25 January 2010

Kale and Tofu with Peanut Sauce

Also: How Not to Cook Tofu

I've attempted kale with peanut sauce a few times, with less than stellar results. I initially resolved to use a recipe this time, but after finding about a million different recipes for peanut sauce and zero that sounded like what I wanted, I decided to make it up again. This time, the peanut sauce was excellent! Yay for experimentation!

In my recipe search I found one that recommended frying the tofu into crispy bites first, then lowering the heat and adding the onions to the same pan, then adding the sauce and vegetables. It was a disaster – the tofu completely fell apart, so that at the end there were tofu crumbs throughout the dish, making it look a little like vomit. Despite the unappetizing appearance, it was delicious. I will definitely use this peanut sauce again! Here's what I did:

In a bowl, combine the following:
One can coconut milk
A little over a cup of peanut butter
A little under ¼ cup soy sauce
Juice of half a lime
about a teaspoon grated ginger
one or two teaspoons chopped cilantro
a few shakes of cayenne powder
Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking.

Slice one block of tofu into bite-sized wedges. Coat the bottom of a pot with high-heat oil and place on medium-high heat. Add the tofu and tend carefully, hoping it will get nice and crispy. Begin to fret when the tofu all sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add more oil, turn frequently, and watch in horror as the bottom of the pot becomes covered in a white tofu coating. Decide it won't get all crispy-fried and add one diced onion, one diced Anaheim pepper, and three cloves of chopped garlic. Lower heat and stir very gingerly in the pan, trying not to break the tofu into ever-smaller pieces. Once the onion is soft, pour in the peanut sauce. Add one bunch of kale, chopped, and a large handful of sliced mushrooms. Stir occasionally while the kale cooks down. Observe that the tofu has completely disintegrated, and give up trying to preserve any of the larger pieces. Serve with brown rice.

This ended up being nicely spicy and flavorful. Next time, I will just stir the tofu in at the end. If you want to use the fried tofu idea, I bet it would work if you had a better-quality non-stick pan. After frying, you should probably remove the tofu to a separate plate, and add it back in at the end so that it doesn't fall apart.

This is when I knew I had made a terrible mistake with the tofu:

And this is the final product (I have got to figure out how to take better food photos in our dim kitchen):


  1. om nom nom!! I like the way the sauce sounds!

    What kind of tofu were you using? It looks like it might be silken? The best way I've found to fry tofu is to start with firm or extra firm and slice it up into the size you want, then dry it for a while on paper towels (or dish towels, whatever!) it needs to be very dry for it to not fall apart. Then, when you are frying it, you have to keep it on one side for a while, so it forms a crust before flipping it. I usually just buy pre-fried because I am lazy! ;)

  2. I love this blog...bring on the foods! This is mel, but I can't remember how to sign in... :(

  3. I used silken tofu, but it was extra firm. I tried pressing it between two plates (with cans on top) before frying - I have no idea where I heard that tip, but in this case it obviously didn't work. I will try your advice next time!

  4. I like dry frying tofu. It develops a crust that's not too crunchy, but keeps it intact. Slice into half inch thick wedges, add to a dry non-stick pan on low-medium heat, pressing with a spatula periodically. Be patient! Flip and do the whole thing again. You may have to do it in batches to give the pieces space in the pan. This is Makeda, BTW.