Thursday, April 8, 2010

Baked Sweet and Sour Tofu

The baked egg rolls were a certified hit. And I did get ambitious enough to make a half batch of homemade sweet and sour sauce to go with them. I will totally be making this combo again, it was fantastic and nearly all made from scratch - yet still EASY.

It's funny how I gravitate towards asian foods in the spring. Looking back at last year's blog posts from this time shows similar meals. Anyways, I kept thinking about that leftover sweet and sour sauce in my fridge and realized I could make a homemade version of that old Chinese restaurant standby: sweet and sour tofu (or chicken).

I marinated the tofu while I walked around beautiful Lake Hiawatha this sunny April evening. The marinade is the same simple but delicious sauce that went into those egg rolls - soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger, and garlic. And instead of frying in oil, I baked the tofu to make the meal more healthful. The tofu was so flavorful from the marinade and had a great texture from baking at high heat - not as crunchy as fried, but still firm with a nice chewiness.

In Chinese takeout, you always get a side of steamed broccoli with your sweet and sour chicken or tofu. I NEVER think to steam veggies, I'm a little too enamored of grilled or roasted veggies usually. But my mom made a gigantic batch of fresh steamed carrots for our Easter lunch. And the sweet pure flavor of those carrots was so spring-like that I'm all about the steamed veggies right now. So I steamed up some carrots and broccoli, drained them when cooked, then added a pat of butter and some salt and pepper.

Baked Sweet and Sour Tofu (or Chicken)
1 package extra firm tofu (or 1 pkg chicken cutlets)
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1 Tbsp sesame oil
1 clove of garlic, grated on microplane
1/2 inch fresh ginger, grated on microplane
sweet and sour sauce (either homemade or store bought)
some type of cooked whole grain (I used quinoa, but brown rice would be good too)
steamed veggies, such as broccoli and carrots
2 scallions, sliced

Cut tofu or chicken into bite sized pieces and add to a large Ziploc bag. Add soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic, and ginger, seal bag and shake so all the tofu is coated with the sauce. Let sit for at least 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. I lined my baking sheet with parchment so the tofu wouldn't stick. Layer tofu on single layer and bake for 12 minutes. Flip tofu or chicken pieces and bake another 12-15 minutes or until browned (or cooked through in the case of chicken).

Serve on top of your cooked whole grain. Top with heated sweet and sour sauce, garnish with scallions, and serve along side steamed veggies and (of course) a nice wine of your choice.

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