It’s funny. Some of the easiest things to make can sometimes be the hardest. Case in point: rice. People have been cooking rice for thousands of years. It is a staple crop and a foundation for meals for hundreds of millions of people around the world. And damned if I can only make it well once out of every two tries.
I mean, I could always get a rice cooker, that could gauge the temperature and weight of the rice, and take all the chance out of my hands. But I already have so many kitchen appliances. And I only make rice so often.
Instead, I just stick to my saucepan and cook according to the instructions on the bag. In fairness, the rice for this recipe turned out perfectly — for the first night. It was only reheating the grains the next day that took the fight out of my rice, and caused them to turn soft.
As for the recipe itself. It was a hit. Good flavors in the stir-fry and — as with most stir-fries — it comes together in a flash. The carrot-wasabi soup calls for wasabi paste (obviously). All I had on hand was wasabi powder, which ended up being a little overpowering. The adjustment is in my version of the recipe below.
Sesame Tofu Stir-Fry With Brown Rice and Carrot-Wasabi Soup
Sesame Tofu Stir-Fry adapted from MyRecipes.com and Ginger-Carrot Soup adapted from The Best Cookbook Ever.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
WHAT TO GRAB:
SESAME TOFU 1 teaspoon sesame seeds 2 teaspoons black sesame seeds 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, divided 1 (1-pound) package firm or extrafirm tofu 2-4 teaspoons sesame oil 2 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps 1 1/2 cups of asparagus slices asparagus (about 1 pound) 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions 1/4 cup vegetable broth 2 tablespoons hoisin sauce 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce 2 cups cooked long-grain brown rice (see recipe below) CARROT-WASABI SOUP 2 pounds carrots 1/3 cup olive oil 1/3 cup rice vinegar 1 tablespoon sesame oil 2 teaspoons mirin 3 tablespoons fresh ginger, peeled and coarsely chopped 1 tablespoon wasabi paste (or 1 teaspoon wasabi powder) Kosher Salt 2 tablespoons black sesame seeds 1 sheet nori-seaweed, cut into matchsticks
HOW YOU DO IT:
1. Rinse one cup of brown rice in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Bring 8 cups water to a boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. Add the rice, stir it once, and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Pour the rice into a strainer over the sink.
2. Let the rice drain for 10 seconds, then return it to the pot, off the heat. Cover the pot and set it aside to allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover the rice, fluff with a fork, and season with salt.
Sesame Tofu Stir-Fry
3. Drain the tofu and cut it into one-inch cubes or 1/2-inch thick triangles. Place the tofu between sets of paper towels. Place a large pan on top of the tofu to allow the towels to soak up the water on each end. Dry for about 20 minutes.
4. Dry-fry the tofu. Heat a griddle or cast-iron skillet over medium-low heat. Do NOT add any oil to the pan. Cook the tofu, frequently pressing each piece with a spatula, to help drain any excess water. Once one side has browned, flip the pieces and repeat until the other side has fully browned. About 5 minutes a side.
5. Combine sesame seeds and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large bowl. Add the tofu cubes; toss gently to coat. Heat the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu; stir-fry 5 minutes or until tofu is golden. Remove tofu from pan; keep warm.
6. Return pan to heat and add additional oil if needed. Add mushrooms; stir-fry 3 minutes or until mushrooms begin to brown. Add asparagus; stir-fry 4 minutes or until asparagus is crisp-tender. Reduce heat to medium; stir in green onions.
7. Combine broth, hoisin sauce and soy sauce. Add broth mixture to pan and cook over low heat until it reduces, about 1 to 2 minutes. Add tofu and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt; toss gently to combine. Serve over rice.
8. Preheat the oven to 375. Split the carrots lengthwise and cut crosswise into one-inch pieces. Toss the carrots in a bowl with 2 tablespoons oil Roast in a single layer for 15 minutes.
9. Transfer the carrots to a blender or food processor and add 2 to 4 tablespoons of olive oil. With the machine running add 2 cups of water 1/2 cup at a time and process until mixture is smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the vinegar, sesame oil, mirin, ginger, and wasabi. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
10. Refrigerate if serving cold. Otherwise, garnish with sesame seeds and a drizzle of olive oil, and serve right away. You can also garnish with seaweed sticks.