Experimenting with Food from the Neighborhood: Maple and Soy-Glazed Tofu & Veggies

I began my internship with the Museum at Eldridge Street on June 1st, just a short while before the Egg Rolls and Egg Creams Festival. I gleaned inspiration for the following meal from the mixture of cultures I witnessed at the festival. I began to explore the Chinese neighborhood in search of authentic, homemade Chinese groceries to prepare for my first Monday night dinner. After searching far and wide for Hanna’s, the Director of Family History and Cultural Programs, favorite homemade tofu store, I stumbled across a woman on Grand Street with nothing in her modest store but a table, a cash register, one large boiler, and two buckets of tofu. Holding grocery bags containing the homemade tofu and fresh vegetables (which totaled $5.50, any college student’s dream), I returned to my apartment. With little else in my cupboards, I pulled together a simple stir fry recipe. This Jewish boy’s love of food combined with the Chinese influence of the neighborhood came together to create one scrumptious meal!

This image is from our friends at www.TheLoDownNY.com! Check out their article about the Tung Woo Co. by clicking on this image.

Maple and Soy-Glazed Tofu & Veggies

For the glaze
· 1.5 cup chicken broth
· 4 tablespoons maple syrup
· 3 tablespoon soy sauce
· 1 tablespoon lemon juice
· 1 thin slice of lemon (if available)
· 3-4 garlic clove, smashed
· salt & pepper
· hot crushed red pepper
· dry basil
· 1 tbs. chunky peanut butter

For the tofu
· 1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu, drained and patted dry
· 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

For the veggies:
· Stir fry various veggies, such as sugar snap peas, broccoli, eggplant, cauliflower, etc. in a little bit of EVOO and water. Add salt, pepper, and 2 cloves of garlic.

2. Meanwhile, in a skillet, combine the broth, syrup, cider, soy sauce, lemon juice, and garlic. Boil for 5 minutes, then whisk in the cornstarch and cook, whisking constantly, until the glaze thickens, about 1 to 2 minutes more. Set aside.
3. Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Then use a knife or a cookie cutter to create cubes or playful shapes. Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and sear until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes a side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.

And did I mention that the tofu at the Tong Woo Co. on Grand Street is by far the best I have ever had? The owner is also extremely friendly. Do not hesitate to strike up a conversation with this fascinating woman. Enjoy the recipe!

–David Schlenker

Categories: Blog, Lower East Side, Recipes

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