14 to 16 ounce block medium or firm tofu
Garnish this vibrantly seasoned tofu dish with roasted unsalted cashews, but as alternate garnishes use unsalted roasted peanuts or lightly toasted unsweetened flaked coconut (available in bulk in most health food stores).
Make a Meal: Serve with a crisp salad of chopped Napa cabbage tossed 1 cup chopped fresh pineapple and Japanese Rice Vinaigrette, and sprinkled with black sesame seeds.
Cook time: 25 minutes
1 ½ cups white jasmine or basmati rice
Cilantro and Coconut Milk Sauce:
1 cup regular or low-fat coconut milk
1 cup packed cilantro including tender stems
2 teaspoons chopped jalapeño or serrano, or more to taste
2 teaspoons plus 1 tablespoon chopped fresh ginger
2 garlic cloves, grated
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup diced (½ inch pieces) red bell pepper
½ cup diagonal (½ inch) slices scallions
1 tablespoon Madras curry powder
1 bag (5 ounces) baby spinach or leaf spinach, stemmed and torn into pieces, about 5 cups packed, rinsed and drained
½ cup unsalted coarsely chopped roasted cashews
¼ cup chopped cilantro
1. Slice the block of tofu into six ½ inch thick slices. Arrange on a folded dish towel, cover with a second folded towel and press down gently but firmly with the palm of your hand. Cut into ½ inch squares. Let stand until ready to stir fry.
2. In a large straight sided skillet heat 2 ½ cup water and a pinch of salt to a boil. Stir in the rice, cover and cook until water is absorbed and rice is tender, about 15 minutes. If using brown rice increase the water to 3 cups and cook about 45 minutes.
3. While the rice is cooking make the Cilantro and Coconut Milk Sauce: In a blender puree the coconut milk, cilantro, jalapeño, 2 teaspoons ginger, 1 garlic clove, lime juice and ½ teaspoon salt until smooth. Taste and add more jalapeno, ginger, lime juice or salt, if needed. Pour into a two cup liquid measure.
4. Heat a wok, wok skillet or deep skillet over high heat until hot enough to sizzle and evaporate a drop of water. Add the oil. When the oil is hot enough to sizzle a piece of tofu add to the hot oil adjusting the heat as needed to keep the oil sizzling hot, gently turn the tofu with a spatula or tongs until golden, about 6 minutes.
5. Remove the tofu from the skillet to a side dish. To the skillet add the red bell pepper, scallion, curry powder, remaining 1 tablespoon ginger and remaining grated garlic. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add half of the cilantro and coconut milk sauce and all of the spinach to the wok and cook, stirring, until blended and spinach shows signs of wilting, about 2 minutes.
6. Add the remaining cilantro and coconut milk sauce to the rice and reheat over medium heat, tossing once or twice with a fork. Do not stir or rice may become gummy. Spoon rice into serving bowls and top with tofu mixture. Sprinkle with cashews and cilantro.
Recipe adapted from Fresh & Fast Vegetarian: Recipe That Make Meal by Marie Simmons (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2011).