Ah Ee Ooh, Killer Tofu!!

If you didn’t get that Doug/The Beets reference… I don’t know if we can be friends anymore.  Really, please familiarize yourself with all things 90s Nickelodeon cartoons before you continue.  Thank you.

For awhile now I’ve wanted to try cooking with tofu.  I love it in Asian-style foods, and it’s a great source of protein with low calories to boot!  I was a little afraid of it, kind of like my fear of baking with yeast, (I WILL conquer this!) but once I saw this recipe on Pinterest, I thought it would be perfect first tofu recipe experience.  Now, the recipe seems rather long at first glance, but really the steps are simple, and as long as you have your mise en place, you’ll be good to go.

Sweet Chili Lime Tofu with Wok Steamed Collards and Rice
Recipe from Vegan Yum Yum (best name EVER)

Chili Lime Tofu (1)Ingredients
– 1 Block Tofu, extra firm, 14 oz

Sweet Chili Lime Sauce
– 3 Tbs Sugar
– 3 Tbs Reduced Sodium Tamari/soy sauce
– 1 3/4 Tbs Fresh Lime Juice
– 1/2 Zest of the Lime (I just used bottled lime juice, omitted the zest)
– 1/2 tsp Red Chili Flakes (or 1-2 fresh hot chilies, minced)
– 1 Clove Garlic, pressed, optional {we LOVE garlic, so we added more)
– 1/4 tsp Salt
– 4 Mint Leaves, chiffonaded (omitted, not a fan of mint)

Ricenow the recipe is originally for quinoa, but we didn’t have any and I didn’t feel like making it when we had rice in the house already. See the original recipe link for the full quinoa instructions
– 3/4 Cup brown rice
– 1/2 Zest Lime (omitted)
– 2 Bruised Cardamom Pods, optional (we actually had these, I was shocked)
– 1 Tiny Stick of Cinnamon (a broken piece of a larger stick), optional
– 1/4 tsp Salt
– 1 1/3 Cup Water

Wok Steamed Collards
– 1 Bunch Collard Greens, middle veins removed, washed (We got this pre-chopped/bagged at Trader Joe’s)
– 2-3 Tbs Water
– 1 Pinch Salt
– 1 tsp Lime Juice

Phew, seems like a laundry list of ingredients, right?

Instructionsthey seem suuuuuper long, I swear they aren’t! It’s just very… detailed.
1. Combine all the ingredients for the rice (or quinoa) in a pot that has a tight fitting lid. Bring to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20 minutes, then turn off heat. Do not open lid. Let steam for 10 minutes before serving.

2. While your rice is cooking, prepare the sweet chili lime sauce by whisking all of the ingredients together until the sugar and salt is dissolved.

3. Drain tofu and cut it into small triangles. Take a look at the original recipe for her instructions on how to cut the tofu into shape, if you need them. I followed it, having never worked with tofu before, but I’m sure little squares would suffice as well. Just cut the freaking tofu. Also, don’t worry about having a “fancy” tofu press to drain the tofu block. Dave put the tofu on a plate, covered it with a paper towel, put a Tupperware lid on top, and then used our mortar and pestle as a weight. Worked fine!

4. Heat a well-seasoned cast iron or non-stick skillet over medium heat. In order to properly “dry fry” the tofu, you’ll need a pan the tofu won’t stick to even without any oil. Spread the tofu out in one layer in the pan. Using a spatula, press the tofu. The liquid will squeeze out and boil away, and the tofu will begin to turn golden. The more water that evaporates, the sturdier the tofu will be, so be gentle at first to prevent the tofu from breaking up. After several minutes, flip the tofu over and press the other side. After about 10 minutes of dry frying, you can turn off the heat and set the tofu aside for finishing later, or proceed to adding the sauce.

5. To finish the tofu, bring the pan back up to temperature if it’s not already very hot. You want to heat the pan and the tofu over high heat, making sure the tofu is hot all the way through. Add the sauce and stir to coat the tofu. Turn off the heat. The sauce will bubble up, reduce, and form a glaze. If it isn’t bubbling up and forming a glaze, turn the heat back on high and cook until the glaze is.. well.. glaze-y.

6. If you didn’t buy pre-cut collards, stack the collard leaves on top of each other, 3-4 at a time, and chiffonade them. Cut across again if you want to make smaller pieces. Add them to a wok with the water, lime juice and salt. Cover with any lid that will contain the collards and cook over high heat for 3-4 minutes until the collards are steamed and tender.

7. For plating, arrange the collards atop of a bed of rice or quinoa. Add tofu over the top, drizzling any leftover sauce over the dish. Garnish with lime slices and mint leaves (if you’re fancy… we’re not). Serve.

Chili Lime Tofu (2)I SHOVED this in my mouth. Literally ate it like I was a seagull, ramming it down my gullet without chewing. As I told Ben, it was “OMGF*CKING GOOD”. Dave liked it, but wasn’t enamored with the meal like I was. Not that I cared as I greedily packed the leftovers up for lunch the next day.  I think there could have been a little more sauce overall, but I loved it.

I will also admit that Dave had a large hand in making this meal happen, due to the NYC transit system throwing me a commuting curveball the night this was on the menu, and he did a lot of prep work for me. Thanks hun!

Have you incorporated tofu into your cooking? Any successes/failures? I’d LOVE to find more recipes!


  1. When I saw your post title in my RSS reader, I sang that Killer Tofu hook out loud before reading. I can still ‘sing’ the entire Doug theme song. And remember all the little music twangs they played for different characters’ entry into a scene? 🙂

    And Quailman!

  2. this sounds pretty delicious. And good use of mise en place! A rarity.


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