Seared Tofu with Soy-Maple Sauce
Truthfully, I’m not much of a tofu eater. Aside from a few Korean dishes I grew up with, I wasn’t much of a fan. It’s pretty much a blah, flavorless protein, and I was equally blah, agnostic about it. But I guess it would be more accurate to say that I WASN’T much of a fan. Because I’ve been going crazy about tofu lately. More specifically, Seared Tofu with Soy-Maple Sauce.
As previously mentioned, we’ve kicked up our clean-eating efforts due to my husband’s condition. I won’t rehash it, mostly because that post has been bombarded with health-related spams. And I don’t want the same fate for this post. I HATE spammers! But he is progressing quite well. 🙂 I will post the specifics of our program in a couple of months if this progress continues. Anyhow, we had to cut down our red meat and poultry consumption as a part of this effort. This meant increased dependence on other proteins. Consequently, we are now eating more tofu, as well as other plant-based proteins.
This particular tofu dish, which is my husband’s favorite tofu dish, is made with one of my most oft-used sauces. I use this sauce with meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, and even eggs! If I want to use this as a dipping sauce or a glaze, I usually simmer it separately to thicken it. But for tofu, I just cook it right in the pan along with the tofu.
It is so darn easy to make. And you can use any excess sauce for steamed or sautéed vegetables. That’s what I did this week. I served the tofu on a bed of water-sautéed spinach and drizzled the excess sauce right over the tofu. It was so yummy, and I didn’t have to use a separate sauce for the spinach. It was absolutely perfect.
Seared Tofu with Soy-Maple Sauce Recipe
Serves 2 people
8 – 10 oz tofu, cut into thick rectangular pieces
2 TB maple syrup
2 TB tamari (gluten-free soy sauce)
2 TB mirin
1 TB sake
1 TB water
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1/4 tsp fresh ginger, grated
*Please see Cook’s Note Below for substitution suggestions.
- Stir together maple syrup, mirin, sake, water, vinegar, and tamari in a bowl and mix well.
- Slice the tofu into thick rectangular pieces. Dab with paper towel to remove excess water.
- Heat a pan over medium-high heat. Add oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Lightly salt the tofu on each side. Sear the tofu on both sides. Once seared, LOWER the heat. Pour the sauce from step 1 over the tofu. Toss (flip) the tofu a few times to ensure that each piece is well coated. Once the sauce foams and becomes thicker, remove from heat. Plate the tofu and pour the excess sauce from the pan over the tofu. Garnish with chopped scallions and toasted sesame seeds if desired.
If you are trying to lower your sodium intake, use low-sodium tamari (soy sauce). I used low-sodium tamari for this recipe. It was plenty flavorful for my palate.
If you don’t have maple syrup, you can use honey instead.
If you don’t have rice vinegar, you can use balsamic vinegar instead. Balsamic is surprisingly good when mixed with tamari (soy sauce).
If you don’t have Asian rice wine, you can use soju or dry (pale) sherry. Additionally, if you are cooking for kids, you can substitute the alcohol with a broth or stock. But if you decide to use broth instead of alcohol, try using balsamic vinegar in place of rice vinegar. You can experiment, but I preferred balsamic with the broth-based sauce. Please keep in mind that if you don’t use mirin, the resulting sauce might be a bit runnier. This is due to the sugar that is in mirin, which helps to thicken the sauce.
Keep in mind that your sauce will get a bit thicker as it cools. So remove the pan from heat when it is slightly runnier than you’d like. Additionally, you can add a small splash of water if the sauce gets too thick. Your sauce will get thicker the longer you simmer.
As stated above, you can use the sauce as a glaze or a dipping sauce. Just heat the sauce ingredients separately in a saucepan until it thickens to your liking.
If you like lots of sauce on your food, make more!!!