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Vegan Stuffed Tofu with Dark Sauce

Little golden crispy blocks of tofu, stuffed with a "meaty" mixed veggies filling and served with a shiny, umami, and savory sauce - you'll want to double up on your steamed rice with this dish cuz it's straight-up irresistible until the very last crumb of the tofu and very last drop of the sauce.

Stuffed tofu, or as they're called in Chinese, "Niang" tofu, is a traditional dish you can often see at a holiday celebration, wedding, or any joyful occasion. In Chinese cuisine, "Niang" refers to the cooking technique of stuffing and you can just about stuff anything - just from my family members' cookings, I've had niang eggplant, niang zucchini, niang bell pepper... and of course, niang tofu!

There's a reason why this dish is a frequent start at celebration dinners. The stuffed tofu resemble stuffed pockets, which in Chinese culture is an auspicious symbol for prosperity and good luck, so what better time to make them than the holiday season!

Traditionally the stuffing is made of minced pork and veggies but to veganize the dish, I just used the tofu that we'll scoop out of each center and mixed with some mushrooms and carrots. Make sure you stuff each cube as much as you can by pushing the stuffing down but without breaking the tofu shell.

This dish is also gluten-free, hearty, and very filling. See the video below for how I carved out the tofu pockets and stuffed them. If you try this recipe please tag me on Instagram and Tiktok ^^


INGREDIENTS:

1 16oz extra firm tofu

1 medium carrot, chopped

4 oz shiitake mushroom, chopped

2 scallion, chopped and separate whites and greens

3 garlic cloves, minced

1 teaspoon tamari/soy sauce, or more to taste

1 teaspoon coconut amino

1/2 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 teaspoon arrowroot powder

Pinch of white pepper

Cooking oil, use high smoke point and neutral tasting oil like canola, sunflower seed, peanut, etc


For the sauce

2 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 cup vegetable stock or water

1/2 tablespoon tamari/soy sauce

1 tablespoon coconut amino

1/2 teaspoon brown sugar or to taste

1 teaspoon arrowroot powder

Cooking oil


TO MAKE:

- Cut the tofu block into 6 cubes, carve out the center carefully without cutting through the shell;

- Save the carved-out tofu for filling, mash it up a little with a spoon;

- In a large nonstick pan, heat a drizzle of oil over medium-high heat, sauté the scallion whites and garlic for about 2 minutes till fragrant;

- Add in the carrots, cook for 1-2 minutes till softened, then add in the mushrooms, continue to sauté till the mushrooms let out the liquid;

- Add the carved out tofu into the pan, mash and mix with the spatula, and season with vinegar, tamari or soy sauce, and coconut amino, cook till most liquid is gone;

- Add in the scallion greens, a small pinch of white pepper, and the arrowroot powder, stir to combine and if the mixture becomes too dry, add a splash of warm water, keep stirring till the mixture becomes well combined and it should be able to stick together; 

- Stuff the mixture back into the tofu shells, add and push down the stuffing as much as you can without breaking the shell, this is to prevent the fillings falling out during pan frying;

- In another nonstick pan, cover the bottom of the pan with a thin layer of cooking oil and heat over medium heat, fry the tofu cubes till all sides are golden brown, about 3 minutes each side, or adjust depending on the heat of your stove;

- Meanwhile, prepare the sauce by sautéing the garlic in a bit of oil till fragrant, then add in the tamari sauce and coconut amino, bring to a gentle boil;

- Mix the arrowroot powder with the water or stock, keep stirring and slowly pour into the saucepan, add the sweetener to taste, bring to a gentle boil again then lower the heat to low;

- Let the sauce simmer and stir frequently, the longer you let the sauce heat the thicker it'll be, turn off the heat when you reach your preferred consistency;

- Pour sauce over the tofu cubes, garnish with more scallion greens and white sesame seeds, serve immediately with steamed rice, enjoy!


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