side for another 10 minutes or so. This releases a good amount of water so that your tofu, whether you’re roasting or sauteing, will have a firm, chewy consistency. I know there is a fair variety of tofu presses available, but that’s one kitchen gadget (for now at least) I’m trying to avoid. And, I feel this solution is working pretty well for me. For a long time, I often didn’t bother pressing tofu, and now I find it’s an essential step in any tofu dish!
In this recipe, once the tofu is pressed and sliced into cubes, you’ll brown it in a small amount of vegetable oil to give it a golden crust and firm texture.
- 1 t vegetable oil
- 1 medium yellow onion, medium dice
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 14-oz package extra firm tofu, pressed and drained, cut into ¾" cubes
- 1 large red bell pepper, sliced into strips (about 2 cups)
- 4 c green beans, rinsed, ends trimmed, cut into 2 inch pieces
- 2 c mushrooms, sliced
- 2 T rice vinegar
- 1 T agave nectar
- ¼ c orange juice
- 4 T soy sauce
- ½ t chili garlic paste
- 2 t corn starch dissolved in 2 T water
- In a large non-stick pan, heat vegetable oil over medium heat. Add tofu cubes in a single layer and don't stir. Cook about 4 minutes until tofu starts to sizzle and turn golden brown. Flip cubes to continue browning the other side. Overall, cook tofu 7-8 minutes, flipping one or two more times so the cubes turn golden on several sides.
- Add onion and garlic to the tofu. If pan is too dry, add a tablespoon of water. Saute the onion and garlic with the tofu about 3 minutes. Add in bell pepper, green beans and mushrooms and continue to saute, stirring occasionally about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are cooked through.
- While the vegetables cook, combine rice vinegar, agave nectar, orange juice, soy sauce and chile paste in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil. Add corn starch mixture and stir over low heat for about 3 minutes, or until mixture thickens.
- When the vegetables are done, pour sauce over the vegetables and stir to combine.