This Thai-influenced dish was Meiling’s all-time favorite meal when she was young. She would have happily eaten it several times a week, for breakfast and lunch as well as dinner, and she has already requested I make it when she’s here in December. I came across the recipe many years ago in Molly Katzen’s The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, and the rest, they say, is history. There was a time I could have probably made the sauce for this in my sleep because I’d fixed it so many times.
It’s actually a very quick recipe to pull together, and is very amenable to variation (substituting chicken or pork for the tofu, for example), but we’ve always preferred tofu. I used to boil the tofu cubes for around 10 minutes before adding them to the stir fry as it “set” the tofu so it wouldn’t crumble, but these days I press the tofu before cooking and it holds it shape just fine.
All the ingredients are low cost, and most, if not many, are items I usually have on hand in the pantry, refrigerator, or freezer (frozen broccoli florets can be used, if necessary). Again, chicken or pork can be substituted for the tofu; just stir fry it first and then remove it from the pan while you cook the broccoli and onions. The spiciness of the sauce can also be adjusted by changing the amount of cayenne or chili-garlic paste that’s added (we like it kind of spicy).
Although I usually serve the stir fry over steamed rice, (jasmine rice is especially yummy), I have also tossed the sauce with noodles (spaghetti or rice noodles) for another simple main dish.
BROCCOLI & TOFU IN SPICY PEANUT SAUCE
- 1 package firm tofu
- 1 pound broccoli florets
- 1-2 TBSP vegetable oil
- 2 cups sliced onion
- 1 TBSP fresh grated ginger
- 4 medium cloves of garlic, minced
- 3/4 tsp salt (optional)
- 2 green onions, minced
- Spicy Peanut Sauce (recipe below)
- 1 cup coarsely chopped peanuts (optional, especially if using chunky peanut butter)
- steamed rice
Press the tofu for about an hour before cooking to remove a much of the water as possible (I press between layers of a dish towel to keep the water from going everywhere). Cut into 1-inch cubes and set aside.
Make the spicy peanut sauce and set aside.
(If using chicken or pork instead of tofu, stir fry the meat first, then set aside and wipe out the wok before proceeding.)
Heat a large wok or large skillet. After about a minute, add the vegetable oil and then the onion slices. Cook over high heat until crisp-tender.
Add the broccoli florets, ginger, garlic (and salt, if using). Continue to stir fry over high heat for about 5 minutes, or until the broccoli is bright green and just tender. Add the tofu cubes and the green onions, and stir-fry about 2-3 minutes more, until the tofu is heated through.
Pour in the sauce, and stir until everything is coated. The sauce will thicken as it cooks. Serve immediately over hot rice, topped with the chopped peanuts (if desired).
SPICY PEANUT SAUCE
- 3/4 cup natural peanut butter (no added sugar)
- 3/4 cup very hot (but not boiling) water
- 5 TBSP rice or cider vinegar
- 3 TBSP soy sauce
- 3 TBSP molasses or brown sugar
- cayenne pepper or chili-garlic paste to taste
Mix the peanut butter into the hot water until well blended. Add the remaining ingredients and whisk together. If you use molasses, be sure to whisk the sauce again right before using because some of the molasses can settle at the bottom.