For years, we've been trying to duplicate the kind of tofu we're served at Chinese restaurants. Finally, we think we're on the right track.
The secret is dredging the chunks of cut tofu in cornstarch and then sauteing them separately from the veggies. This method yields springy tofu with a pleasantly chewy interior, a nice contrast to the crunchy snow peas and the tangy flavors in the sauce.
Tofu Stir-Fry with Snap Peas and Mushrooms Serves 4
For the sauce: 3/4 cup chicken or vegetable broth 3 Tablespoons soy sauce 1 Tablespoon rice wine vinegar 2 teaspoons sugar 2 Tablespoons corn starch
For the stir-fry: 3-5 Tablespoons vegetable oil, divided 1/3 cup corn starch 1 block (14 ounces) extra-firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes 10 ounces baby bell or white button mushrooms, wiped clean and quartered 8 ounces snow peas, ends trimmed 3 cloves garlic, minced 1 Tablespoon minced ginger 6-8 spring onions, roots removed and cut into 2-inch strips
Mix the broth, soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, and sugar in a measuring cup. Whisk in the cornstarch until dissolved and set aside.
In a wok or saute pan, heat 1 Tablespoon of the oil until it shimmers but doesn't smoke.
In a shallow bowl toss half of the tofu chunks with the cornstarch, making sure all sides are coated. When the oil is hot, add the tofu to the pan and let sit without stirring for one minute. Stir the tofu to flip the sides and let set for another minute.
Continue until all sides are golden (about 5-7 minutes) and then remove the tofu to a clean plate. Add another tablespoon of oil and repeat with remaining tofu.
(Note: the tofu will likely absorb all the oil. That's ok. If the tofu starts to burn, lower the heat and stir more frequently until golden brown.)
Add another Tablespoon of oil to the pan and stir-fry the mushrooms until they have released all their moisture.
Once the moisture has evaporated and the mushrooms are a deep earthy brown, add the snow peas and stir-fry until bright green and still crunchy (al dente), 1-2 minutes.
Add the garlic and ginger and stir-fry until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
Whisk the sauce again to re-distribute the cornstarch and pour into the pan with the mushrooms and snow peas. Stir the veggies frequently and allow the sauce to come to a boil until it's thickened as much as you like it, 10-15 minutes.
Just before serving, stir in the spring onions and tofu.
Note: if you'd like crispier tofu, serve the tofu on top of the stir-fry instead of stirring it in.