Green Beans and Tofu


Our summer has been one of frequent rains and lots of warmth. Add in pails and pails of compost to build up my garden soil, and I have lavish bean vines that are taking over several of the planting beds that are supposed to be providing peppers and chard and lots of other things too.
I’m not complaining. However, I do have a lot more beans than I had planned, so it is time to find new ways to prepare them.  
A few weeks ago, at a Vietnamese restaurant, I saw green beans and tofu on the menu and decided to try my hand at something similar.
Is the following recipe “authentic” anything? Probably not, but the flavors combine well, and the green beans provide a hardy base, even when they have been picked a little larger than I might have preferred. (Do you know how easily hidden even 8 inch long beans are under those delightful green leaves?)
I didn’t have any fresh ginger or unsalted soy sauce in the house, so ground ginger and regular soy sauce would have to do.  If you are serving this over rice (or lo mein noodles), just don’t salt that base, and you should be fine. I wouldn’t try to reduce the amount of soy sauce, however, because the flavor is really needed here.
Green Beans and Tofu
14 oz. pkg firm tofu
2 T canola oil
1 medium carrot (about 4 oz or 1 cup), sliced–quarter the slices if desired
6 oz green beans, about 2 cups, cut in 1 inch pieces
1/3 medium onion, chopped
2 to 4 T diced green chile or jalapeno, mild or hot, to taste
1 T canola oil
 ½ c unsalted chicken or vegetable broth (or water, if you don’t have any broth)
2 T brown sugar
1 T cornstarch
1 t ground ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
¼ c soy sauce
1.  Cut the block of tofu into two thin slices and place on a towel. Cover with another towel and top with a heavy skillet or stack of pans. Press the tofu for at least 15 minutes or up to an hour.
2.  Remove the tofu from the towel and cut into about 1 inch cubes. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a heavy skillet until a bit of water sizzles when dropped in. Add the tofu and brown, stirring often to be sure all sides are browned. When well browned, remove the tofu to a plate.
3.  Add the remaining oil, and heat again until very hot. Add the vegetables and stir, cooking just until beginning to get tender. Gradually add up to ½ cup of broth to keep the vegetables from charring while they are cooking to desired tenderness.
4.  Meanwhile, mix the brown sugar, cornstarch, and ginger in a small bowl and then stir in the soy sauce and minced garlic. Blend well.
5.  When the vegetables are just at the level of doneness you prefer, stir in the tofu and then the sauce. Mix well and continue to simmer for about 5 more minutes to allow the flavors to blend. 
More broth may be added if desired for a more liquid consistency.
Serve over rice or lo mein noodles.
Serves 3 to 4.
If using fresh ginger, grate a tablespoon or so of ginger into the vegetables. 
Other vegetables can be added as desired. Sliced celery, small cauliflowerettes, or sugar peas are all possible additions, depending on what you have available. 
Substitute sliced mushrooms for the carrots. 

Using vegetable broth (or water) results in a fine vegan main dish. 

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