Brussels Sprouts with Tofu

If you do “Meatless Mondays” this is a dish you will want in your files.  It uses a seasonal vegetable in an unexpected way.   Fast and easy; it’s spicy, earthy, and very satisfying.  The tofu marinates briefly in a combination of sweet chili sauce, maple syrup, and soy sauce.  The brussels sprouts are seared to caramelize them and tossed with mushrooms, onions, fresh chili and herbs.  The quickly browned tofu is added and the whole becomes greater than the sum of its parts, so to speak.  Delicious on its own or served with rice, it could also double as a side dish to your choice of protein (to satisfy the meat-eaters of the family).  Prepare your ingredients while the tofu marinates and proceed as you would for a stir-fry.  Dinner will be on the table in no time.

Brussels Sprouts with Tofu
(serves 4)
2 tablespoons sweet chili sauce
1 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 tablespoons toasted sesame oil
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
1 tablespoon maple syrup
5 ounces firm tofu
1 pound Brussels sprouts
vegetable oil for frying
1 cup sliced green onions
1/2 small fresh red chile, deseeded and finely chopped
1 1/2 cups shiitake mushrooms, halved or quartered (I used regular button mushrooms)
1 cup cilantro leaves (I used flat leaf parsley, which changes the character of the dish, but is still good)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds (optional)

Whisk together in a bowl the chili and soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil, the vinegar and maple syrup.  Cut the tofu block into 3/8 inch slices and then each slice into two square pieces.  Gently stir into the marinade and set aside.  Trim the bases off the sprouts and cut each from top to bottom into three thick slices (halve the smaller sprouts).  Heat a generous tablespoon or two of oil in a large non-stick pan.  Toss in half the sprouts with a little salt and cook on high heat for about 2 minutes.  Don’t stir too much; you want the sprouts to almost burn in a few places and cook through but remain crunchy.  Remove to a bowl, repeat with the remaining sprouts.  Again, remove the seared sprouts to the bowl.  Add a little more oil to the pan, heat up and saute the onions, fresh chile, and mushrooms for 1 to 2 minutes.  Transfer to the sprout bowl.  Leave the pan on high heat.  Use tongs to lift half the tofu pieces from the marinade and gently lay them in the pan (be careful as the oil will spit), spacing them apart and in one layer.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook for 2 minutes on each side, or until they get a nice caramelized color.  Transfer to the sprout bowl and repeat with the rest of the tofu.  Once all the tofu is cooked, remove the pan from the heat and return all the cooked ingredients to it.  Add the remaining tofu marinade and half the cilantro leaves.  Toss everything together, taste and add salt, if needed.  Stir in the remaining sesame oil and serve warm, garnished with the sesame seeds and the rest of the cilantro.
(from “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi)

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