Tofu is tasteless. Really. That’s why I was a little nervous that my kids might not like it. So I came up with a bit of a strategy for introducing them to the mashed up soybeans. First, it had to be firm tofu cut into little squares. I was going to make the squares up myself but I was happy to find that firm tofu comes in pre-cut squares (and they were on sale this week). Second, I needed a sauce that would soak into the tofu and add a burst of flavor. Last, I wanted to put it in something that was already familiar. Tacos.
I ran across a recipe in a recent issue of Cuisine at home that seemed to fit all my criteria. I tweaked the recipe to pass along here. The recipe starts by having you make your own flour tortillas. I was all for DIY tortillas but let me tell you for the amount of work you put in, I’d suggest buying smaller flour tortillas instead and brushing them with sesame oil before toasting. Same flavor, a lot less mess (my youngest was covered in flour head to toe). I also added in fresh basil to give the filling a needed zing (Thai basil would have been even better, but you work with what you have, right?). It’s optional, but I recommend adding some fresh herbs into the mix–cilantro or even parsley would work here too.
Prep & cook time: 30 minutes or less (unless you make your own tortillas, in which case, it could be hours)
4 green onions cut into 1-inch pieces (I cut those in half too)
1/2 cup shredded carrots (had these out, totally forgot to use it)
1/2 red pepper cut into slivers
3 cups shredded Napa cabbage
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups firm tofu cut into squares
1/4 cup basil, cut into slivers (opt. but very, very good)
Small flour tortillas (often located in the refrigerator section at the grocers)
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
3 Tbsp. low-sodium soy sauce
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sesame oil
1 tsp. vinegar
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (opt.)
1/8 tsp. white pepper (opt.)
- Toast the flour tortillas in a medium-hot skillet, brushing them with sesame oil before adding them to the pan. Cook until warm and slightly crisped and place in a tortilla warmer or wrap in a clean kitchen towel until the filling is ready.
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients and set aside.
- In a non-stick cook pan or a wok (preferred) bring 1 teaspoon sesame oil to medium-high heat and add the eggs. Cook through and remove from pan. Slice into thin strips.
- Add another 1 teaspoon sesame oil to the wok and add the tofu. Cook until the squares start to crisp. Turn the heat down to medium-low and add 1/2 of the sauce. Cook just until the cubes are coated and remove from the wok.
- More sesame oil. Yup, add another teaspoon to a medium-high pan and then cook your veggies in this order: red peppers, carrots go first for about 2 minutes, then add the green onions. Wait a minute. Finally add in the cabbage, basil, eggs, and tofu.
- Now you have a choice: Do you kiddos like it saucy? If so, add the rest of the sauce, if not, serve it as a side. (I went less saucy myself.)
- Mix the vegetables together for about a minute and then use as a filling for the tacos.
- Serve the tacos alongside rice. (My kids liked adding the extra sauce to their rice.)
Kids’ reactions: Clean plates all around. None of my kids even noticed the tofu. My two youngest kids picked out each and every red pepper sliver, but not a piece of tofu remained. Even Mr. Squid was a fan. I even made tofu fried rice the next day.