Tofu: Not Just for Asian Food Any More

May 17, 2010

Tofu, for many valid reasons, is virtually always associated with Asian cuisine, specifically Chinese and Japanese, with some Thai as well.  Perhaps this is because it’s used much more often in those cooking styles, but you never see tofu on the menu in any other kinds of restaurants.  Well, leave it to Rick Bayless to show us the error of our ways, and produce a recipe for “Mexican tofu,” I guess you could call it.  The key to any tofu dish is the sauce, and this one’s a spicy salsa that goes great on anything (and you’ll have leftover salsa for another time).  Plus it’s so simple – pan-roasted tomatillos and garlic, blended with chipotles and a little salt.  Smoky, spicy, fresh and delicious.  I pair this recipe with plantains, a marvelous sweet compliment to the spicy tofu.  Enjoy!

Chipotle Tofu with Sweet Plantains

(serves 2)


4 medium tomatillos, husked, washed and cut in half

3 cloves garlic, peeled

¼ cup water

2 (or more) canned chipotles in adobo

½ tsp. salt


2 tbsp. vegetable oil, divided

½ cup diced onion

1 package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into ½-inch thick slices

Fresh cilantro


2 very ripe plantains (mostly or all black), quartered

4 tbsp. butter

Brown sugar

Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium heat.  Place the tomatillos in the pan, cut-side down, along with the garlic.  Roast until browned, 4-5 minutes.  Turn the tomatillos and garlic over and roast until browned, another 3-4 minutes.  Place tomatillos and garlic in a blender with the chipotles, water and salt.  Blend until coarsely pureed.  Scoop into a bowl to cool.

Add 1 tbsp. oil to the pan, increase heat to med-high.  Sautee onion until tender, 3-4 minutes.  Place onions into a small bowl, return pan to heat and add the remaining 1 tbsp. oil.  Cook the tofu until browned, about 4-5 minutes, then flip slices over and brown other side.  Turn off heat, add onions and ½ cup of the salsa.  Stir gently until blended.  Arrange tofu slices on a plate, top with any remaining salsa from the pan, sprinkle cilantro over the top. 

While tofu cooks, melt butter in a skillet over medium heat.  When butter is hot, add plantains and increase heat to med-high.  Fry plantains until golden brown, about 3 minutes.  Flip and cook plantains until browned, another 2 minutes.  Transfer to plate, drizzle butter from pan over plantains, sprinkle brown sugar on top.  Eat!


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