After last week’s onslaught of cake, I’ve discovered it’s possible to crave kale as much as cake.
I’m serious. Would I lie to you about kale, the vegetable which I think tastes like dirt? Never!
After being surrounded by nonstop cake, cupcakes and chocolate for the past two weeks, I was literally itching for some leafy greens and I couldn’t stop thinking about tofu. During a vegetarian potluck over Labor Day, someone brought a container of lightly breaded tofu with a watery, sweet and salty dipping sauce. It was like the restaurant-status tofu of my dreams, except better since it wasn’t soaked in grease. Days afterward, I kept imagining an enormous bowl of sturdy but tender steamed kale soaking up that dipping sauce with a mound of lightly breaded tofu on top and that brings us to now, the fourth day in a row of eating this.
Luckily, huge bunches of kale were on sale for $1 this week, so I bought five. The checkout lady did a double take at the register. My fridge has turned into a jungle.
The secret to getting firm, restaurant-status chunks of tofu instead of watery, soggy chunks is to press your tofu. I grew up on non-pressed tofu, but now–I’m never going back. There are tons of tutorials on how to press tofu online; I just wrap my tofu in a paper towel, put it in my flat strainer over the sink and place a cutting board on top of the tofu, weighed down by cans or other heavy objects for about an hour.
Although I thought I might have issues with soy after doing a detox earlier this year, I discovered that I really don’t have any problems with tofu unless it’s mixed into a sweet dish. And I wouldn’t worry about eating an excess of soy unless you eat this every day from here on out (of which I could potentially be in danger). This is just delicious beyond words and will provide you with an extraordinary boost of health to boot. So much protein! Tons of vitamin A and C! Calcium and potassium galore! Not to mention this is super fast and easy once you get the hang of pressing the tofu before you want to eat it.
The combination of tangy rice vinegar, smoky sesame oil and soy sauce with a small hit of honey really takes the kale from meh to A+++. I’ve tried both silken and firm tofu and while the silken tofu doesn’t hold up as well to the coating and frying as the firm, I loved the scrambled texture threaded with surprise bits of crispy, breaded edges. I added corn to one of the first bowls and added carrots and sesame seeds for extra color and texture last night, but I honestly this is just as good with just kale and tofu.
Pan-fried Tofu and Kale Bowl
- 1 large bunch kale
- 1 14- oz. package firm or silken tofu
- 2-3 tablespoons flour any kind (I've tried white whole wheat and quinoa, with great results)
- garlic powder
- salt and pepper
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil
- 1 large carrot julienned or shaved, optional
- ½ tablespoon sesame oil
- ½ tablespoon rice vinegar
- ½ tablespoon soy sauce liquid aminos for gluten-free folk
- drizzle of honey or maple syrup/agave to keep this vegan
- sesame seeds for garnish
- Press your tofu for at least 30 minutes or up to overnight. I wrap my tofu in a paper towel and place it in a strainer over the sink. I put a cutting board on top of the tofu block and use cans of vegetables as my weights.
- Toward the end of the tofu pressing, prepare the kale. Holding the thick stem with one hand, wrap your other hand around the base of the leaves and pull all the leaves off the stalk in one movement. Rinse all the loose kale, breaking into smaller pieces if necessary, and massage until you feel it soften and get fragrant. Set aside while you prep the tofu.
- Once the tofu is pressed, slice it into small, thin rectangles. Whisk together the flour, a few generous dashes of garlic powder, salt and pepper in a bowl, then add the tofu and toss or stir to mix until the tofu is evenly coated.
- Put a frying pan on over medium heat and add the kale. Cover with a lid and steam for 1-2 minutes, or until a vibrant green. Remove and set aside. With the pan still over medium heat, add the sesame oil and swirl the pan to coat evenly. Add the tofu in an even layer and let fry for 1-2 minutes undisturbed to let it develop a golden crust—do NOT stir. Flip and let cook another 1-2 minutes.
- Whisk together the sesame oil, rice vinegar, soy sauce and honey and taste using a piece of kale. Adjust seasoning to taste and toss with kale and carrot, if using. Add tofu, sprinkle with sesame seeds and eat!