I started with this Garlic Chicken and Broccoli Cashew Stir Fry from the Recipe Critic. No idea how I found it; possibly it was referenced on The Kitchn. I immediately chose to substitute tofu for the chicken. Then it was just a matter of tweaking the rest of the ingredients to suit our family’s tastes. For example, I added bit of ginger and rice vinegar to punch up the flavor a bit more and reduced the brown sugar. One of these times I’ll see how it tastes with maple syrup instead of brown sugar—I bet it will be great. If everyone in the family loved chilis I would have added a diced fresh chili or some crushed red pepper flakes. I reduced the amount of cashews and found that 2/3 is plenty for our family of four.
I used extra firm tofu and that’s probably the best choice, though I do like the tenderness of just regular firm tofu. This recipe is so simple you don’t even have to marinate the tofu, though you’re welcome to make some extra sauce and do just that if you like. I went the route of ease by only frying the tofu on one side in my stainless steel skillet—no worries about leaving the lovely crust in the pan; it all loosens up easily in the steaming stage.
I used broccoli and carrots but any vegetable that can handle being cooked should be just fine, such as cauliflower, bell pepper, etc. I served over rice but if you don’t like rice you could use another grain or just serve on its own. This made enough dinner for the four of us (two are kids) with some left over. That high-protein tofu at Trader Joe’s (the only extra firm stuff they have) is filling!
1 14-16 oz block of extra firm tofu cut into bite-sized cubes
2 TBSP neutral oil
3-4 cloves garlic, minced or put through a press
1-2 tsp fresh ginger, grated on a microplane or to taste (optional)
1/4 c soy sauce
2-3 TBSP brown sugar or maple syrup
1 TBSP rice vinegar (optional)
1 tsp sesame oil
2/3 c water (or stock of your choice; original recipe called for chicken stock which makes sense when the protein is chicken but not so much when it’s tofu!)
1 large head broccoli cut into bite-sized pieces (I use the stalks and florets)
1 large carrot sliced thinly
2/3 c cashews, toasted if desired
2 tsp cornstarch mixed with an additional TBSP cold water
- Mix the sauce ingredients (garlic through the 2/3 cup of water) in a small bowl and set aside
- Heat the neutral oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Add the tofu cubes in a single layer and let fry until they seem well browned on one side
- Add the sauce over the tofu cubes and give it a stir, then scatter the broccoli and carrot on top
- Cover the skillet and let steam for about 5 minutes or to your vegetable texture preference
- Remove the lid, add the cashews and stir in the cornstarch/water mixture. Stir and cook until the sauce thicken a bit. It won’t be super thick but will have a nice viscosity
- Serve over the grain of your choice or on its own