Tofu Fried Rice

Tofu Fried Rice

I spent last weekend at a horse show in Des Moines, Iowa with my equestrian daughter. It was the last show of the summer, which is always bittersweet. Sweet in that I can wash and vacuum out my car and and have it stay mud-free for longer than a week. Sweet because I now get to enjoy a summer weekend at home in Minneapolis. But bittersweet because some lovely young women who my daughter has rode with for the past few years are off to college and won't be hanging around the barn anymore, talking horses and life and giving my girl a peek into the older teenage years that await.

We all applauded and whistled and shed tears as they rode their last rounds and, driving away from the show grounds, felt their moving on. And while we look forward and expect good things from the next chapter, we mourn the one that is passing. These kids are focused riders who have grown up at the barn and benefited from the generosity of the equine community of parents, trainers, adult riders, grooms, show judges, in-gate guys and office staff who support them, teach them, hold them accountable, occasionally give them a friendly ribbing and keep the whole thing running smoothly (or as smoothly as a horse show can go —another story altogether).

What's special about this world for a child, in addition to the partnership and commitment to their equine partner, is that they have friends of all ages. The friendships come naturally and are free of drama because they share a central thing in their lives, horses and riding. I think this comes as a relief to many girls who don't always have the same kind of ease in their school friendships.

The last night there we ate at the Cheesecake Factory, object of my scorn every time I try to find a parking spot at our local mall within a few hours of any mealtime, but it was completely enjoyable as I sat with a group of fun mothers who are just as thrilled and baffled at the splendor and challenge of raising these passionate girls.

I had some tasty Thai chicken lettuce wraps that got me craving Asian flavors today so I made this dish with tofu, my daughter's favorite. You can use any vegetables you like, and lots of them. It's fast and really satisfying. Rice, vegetables, tofu, sauce...feels like Asian comfort food.

Tofu Fried Rice

Serves 4

2 cups leftover rice
2 eggs
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 16 ounce package firm tofu, drained*, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 cup carrots, diced or cut into matchsticks
1 cup red pepper strips
1 cup scallions, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon jalapeno pepper, sliced thinly
1 teaspoon minced garlic (about 2 large cloves)
1 teaspoon minced ginger (2 inch knob)
1/2 cup fresh basil or cilantro, sliced thinly

* Press tofu firmly with paper towels before cutting to remove excess moisture.

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon hoisin sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil

1. Mix sauce ingredients together and set aside.

2. Heat a very large saute pan, nonstick if you have it, over medium-high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and when it's hot, add tofu cubes. Cook for a few minutes, stirring gently to lightly brown the sides. Don't worry if they break apart a little. It's still good and you may get some little crispy bits. Remove tofu from pan

3.  Add remaining tablespoon of oil to pan and then add vegetables, jalapenos, ginger and garlic. Cook for another few minutes until vegetables are somewhat tender, but still a little crunchy. Remove from pan. Add eggs to the pan and scramble quickly, stirring vigorously. Remove from pan (see a pattern?). Now add vegetables and rice back to pan, cook for a minute to warm the rice, then add eggs and tofu and drizzle the sauce over the top, folding gently to incorporate. Heat through, sprinkle with fresh basil and serve. Note: I like to leave a little rice in the pan at the end and fry it until it's crispy to garnish the top with. I like the contrast of textures.


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