Turkish-Style Vegan Tofu Scramble (Vegan Menemen)

Turkish-Style Vegan Tofu Scramble (Vegan Menemen)

Soft and tender curds of tofu in a spicy tomato sauce. [Photographs: J. Kenji López-Alt]

During the week and a half that I spent in Istanbul, my sisters, my wife, and I must have eaten menemen—eggs scrambled with olive oil, onions, chilies, and tomatoes—at least a dozen times. Traditionally, it's made by slow-cooking onions and hot green chilies in olive oil in a sahan, a shallow, tin-lined vessel that doubles as a serving platter, until tender. They're then seasoned with dried chilies (commonly smoky-hot Urfa peppers) and oregano, then stewed with tomatoes until nice and saucy. The eggs go in at the last moment and are cooked until just barely set. Because it has so many strong flavors and a texture that's easily captured with silken tofu, it works incredibly well as a vegan breakfast.

Why It Works

  • Layering flavors into the same skillet results in a more complex finished dish.
  • Soft tofu is an excellent stand-in for softly scrambled eggs.
  • Yield:Serves 4
  • Active time: 20 minutes
  • Total time:20 minutes
  • Rated:

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons (45ml) extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1/2 teaspoon (about 2g) crushed Urfa chilies (see note above)
  • 1/4 teaspoon (about 1g) dried oregano (optional)
  • 1 small onion, finely diced (about 3/4 cup; 4 ounces; 115g)
  • 3/4 cup finely diced shishito, padrón, or Chinese green long peppers (4 ounces; 115g)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup chopped peeled ripe fresh tomatoes or drained canned tomatoes (4 ounces; 115g)
  • 1 (14- to 16-ounce; about 400g) block soft silken tofu
  • Chopped fresh parsley, to garnish
  • Bread, for serving

Directions

  1. 1.

    In a medium nonstick or cast iron skillet, heat olive oil over low heat until barely warm. Add Urfa chilies, oregano (if using), onion, and peppers. Season with salt and a very generous amount of black pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until very soft, about 8 minutes. Add tomatoes and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until deepened in color, about 5 minutes longer. Remove half of mixture and reserve.

  2. 2.

    Add tofu and season with salt and pepper. Cook, folding gently, until tofu is heated through and broken into large curds. Gently fold in reserved vegetable mixture. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and serve with bread.