Forget what you used to think about tofu. This week's sweet chili glazed tofu recipe is the perfect combination of salty sweetness and will spark a brand new love affair with soy. It's super easy to make, requires only 7 ingredients, and can be paired with rice, noodles or any of your favorite vegetables. Next time you're thinking of ordering out, try this recipe instead!
Nutrition Side Notes: Benefits and Concerns Regarding Soy
Tofu is a type of unfermented soy that has been shown to have many nutritional benefits. Soybeans are an excellent plant-based protein source (tofu contains 8 gms protein per ½ cup). They contain the highest source of dietary isoflavones (a type of phytoestrogen), which have been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, osteoporosis, bone fractures and postmenopausal symptoms such as hot flashes.
Because isoflavones have a chemical structure similar to estrogen, it was originally thought that consuming soy might be detrimental, especially to those with hormone related cancers, such as breast cancer. However, most of the older studies related to soy and its potential risks were done on rodents. Scientists have since discovered that plant-phytoestrogens (like those in tofu) act very differently than estrogen in the human body and can actually be protective.
The American Institute for Cancer Research considers one to two serving of whole soy foods per day in conjunction with a healthy diet, safe for the general public, even breast cancer survivors. (*Soy protein supplements, however, are not recommended because they contain much higher levels of isoflavones).
Sweet Chili Glazed Tofu Recipe Notes
You'll need to use extra-firm tofu for this recipe. In order to get the perfect texture and flavor, tofu needs to be drained of it's water content and marinated in the glaze prior to cooking. It's a very simple process that involves placing the block of tofu between paper towels and gently pressing it with something weighted (see below). To do this takes about an hour: 30 minutes to drain, and then another 30 minutes to marinate. I usually make the side dishes and vegetables while this is happening.
Once the pan frying begins the tofu takes only about 10-12 minutes to brown. It will develop crisp outer edges but will remain somewhat softer inside.
I usually double the recipe for the glaze so I have extra to drizzle on at the end of frying and for the rice or noodles served with it. A squirt of lime juice and some sliced scallions is also a nice finishing touch as well. You could also top the tofu with some crushed peanuts, cashews, or sesame seeds for more crunch, texture and, of course, flavor.
Sweet Chili Glazed Tofu
- 1 tbsp peanut or sesame oil
- 3 tbsp sweet chili sauce I use Thai Taste brand.
- 1 ½ tbsp low sodium soy sauce
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp ginger powder or freshly ground ginger
- 14 oz extra firm tofu pressed, drained and marinated (see above)
- sliced scallions, chopped peanuts, cashews or sesame seeds or fresh lime juice. optional add ons
- Drain and press tofu as described above.
- Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together to make the glaze.
- Once the tofu is drained and pressed, cut into thick cubes about 2 inches wide and thick.
- Carefully add tofu to the bowl with the glaze and gently toss together to marinate for another 30 minutes. You don't want the tofu to break apart here.
- After marinating, spray or drizzle a large non stick fry pan with cooking oil.
- Heat the pan on medium high, then place the tofu into the pan.
- Pan fry for about 5 min per side or until tofu looks browned and crispy. Repeat the process on the other side.
- Transfer tofu to a platter and top with more glaze, scallions and additional toppings if desired.