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Peanut sauce on everything
If you thought I might never feature a recipe with tofu in it, you were wrong! Here, now, a recipe for baked tofu with bok choy and, the star of any show in my opinion, peanut sauce.
I don’t eat a lot of tofu, but when I eat it, I want it to be absolutely filled with flavor, inside and out. It can be silky or fudgy or meaty or crumbly or firm or crispy, but I want it to be extra spicy or savory with soy sauce or maybe caramelized and a little sweet. Or, as in this, one of my favorite preparations, covered in a savory, salty, nutty sauce.
This recipe is from author and restaurateur Isa Chandra Moskowitz, who, my editor Joe Yonan says, “knows tofu better than almost anybody.”
Isa’s recipe has you drain and firm up the tofu in the microwave — a fun trick if you’ve never done it before — before brushing it with tamari and sesame oil and baking it on a sheet pan until it’s a little browned on both sides. Meanwhile, roast some bok choy. Then, make the peanut sauce, which is something I make so often I don’t even need a recipe anymore: Peanut butter, water, ginger, hoisin, lime juice, salt and red pepper flakes go into Isa’s version. It’s stirred together, and then when it’s time to eat, drizzled all over everything.
Photos by Tom McCorkle for The Washington Post; food styling by Lisa Cherkasky for The Washington Post
Baked Tofu With Peanut Sauce and Bok Choy
Do you have to use tofu? Nope! Make this with chicken breasts or mushroom caps the size of your hand, if you want. Stir-fry bits of meat or vegetables instead of roasting anything. Use kale leaves, which will get all crispy in the oven, instead of the bok choy. The only thing you need to make is the peanut sauce, which I promise you’ll love. (Allergic to peanuts? How about using sesame paste or sunflower seed butter instead of the peanut?) No hoisin? Use soy sauce or tamari. As you’re making it, taste it to see what it needs. More lime? A touch of honey? A squirt of hot sauce? Make it your own.
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Servings: 4 to 6
Active time: 20 mins
Total time: 1 hour
- 2 (14-ounce) packages extra-firm tofu, drained
- 2 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
- 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 3 heads baby bok choy (10 to 12 ounces), stems removed, leaves separated (may substitute large bok choy, torn into large pieces)
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3/4 cup smooth natural peanut butter
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup fresh lime juice
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1/4 cup hoisin sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish
- 1/2 cup thinly sliced scallions
1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.
2. Wrap each block of tofu in a clean dish towel, place on a large plate and microwave on HIGH for four minutes. The tofu will release much of its liquid. Unwrap and cut each block into 8 planks.
3. Place the tofu on a large, rimmed baking sheet and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil and the tamari, flipping the planks to make sure they’re well coated. Sprinkle with black pepper. Arrange the tofu slices in a single layer. Bake (upper rack) for 30 minutes, until the tofu starts to lightly brown. Flip the planks and bake them for another 20 to 30 minutes, until the tofu is deeply browned on the edges.
4. While the tofu is baking, add the bok choy to a second large, rimmed baking sheet, drizzle with the remaining sesame oil and sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bake (lower rack) for 20 minutes, until wilted.
5. Meanwhile, make the peanut sauce: In a blender or food processor, combine the peanut butter, water, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt, lime juice, ginger, hoisin and red pepper flakes and puree until smooth. Use additional water to thin the sauce, if necessary.
6. To assemble, divide the tofu and bok choy among plates. Drizzle with peanut sauce and sprinkle with scallions and red pepper flakes.
Adapted from “I Can Cook Vegan” by Isa Chandra Moskowitz (Abrams, 2019); Tested by Joe Yonan.
Nutrition information per serving (based on 6): Calories: 450; Total Fat: 31 g; Saturated Fat: 5 g; Cholesterol: 0 mg; Sodium: 510 mg; Carbohydrates: 14 g; Dietary Fiber: 5 g; Sugars: 8 g; Protein: 28 g.
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