January 26, 2014

Spicy Tofu with Coconut Rice: Another Favorite from Deborah Madison

I have a number of recipes that for me are perfect for winter; I make them once or twice each season so they never lose their special quality. One is Madison's Vegetarian Black Bean Chili, another her Lentil Croquettes; there are Stuffed Peppers from Claudia Roden, and a Smothered Cabbage with Pasta, the origin of the recipe lost in the mists of time; and a year-long favorite that I make most often in winter, a family recipe, Rice and Lentils with Caramelized Onion. I love having soup for lunch, but these other recipes are dinner. The meal pictured above, spicy stir-fried tofu with coconut rice from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone, is one I enjoy making with its interesting combination of flavors, spicy and sweet. I usually eat it with last summer's peas from the freezer, which seem a perfect accompaniment. Although the list of ingredients seem long, it's quite simple to prepare.

The Rice
1 3/4 cup basmati rice
4 teas roasted peanut oil (as usual I didn't have all the ingredients, using regular peanut oil and white rice)
1 small onion finely diced
1 Tbs minced ginger
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 teas turmeric
1 15 oz can coconut milk
3 kaffir lime leaves (I have no idea what these are) or 1/2 teas lime zest

  1. Wash rice and soak for 30 minutes, then drain (I skipped this)
  2. Warm the oil in a 3 quart saucepan with onion, ginger, garlic and turmeric. Cook over medium-low heat for 8 minutes
  3. Add rice and 1/2 teas salt. Stir to coat grains, then add coconut milk, 2 cups water, and lime leaves or zest. 
  4. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer until rice is done, 15-18 minutes, stirring a couple of times. Turn off heat and let sit while you prepare tofu. It will be wet at first but will absorb moisture as it sits.

The Tofu
2 10 oz boxes silken-firm or extra firm tofu
1 Tbs ground coriander
1 Tbs ground cumin
1/2 teas paprika
1/4 teas cayenne
2 teas sugar
2 Tbs peanut oil
4 scallions, including half of greens, coarsely chopped
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
1/2 cup cilantro, chopped

  1. Drain the tofu, then cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
  2. Combine spices, 1 teas salt and sugar in a bowl, add tofu and stir gently with a rubber spatula.
  3. Heat oil in a wok or skillet, add tofu, and stir fry until crispy and golden, 5 to 7 minutes (or a bit longer)
  4. Add scallions and cook until wilted, then add lime juice.
  5. Serve tofu over the rice, garnished with cilantro.

Serves 6....enjoy!


  1. Yum! I do like tofu but others around me are concerned with soybeans (GMO)...a new recipe alwyas is inspiring. Thanks, Altoon

    1. Maggie, I use organic tofu, available at the supermarket.