In this dish, well-seared tofu, cashews and crisp vegetables are doused with a sweet and sticky sauce in a cast iron pan, producing something very similar to Chinese takeout. What makes this sauce so beautifully flavored and thick, and allows it to cling so well to the tofu, is a simple and small dash of a cold water and cornstarch slurry added at the end of cooking time. This looks and smells heavenly throughout the prep and cook time, and is quick and easy enough to make as a weeknight dinner.
SWEET AND STICKY CASHEW TOFU
Yield 2 servings
for the sauce
- 2 TB toasted sesame oil
- 2 TB soy sauce
- 1/2 cup mirin
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 TB cold water, whisked with 2 tsp cornstarch
for the tofu and vegetables
- 1-2 tsp olive oil
- 1 TB minced ginger
- 1 TB minced garlic
- 1 block of firm tofu, sliced into triangles (no need to press it)
- 2-3 small shallots, quartered
- 4-6 shiitake caps, sliced thinly
- handful or so of broccoli florets
- 1/3 cup raw cashews
- sesame seeds
- noodles or rice
- Combine all of the sauce ingredients except for the cornstarch and water into a small bowl and set aside.
- In a cast iron pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add in the ginger and garlic and allow to soften for a minute or two. Then, scrape the contents into a small bowl and set aside.
- Return to the stove and place a little more olive oil into the pan. Increase the heat to medium, then place the tofu triangles into the pan. Be careful, as the pan may sputter a bit. Allow the tofu to brown on one side for about 6 minutes, then flip and allow the other side to brown for the same amount of time. Transfer the tofu to a plate.
- Next, add in the shallots to the pan. Poke them around a bit after a minute to allow the layers to separate. Add in the mushrooms, stir, then deglaze the pan with a tablespoon of water. Allow to sizzle for a minute or two, then toss in the broccoli florets and cashews. Once the broccoli is bright green after a minute or so, transfer the pan contents to another plate.
- Now return the tofu to the pan. Whisk together the sauce, then pour it over the tofu. Stir gently to combine. Stir the water and cornstarch together in a small bowl until combined, then pour into the pan, stir and allow to slightly thicken, then remove from the heat immediately.
- Place cooked noodles or rice into a bowl. Add the vegetables and other reserved components to the bowl, then place the tofu triangles over everything, using a spatula to scrape any leftover sauce out of the pan. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds, then serve immediately.