I have many friends who are vegetarian and vegan, and tofu (as well as its related soy products) plays a big part in their diet. I myself eat cubes of the stuff a few times a month, and have grown from having a begrudging acceptance of it to a true appreciation of its subtle flavor. I most often sear cubes of extra-firm in vegetable oil before adding it to stir-fries; though efficient, it's not always the most exciting preparation.
In The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, Deborah Madison adds far more flair to her tofu dishes. This particular stir-fry employs a sweet and hot blend of spices to add interest to the seared tofu, as well as a rich and brilliantly yellow pot of coconut rice on which to serve it. A generous squeeze of lime juice is crucial, adding zippy brightness and moisture to each bite.
Why I picked this recipe: I needed to re-boot my tofu repertoire.
What worked: The spiced tofu was great, but the big winner here is the coconut rice. Don't skip it.
What didn't: You'll want to stir-fry the tofu on a lower heat than you'd usually use for a stir-fry to prevent the sugar from burning. Shoot for somewhere between medium and medium-high.
Suggested tweaks: Sliced yellow onions work in place of scallions if that's what you've got at home. If your family is full of big tofu-eaters, you'll want to double what the recipe calls for. Cook it in two batches to avoid crowding the skillet or wok.
About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer and personal chef living in Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, KQED's Bay Area Bites, SFoodie, and Berkeleyside NOSH. She blogs at Cooking Wolves. Follow her @KateHWiliams.