Spicy Coriander Tofu with Caramelized Onions
the sauce I'm going to put on everything
I didn’t think I would be back to cooking so soon after last week’s fantastic event in NYC with Maggie Zhu of Omnivore’s Cookbook, but here we are! It was wonderful meeting some of you at the event - I truly appreciate your support and we loved seeing everyone enjoy our food.
I promised the good folks at the Yondu Culinary Studio that I would use their magical fermented seasoning in a recipe - and boy, is this one good! The spicy coriander-ginger sauce that forms the base of this recipe originally became an obsession of mine when I watched Season 1 of‘s Taste the Nation a few years ago. In the episode on Indian cooking called “Don’t Mind If I Dosa” - Madhur Jaffrey cooked chicken in this sauce and left my mouth watering. I tried a few different versions (as they didn’t spell out the exact recipe) on cauliflower instead but it wasn’t quite right. Until, drumroll.. I got to meet Madhur Jaffrey herself at a fundraiser for my favorite charity SACSS in NYC.
In a true fangirl moment, I bid on a signed copy of her An Invitation to Indian Cooking at the auction. And voila, the book has this exact recipe, with cauliflower, no less! It’s called Cauliflower with ginger and Chinese parsley (coriander or cilantro) in the book. My puzzle was finally solved.
In this dish, I adapt that sauce with a few tweaks (including a truckload of caramelized onions) to use with tofu to produce a manchurian-esque version that will be nothing less than addictive.
Speaking of tofu, I have come to dread both the process of pressing it and chewing the result (see my recipe for Turmeric and Black Pepper Tofu from last year where I had my aha moment!)
Now I feel vindicated, because in Maggie Zhu’s Chinese Homestyle, she addresses this burning question - To Press or Not to Press Tofu? Growing up in China where tofu was a common ingredient at dinner, she has never seen her mother or grandmother press it. Perfectly logical, she asks (and I paraphrase) - what is the point of having soft, firm, and extra-firm textures of tofu if you simply press the moisture out of everything to yield the same result? Let us celebrate texture! I have adapted the technique from her book of a quick marination and then pan-frying the tofu to get the perfect texture for this recipe. You can use either firm, extra-firm or super-firm tofu, depending on how you like it.
I use the Yondu seasoning in this recipe. It is a savory fermented sauce made of fermented soybeans and concentrated vegetable broth from 8 different vegetables. Use it simply in place of salt to add a depth of flavor to any dish - soups, stir-fries, and so on.
To substitute, use 1/2 tsp fine sea salt + 1 tablespoon warm water for every tablespoon of Yondu. You can also add a tablespoon of tamari or soy sauce to the sauce in Step 4.
Spicy Coriander Tofu with Caramelized Onions
1 [14oz/400g] block of firm, extra-firm or super-firm tofu
2 tsp cornstarch
2 Tbsp + 2 Tbsp Yondu, divided
3 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1.25 cups/200g finely diced onions
2 tsp finely grated ginger (I used a zester)
2 tsp grated or minced garlic
1 Indian green chili, diced (or jalapeno or Thai chile)
1 cup packed finely chopped coriander/cilantro (about 2 medium bunches - when in doubt use more)
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garam masala
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1.5 Tbsp lemon juice
Step 1 - Pat the tofu dry with paper towels and slice into 1-inch cubes. I got 32 cubes from my block, slicing into halves recursively. Alternatively, slice crosswise into 8 rectangles roughly 3/4th-inch thick.
Step 2 - Make a slurry out of 2 Tbsp Yondu (or water if not using Yondu) and 2 tsp cornstarch by mixing them together with a spoon until you get a smooth paste. Gently toss the tofu with your hands, taking care not to break the pieces in the slurry, to coat all the sides. I usually just dip each piece and make sure to get all the sides. Let sit for 10 minutes (you can use this time to chop the cilantro and onions if you haven’t already).
Step 3 - Heat a medium (10-inch) skillet over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon olive oil. Carefully transfer the tofu to the pan, using tongs if you have them. They should sizzle as they hit the pan. Fry undisturbed until visibly browned on the bottom (about 5 minutes), then turn each cube to brown on the other sides (I usually don’t have the patience to crisp all the sides equally and try to wrap this up in 20 minutes total). Transfer the crispy tofu to a plate lined with paper towels to absorb excess oil.
Step 4 - In the same skillet over medium heat, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil. When hot, add the onions and cook, stirring often, until golden-brown, about 10 minutes. Add ginger, garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add the turmeric, cumin, coriander, garam masala and black pepper and give it a quick stir. Add the remaining 2 Tbsp Yondu, cilantro, chiles, lemon juice and cook, stirring, until well incorporated and the sauce is thick, about a minute or two.
Step 5 - Add the tofu and toss to coat the cubes in the sauce. Cook until heated throughout.
Serve over the cauliflower jeera ‘rice’ from The Vegetarian Reset (page 41) for a low-carb meal, or with the whole grains of your choice. I would add a dollop of Greek yogurt or this raita to amp up the protein to ~30g per serving.
v8well Good Things
The produce gods are showering us with good things with June - it is so hard to pick for this list!
To listen - This conversation betweenand Dr. David Katz on the podcast Food with Mark Bittman eloquently addresses the inherent conflict (that shouldn’t exist) between body positivity and health, and of course, Ozempic.
To read - I’m a big fan of the Glucose Goddess and just got her new book, The Glucose Goddess Method, wherein she “moves in with you” to build a routine of habits to stabilize your blood sugar. These include eating a savory breakfast with lots of protein (recipes included), adding a veggie appetizer for every meal (count me in) and some fun mocktails with apple cider vinegar. I’m giving away a copy - details below!
Get your copy of The Vegetarian Reset now!
And if you already have it -
Join my cookbook group here on Facebook and share your pictures as you cook along from the book! You can also ask questions about recipes and I will help in any way I can.
Write an honest review for The Vegetarian Reset on Amazon or Goodreads and I’ll send you a copy of The Glucose Goddess Method! (US/UK/AUS/CAN only - subject to availability). Reply to this email to send a screenshot of your submission and claim your book.
PS: I’m moving to a bi-weekly publishing schedule this summer to get some time with family. Being a people-pleaser, you can be sure that each newsletter will be even more packed than usual! XO