Green Beans and Tofu Skins with Rice Sticks

Mark Bittman is my favorite food writer. I recently came across a 2007 column of his (I do miss the Minimalist) in which he ,very sensibly, talked about using more veggies and less noodles while cooking. So when I saw the vegan recipe he described, I immediately ordered tofu skins (which I’ve never cooked with) and rice sticks off the internet. Like all Bittman recipes, this one is a masterclass in simplicity of techniques and strength of flavors. I did double the rice noodles and added more soy sauce that he calls for. Simply fabulous! I bet this will be even better with haricot verts.

First boil some water and soak 4 oz of tofu skins (10 min) and 4-8 oz of thick rice sticks (20 minutes).

In a pan- heat 2 tbsp of regular oil and 2 tbsp of sesame oil. Fry up 2 tbsp of chopped ginger and 1-2 chopped green chillies for a few seconds. Add a pound of green beans (I used frozen) and cook covered for 10 mintues or so. Add tofu skins cut into strips if they are wide. Cook for 5 mintues or so covered. Add rice noodles and 2-4 tbsp of soy sauce. Taste for salt and pepper. Serve with chopped green chillies in vinegar.

Another Gen Tso Tofu

I do like Chinese American food, the sweet salty combination is very appealing. I’ve made many versions of Gen Tso’s tofu and this one may be my favorite. The sauce is adapted from a gen tso chicken recipe by Grace Parisi.

First crisp the tofu in your favorite way – today I pressed the tofu, diced it into 1 inch chunks and dredged it in 1 tbsp corn flour, 1 tbsp panko breadcrumbs and 1 tbsp sesame seeds. Then I pan fried the tofu in 1 tbsp oil till the tofu was browned all over. Air frying the tofu works well too.

In the same pan, add another 1 tbsp of oil, 1 tbsp of ginger and 1 tbsp of chopped garlic and 4 scallions chopped into 1 inch chunks. Add the sauce (1/2 cup vegetable broth, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp sugar, 1 tsp sriracha) till it starts to simmer. Make a slurry with 1 tsp of cornflour and 1-2 tbsp of water and add 1-2 tsp at a time till the sauce thickens.

Add the tofu and 1 tsp of sesame oil and toss.

Enjoy over rice

Japchae by Mangchi

So lately I’ve watched a lot of Maangchi- a Korean lady with a fabulous youtube cooking channel. Her videos are entertaining and educational- she cooks and talks just like grandma. Of course, Korean food is not known for its vast vegetarian options so when this potentially customizable one popped up- I was all on it. These noodles are very very different texturally- they are sticky and transperant and very chewy, not unpleasantly so but it was unexpected.

I had to order the sweet potato starch noodles from Amazon but I had everything else- well mostly. Here is Maangchi’s recipe and my version follows below.

Soak: 7-8 dried shitake mushrooms in 1/2 cup of warm water for 30 minutes. Soak 8 oz of the sweet potato starch noodles in cold water for 40 minutes

Protein: I used one block of frozen tofu (defrosted and squeezed and then crumbled). Marinate with 2 tsp soy sauce, 2 tsp brown sugar and 1 tsp sesame oil for 15-20 min and fry up in a non-stick pan till browned.

Egg garnish: Beat 2 eggs with some salt and make a small thin pancake on the same non stick pan on very low heat. Cut into strips

Seasoning sauce: 1/4 cup soy sauce, 3 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp black pepper and 5 garlic cloves minced.

Now assemble and chop:

In a large pan: chop the soaked mushrooms, 8 oz of crimini mushrooms chopped into strips, 1 large onion in slices, 1 large carrot into matchsticks. Toss all the vegetables with 1/4 cup vegetable oil and 1/4 cup water.

Add 8 oz baby spinach on top- do not mix, snip the soaked noodles with scissors (this is impossible prior to soaking) and lay on top- do not mix. Pour seasoning sauce over this (yes- do not mix). Add a tight fitting lid and cook for 10 mintues on moderate heat. After 10 minutes – stir well and cook for another few minutes till the water is almost all absorbed by the noodles.

Decant into a large serving platter, add tofu and egg strips. Add 1 tbsp of sesame oil and 1 tbsp of toasted sesame seeds.

Serve with sriracha if you wish.



Tofu and Cabbage Udon stir fry

I like stir fries – they are a fun, easy way to experiment with new flavors and textures.

This one needs a few speciality ingredients but I found all of them in my local Whole Foods

I tackle the stir fry prep first divided into veggies, protein, flavorings and garnish. This recipe is inspired from a Bon Appétit article

Veggies; half a small cabbage cut into big 2 inch or so cubes

Protein: Andrea Nguyen from Viet world kitchen talks up frozen tofu a lot – so I tried it. Freeze and defrost a block of firm tofu – it changes the texture amazingly – the water just drains out. Then crumble tofu into 1 inch or so jagged crumbles

Flavorings: 1 tbsp ginger, 1 tbsp garlic, the whites of 6 scallions and 1 tsp vegetable oil

Garnish: the greens of 6 scallions and 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds

Sauce: 1/3 cup mirin 1/3 cup soy sauce 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar and 1 tsp (or more) of sambal olek , 1 tbsp sesame oil

Boil a pot of water- add udon (14 oz) and cook according to package directions but a minute or two less. Cool immediately and drain

In a very hot non stick pan- add 1 tbsp of vegetable oil and cook the cabbage (tossing frequently) till charred in places and soft. Remove cabbage to udon bowl

In the same pan, add 1 tbsp vegetable oil and add the crumbled tofu with 1 tbsp corn starch just shaken over it. Cook over high heat till tofu is browned

Make a hole in the center, add the flavorings. Cook for 30 sec and then toss with tofu

Add cabbage, udon and sauce- coat noodles with sauce

Add garnish and serve with additional sambal olek

This is fairly nutritious and made about 5 servings for us (dinner and lunch the next day)

Gen Tso Tofu

Here is a  Gen Tso Tofu recipe that works. It’s modified from a purple carrot recipe. Gen Tso is not healthy (it has 1/4 cup of sugar) but it is delicious and divided into 4 portions- it is fine for an occasional treat. I served this on white rice

Step 1: Make crispy tofu: You can dredge pressed or dried tofu in cornstarch and fry or use my airfried tofu recipe 

Step 2: Make sauce: Mix 1/4 cup sugar, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice wine vinegar, 1 tbsp finely chopped garlic and 1 tbsp finely chopped ginger. Add 1-2 jalapenos sliced in half with the seeds removed

Step 3: heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil, add the tofu, add 3 scallions cut in half and chopped into large chunks (2-3 inches). Once the scallions wilt a little, add sauce, stir for 2-3 minutes till tofu becomes sticky. Serve on rice.

Perfect airfried Tofu

The perfect airfried tofu: Yes Virginia- it is possible to achieve a perfect crispy outside with a tender delicious inside.
Modified from a NYT baked tofu recipe


Press tofu for 20 min

Cut into half inch pieces

Toss with 1 tbsp olive oil and 2 tsp sesame oil

Toss with 1 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tbsp sesame seeds and 1 tbsp Panko breadcrumbs

Airfry at 400 F for 25 minutes

Wonton soup

Quick wonton soup recipe

Broth: Boil for 15-20  minutes: 1 quart vegetable stock ( I used better than bouillon), 1 tbsp garlic, 1 tbsp ginger chopped fine, 2 tsp soy sauce, 1 tsp sesame oil, 2 tsp sambal olek


Tofu: 1 14 oz package- stir fried till brown all around

Wontons: I used prepared potstickers (shitake and vegeatable dumplings)

Greens: wilted spinach

Herbs: cilantro, scallions

Chinkiang vinegar (or seasoned rice wine vinegar) with chopped chilies for heat

Noodles: Boiled rice noodles

Mix all together, add a squeeze of lime and some peanuts for crunch with extra sriracha if you wish




Hanoi style Vietnamese Tofu

I have followed Mark Bittman for years and I mourned for weeks when he left his Minimalist column. So I was delighted to learn recently that all the purple carrot recipes are online and searchable. This is a delicious caramel sauce – better than his NYT published recipe. I made this almost exactly as the recipe specified except I added some chili-garlic paste at the end to the adult plates. Very very good and refreshing

Sweet Chili Glazed Tofu from America’s test kitchen

In my meat-eating past, my favorite Chinese dish was the crispy honey chili chicken. This is better. The glaze is not goopy but clings perfectly to the tofu.


Tofu: 1 pack of tofu (the recipe specifies soft, I had only firm) cut into 3 inchx1/2 inch long fingers. Dredge in a dry mixture of ¾ c cornstarch and ¼ c cornmeal, salt and pepper. I dredged them twice. Shallow fry in a nonstick skillet till light golden on all sides (about 10 min). Empty oil from pan


Sauce: whisk ½ c water, ½ c rice vinegar,1/3 c sugar, 4 minced garlic cloves, 2-3 tsp Asian chili garlic sauce, 2 tsp cornstarch together. Cook till they form a slurry (about 2-3 min)


Add tofu back to glaze, garnish with cilantro serve with rice

I stir fried the rice in some sesame oil and soy sauce but that isn’t really necessary.