Frozen Tofu with Winter Vegetables

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Easy

  • Serves

    6 to 8

    with rice

Appears in

Seductions of Rice

By Jeffrey Alford and Naomi Duguid

Published 1998

  • About

Freezing tofu has been used as a method of preservation in China and Japan for centuries. Tofu is traditionally left outside on cold winter nights, where it not only freezes but also dehydrates, making it “freeze-dried.” When cooked, frozen tofu is firm-textured and, unlike fresh tofu, absorbent like a sponge. In slowly simmered dishes, it holds onto all the flavors of the sauce it cooks in, a little bit like the way chunks of eggplant cook in a tomato sauce.

Freezing tofu is also a very practical way of dealing with surplus squares of fresh tofu. Simply cut them into half-inch squares, arrange them on a plate or large plastic lid, and put them in the freezer. The next day you can lift them off the plate or lid, wrap them in a plastic bag, seal it, and store them frozen until you need them. Freezing tofu in a freezer is not quite the same as freezing it outside, where it will dehydrate even more in the fresh air. As frozen tofu from the freezer thaws, it gives off water; just squeeze out the tofu once it has thawed to make it all the more absorbent.

This recipe is for a slowly simmered winter vegetable stew. The chunks of tofu become truly flavor-packed.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese cooking wine or dry sherry
  • 2 cups frozen tofu cubes (see headnote), defrosted and excess water
  • squeezed out
  • 4 cups chicken stock or vegetarian stock, preferably unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 4 scallions, cut into 1½-inch lengths
  • ½ pound mushrooms, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • ¾ pound carrots, cut into ½-inch cubes (2 cups)
  • ¾ pound potatoes, peeled and cut into ½-inch cubes (2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (less if using salted stock)
  • Generous grinding of black pepper (optional)

Method

In a small bowl, mix together the soy sauce and 1 tablespoon of the wine. Add the tofu cubes and turn to coat. Set aside.

Put the stock in a medium pot and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer.

Meanwhile, place all the remaining ingredients near your stovetop. Place a large heavy pot over high heat. When it is hot, add the oil, and heat for 15 seconds. Toss in the garlic and scallions and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Toss in the mushrooms and ginger and stir-fry until the mushrooms begin to soften and to give up some moisture. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon wine, toss, and stir, then add the carrots and potatoes and stir and turn for 2 minutes.

Add the hot stock and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium and simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Add the tofu with its marinade and the salt and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes, until the carrots and potatoes are tender. Serve immediately, or set aside and reheat just before serving. (The stew may be made ahead and frozen, or stored in the refrigerator in well-sealed nonreactive containers for up to 3 days.)