Why would you ever consider swapping out tofu for your precious paneer? For me, it's simply so I can eat more. I know, I'm a glutton for good food. But, it's hard for me to keep my portions micro small to balance out my daily calories and still feel good about myself on the scale. Consider this. 1 ounce of paneer has about 90 calories - tofu about 20. Multiply that by 8 and all of a sudden one meal can really take that calorie count up fast especially if you are like me and love seconds. I would never give you a recipe that did not also taste delicious. Why I recommend baking your tofu to get the best out of it for an Indian palette. I also recommend a firm high-quality tofu such as Ichiban. My go-to for soy sauce? Always Kikkoman - they produce a high-quality and naturally-brewed product.
This recipe is an Indo-Chinese dish, a sub-cuisine popular in India that uses Indian ingredients and Chinese cooking techniques. Whenever I land in Delhi, it's the first thing I crave (I know you thought it would be Indian). This dish is not heavy on Indian spices, but I added a little garam masala to the baked tofu. It does use fresh ingredients that are used commonly in Indian cuisine, including green bell pepper and cilantro. I also swapped out regular flour for quinoa flour to take out the gluten and add even more protein. Give it a try. I have a feeling you are going to love it!
Don't be intimidated by the number of steps. Start by baking the tofu. Then, make the sauce, and last the veggies. I've consolidated some of the steps found in other recipes to make this more streamline and understandable. Leave a comment and let me know what you think!
Chile Baked Tofu
Tofu I use Ichiban firm tofu
1 19 oz. package firm tofu, no need to drain, cut into 1-inch cubes
3 tablespoons cornstarch, potato starch, or arrowroot
3 tablespoons flour (all purpose, quinoa, or almond)
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garam masala
¼ cup + 1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 420 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large baking tray with parchment paper or lightly spray with vegetable oil.
Whisk all ingredients except the tofu together in a shallow bowl until combined. The amount of water needed can fluctuate depending on the type of flour used. The batter should be thick enough to lightly coat your tofu, but not clumpy. I love using quinoa flour because it's gluten-free, adds protein, and crisps up slightly.
Put 6 to 8 pieces of tofu at a time in the batter and lightly coat. Transfer each piece of tofu to the tray with tongs, tapping on the side of your bowl to get rid of any excess batter. Place on baking tray. Be sure none of the pieces touch. Keep going until you have coated all your tofu.
Bake for 20 – 25 minutes depending on how hot your oven runs. There is no need to flip them in between, but if you want to avoid the batter pooling on the bottom, then flip halfway through. Because this goes into my stir-fry, I tend to not mind the slight pooling of batter.
Remove from the oven and set aside to cool.
3 tablespoons soy sauce I use Kikkoman
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon spicy red chile sauce (Any Asian hot sauce or oil will do)
2 tablespoons tomato ketchup (yes, really!)
½ teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tablespoon cornstarch, potato starch, or arrowroot
1 tablespoon roasted sesame oil
¼ cup water
Whisk together in a small bowl and set aside.
1 tablespoon vegetable oil (canola, grapeseed, or avocado)
2 tablespoons ginger, grated or minced
4 cloves garlic, grated or minced
4 scallions, white and green part separated *
1 medium red onion, roughly chopped
2 – 4 fresh Thai, serrano, or cayenne chiles, stems removed, sliced lengthwise down the middle or thinly sliced
2 medium green bell peppers, diced
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Heat oil in large pan or wok. Add ginger and garlic. Cook 30 seconds.
Add green portion of scallions and red onion. Cook 1 minute. * I like to chop and cook the green and the white parts of the scallions separately.
Add fresh chiles and bell pepper. Cook 2 minutes until the pepper softens slightly.
Make a well in the middle by pushing the vegetables to the side. Pour the sauce in and wait until it bubbles.
Add the baked tofu to the sauce and mix carefully until all the ingredients are coated evenly with the sauce. Be careful not to break the tofu.
Add the white sliced portion of the scallion and cilantro. Mix and cook until heated through. If you want this to be a little saucier, just add a little water 2 tablespoons at a time and heat through.
Serve with rice or noodles. My favorite Jasmine rice is fast becoming the Three Horses Jasmine Rice brand found in Chinatown, Argyle, Caputo's, Tony's Finer Foods, Fresh Farm, Butera, and Shop & Save. Ichiban tofu is found in Garden Fresh, Cermak Produce, Park to Shop Supermarket, Open Produce, and lots of other great locations.
Let me know what you think! xoxo - Anupy