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Crispy Peanut Tofu + Oyster Mushrooms With Coconut Rice

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I finally caved. I bought a new camera + lens.

I was *so* overdue. My previous set-up (a Canon Rebel XT + an 18-55mm lens) lasted me a solid seven years, which is awesome. It helped me progress; it challenged me to learn proper angles and lighting scenarios; it taught me how to look at food. Unfortunately it’s limitations were becoming more and more obvious, and I knew I’d progressed as far as I could with it. (Let’s not overlook the fact that it was a fossil, and had a strip of electrical tape holding the battery door shut).

After much research + some great advice from Lisa at The Viet Vegan, I decided on the Canon 70D + a 50mm lens.

Friends, I can’t even begin to explain the difference I’ve felt already. I almost cried real actual salty tears. I feel like I’m so much closer to where I aspire to be as far as food photography goes, and my experience with this camera + lens so far has been life-giving.

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About this recipe.

Considering I just posted these Grilled Chipotle + Lime Tofu Fajitas last week, I guess you could say I’m on a bit of a tofu kick.

It’s just so good.

This time, rather than grill the tofu, I pan-fried it to a golden crisp and it is beyond swoon-worthy.

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The trick in getting a golden crisp on your tofu, aside from the obvious pressing to rid of the excess water, is corn starch. Corn starch is magical.

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For my marinade, I played with a recipe that my girl Justine (JustineCelina.com) rocked in her mouth-watering Carrot Cashew With Crispy Sesame Tofu dish. I made a few alterations to better suit my dish and play off of the chopped peanuts, but I’m looking forward to giving her version a whirl sometime; you can’t go wrong with a sesame marinade, after all.

I’ll have you know that I could *not* stop munching on tofu bits as I took these photos.

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Crispy Peanut Tofu + Oyster Mushrooms With Coconut Rice is customizable.

Beyond the crispy tofu and oyster mushrooms, which you don’t want to skip out on, things are pretty flexible. You can typically find oyster mushrooms at Whole Foods or your local Asian market, but if you absolutely cannot get your hands on any, go for baby bella, portobello or cremini. You want a nice meat-y and earthy mushroom.
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As far as the rest goes, get creative.

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Crispy Peanut Tofu + Oyster Mushrooms With Coconut Rice

Cozy enough to curl up with on a chilly fall day fall, but brightly flavored enough to feel invigorated. This is comfort food that won’t weight you down. Prep time varies due to tofu pressing + marinating. Please see notes and directions prior to planning for this meal.
Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes
Author Killing Thyme

Ingredients

For the rice:

  • 1 cup of Basmati or Jasmine rice prepared as per packages instructions, but with coconut milk instead of water

For the tofu + marinade:

  • 16 oz extra firm tofu see notes, pressed + cut into 1/2 x 1/2 inch cubes.
  • 2 tablespoons Kikkoman soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon fish sauce
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic minced
  • Juice of one lime
  • 2 teaspoons Sambal oelek can omit if you don't like spiciness
  • 2 teaspoons organic honey
  • 2 teaspoons natural peanut butter
  • 3 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil

For the vegetables:

  • 1 Baby bok choy chopped
  • 4 oz Oyster mushrooms sliced thin
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas
  • 6 oz yellow pepper julienned
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon Kikkoman soy sauce

For garnish:

  • 1/2 cup unsalted peanuts chopped
  • 1 scallion thinly sliced
  • Sesame seeds
  • Microgreens optional

Instructions

Preparing the tofu + marinade:

  • Drain and remove the tofu from it's packaging, and press (see notes). This will be 30 minutes of idle time.
  • In the meantime, prep the marinade: place the marinade ingredients into a blender and blend until smooth.
  • Once the tofu is good to go, cut into cubes and toss into a freezer bag with marinade.
  • Let marinade for at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.

Rice:

  • Cook the rice as per the packages instructions, in coconut milk. Once ready, stir in the frozen peas, cover and set aside.

Tofu:

  • Remove the tofu cubes from their original freezer bag (reserve what marinade is left) and place into a new freezer bag or a large container with a lid.
  • Spoon the corn starch over the cubes and shake/toss until all cubes are evenly coated. Add more corn starch if necessary.
  • Heat coconut oil in a skillet over moderate heat.
  • Place the tofu cubes into the skillet and fry until they are golden brown and crispy on each side — approx. 2 minutes per side.
  • Transfer the tofu to a bowl and drizzle the remainder of the marinade over the tofu.
  • Toss to coat.

Vegetables:

  • Using the same skillet you used for the tofu, heat sesame oil and soy sauce over moderate-low heat.
  • Add the oyster mushrooms, bok choy and bell peppers.
  • Cook until tender — approx. 5-7 minutes.
  • Remove from heat.

Assembly:

  • Spoon coconut rice into bowls or onto plates.
  • Top with veggies, crispy tofu, sesame seeds, scallions, chopped peanuts and (optional) microgreens.

Notes

Tofu acts as a sponge and, since it's been sitting in water, it's full of water. You need to press out the water in order to let other liquids in — like your marinade. If you skip this step, you'll end up with a flavorless tofu. Pressing tofu is easy peasy, you just need to sort of plan a head — but just a bit! !Pressing the tofu: Slice the package of tofu open and drain out all of the water. Cut the block of tofu, length-wise, into 1/2 inch thick slices. You should get 6-7 of them. Place a dish towel on a flat surface, such as a cutting board, cookie sheet or tray. Set down a few paper towels on top of the towel. Place the tofu slices on top of the towels and add more paper towels on top. Set some heavy objects on top of the tofu. The best way to go about this is to set another cookie sheet on top, and then set heavy things on top of the cookie sheet — such as a heavy pot or canned goods. Let it be for at least 30 minutes or up to a few hours.

 

14 Comments

  • Colleen Milne
    October 7, 2016 at 1:10 pm

    Your photos are always gorgeous, but these ones are amazing! Congrats on the new camera, and this dish looks fantastic!
    Happy Thanksgiving.

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      October 7, 2016 at 4:26 pm

      Thanks so much, Colleen. I appreciate that! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving as well. I’m celebrating Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend, despite being in the US. I told my husband there are two Thanksgivings now — and that can never be a bad thing :)

      Reply
  • Brittany at I Love Vegan
    October 7, 2016 at 1:07 pm

    Congratulations on the camera upgrade, that is so exciting! I recently upgraded my set up and I couldn’t believe how much easier photographing recipes has felt. Your pictures are beautiful!

    I know I’ll be making this recipe ASAP (with only the teeniest of modifications to make it vegan.). I’m on a multiple year tofu kick but somehow I’ve never tried the cornstarch trick? That crispiness is unreal!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      October 7, 2016 at 4:24 pm

      Thanks so much, Brittany! Congrats on your recent upgrade as well :) It’s amazing how much of a difference it can make.

      Let me know how you like this recipe, and I’d love to hear about the modifications. I have a vegan cousin, and I don’t feel well-versed when it comes to vegan alterations so I’d love to hear about your spin.

      Reply
  • Samantha | My Kitchen Love
    October 7, 2016 at 12:57 pm

    We’re camera buddies!! I have the same one although I’ve yet to spurge on the 50mm lens … I’m hoping Santa brings it for me :) This recipe looks incredible! Any reason to use Oyster mushrooms is one I’ll personally take. I appreciate the added peas for colour as well as the fact that tofu doesn’t have the highest amount of iron (and with young kids I need make sure they’re getting lots of it!).

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      October 7, 2016 at 4:22 pm

      That’s amazing! Oh gosh, definitely put that 50mm on your list — it’s life-altering.

      Oyster mushrooms are amazing, aren’t they? I made a stir-fry of sorts the following night with leftovers and made a spicy peanut sauce to change things up a bit and hot dayum — something about a creamy spicy peanut sauce and those mushrooms together was incredible. Sadly it was a hodgepodge of a recipe — I’ll have to figure out measurements. Haha.

      Reply
  • Dr. Kimberley | Healthy Life Redesign
    October 7, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Congrats on the new camera purchase Dana! Both your photos and this recipe are a home run. This coconut rice bowl is stunning and totally has me salivating. I can’t wait to give it a try! What a nourishing, delicious dish!

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      October 7, 2016 at 4:21 pm

      Thanks so much, Dr. Kimberley! I appreciate the love. I hope you love it. Definitely let me know :)

      Reply
  • Choclette
    October 7, 2016 at 2:27 am

    Despite blogging for over 7 years now, I’ve only recently started on my photography journey and have a very long way to go. Your photos are beautiful. However, it was the peanut tofu that head me heading to your site. I just love this idea and can see it would work brilliantly with sesame too.

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      October 7, 2016 at 4:19 pm

      Hey Choclette! Never too late to start. It’s an intimidating game, but the more you play with food styling and photography, the better you get at it. When I look back at my old recipe photos (most of which are gone/private now… or at least I hope, lol) I can’t help but feel proud at how far I’ve come. Anyone can do it, and really, no matter how much you improve you’ll always be striving for more. So enjoy the learning process!

      I’m really glad that the peanut tofu was intriguing enough to bring you here :) Thanks for stopping by. Let me know if you try it out, peanut OR sesame! I’m just Justine would love to hear about a successful sesame tofu as well!

      Reply
  • Justine
    October 5, 2016 at 8:05 pm

    Dana, this looks incredible — both the recipe and the photos! So excited for your new camera and lens and what you’ll be able to do with them. :) Also, thanks so much for the mention. I’m happy the cornstarch method worked out for you! I still want to try your method from the fajita post. Yay for delicious tofu methods! ;)

    Reply
    • Killing Thyme
      October 7, 2016 at 4:10 pm

      Thanks so much, bella! More than happy to mention you. I really want to try your entire recipe for the carrot + cashew zoodles. That’s one of my big struggles as a food blogger I find — I get so wrapped up in creating my own content that I never seem to get a chance to make my fellow bloggers dishes, and I think that would be a nice thing to do once in a while. Thinking out loud, and I’ll probably post about this in our Connecting Over Cocktails group soon, but maybe we can all do a thing where once a month, we create one of each others dishes and Insta/Tweet/FB about it. No need to write a full post and blog about it, but just to be like, “Hey look! I made so’n’so’s blahblah dish (I’m so creative lol). I definitely recommend it!”
      Anyway, yeah. Thinking out loud. Haha.

      Corn starch forever though, amirite? The highest of fives to delicious tofu!

      Have a wonderful weekend, my friend! xo

      Reply
  • Taylor @ The Girl on Bloor
    October 5, 2016 at 6:22 pm

    Dana this is BEAUTIFUL!!! And yes, I came just for the camera pics, but now I will return for the crispy tofu method. ;) I have never been able to master it before! So excited for you and the next steps in your food photography career!!!

    Reply
    • Dana
      October 7, 2016 at 4:05 pm

      Thanks so much, Taylor!
      Haha — THAT TOFU, THO. it’s just *stupid* good. Let me know if/when you give it a shot. I’d love to hear what you think.

      Reply

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