Food Waste Prevention Recipe: Soy Marinated Crispy Tofu Bowl with Garlic Kale and Brown Rice


Last week we celebrated California’s first annual Food Waste Prevention Week. As CalRecycle’s Executive Fellow and a former restaurant cook, I have been sharing strategies and ideas to reduce food waste at home!

Check out my last blog if you missed out on my tips for successful meal planning. Food Waste Prevention Week may be officially over, but there’s every reason for all of us to adopt food waste prevention as a lifestyle!

I’m sharing one of my favorite recipes that I prepare for lunches during the workweek.

I’m not vegan, but I do enjoy the tofu in this recipe. Searing the tofu is a little more labor-intensive than simply baking it in the oven, but the tofu’s brown edges resulting in the marinade caramelizing in the pan is worth the tradeoff. 

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You can maximize your time by doing several steps at once, so make sure to read the whole recipe through before embarking on your delicious adventure!

Soy Marinated Crispy Tofu Bowl with Garlic Kale and Brown Rice

Adapted from Budget Bytes

Serves 4

For the Tofu:

1 14 oz. Block Extra Firm Tofu
2 tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 tablespoons Chili Garlic Sauce (or Sirach Sauce)
1 tablespoon Ginger, grated finely
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar
1 tablespoon Vegetable Oil

For the Rice:

2 Cups Brown Rice
1 teaspoon Toasted Sesame Oil (Optional) 

For the Kale:

2 cloves Garlic
1 bunch Kale
1 teaspoon Vegetable Oil

Instructions:

1.    Begin by pressing the tofu for up to 30 minutes in order to remove excess moisture. Wrap the tofu in a clean dishcloth or napkin, and place it between two dinner plates with something heavy on top, such as a can of beans or a pot filled with water.

You don’t want to place anything too heavy that could smash the tofu. We just want to make sure the excess water is squeezed out.

Draining the tofu of excess liquid encourages crispy browning of the surface when we cook it later on.

2.    While the tofu is pressing, prepare the rice according to the package directions. Make sure to include salt! Once the rice is done cooking, fluff it with a fork and gently stir in the toasted sesame oil.

3.    While the rice is cooking, assemble the marinade. In a small bowl, stir together the soy sauce, chili garlic sauce, brown sugar and oil. Grate ginger directly into the marinade using the smallest side of a box grater or a microplate. Stir together and set aside.

4.    At this point, the Tofu should be done draining. Cut the block in half lengthwise, then cut those halves in quarters. Place the tofu in a shallow dish and pour the marinade over it. Allow the tofu to marinate for a minimum of 20 minutes, flipping the tofu over once to allow even absorption.

5.    When the tofu is marinating, prepare the kale. First, gently tear the kale into 1- to 2-inch pieces. I don’t mind kale stems but if you do, remove them. Rinse well in a colander. Mince the garlic and sauté with oil in a large pot over medium heat until softened. Add the rinsed kale to the pot and sauté until the kale is softened to your taste. I personally prefer kale with a little tooth to it, about 5 minutes.

6.    Next, the tofu should be done marinating and ready to be cooked. Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat, add about 1 tsp of oil to the pan to prevent sticking.  Working in batches, sear the tofu on both sides until browned.

7.    To assemble your meal prep, divide into 4 containers. Add about ½ to ¾ cup of rice to each container, then divide the tofu and kale among the containers. Meals should be stored in the fridge for up to a week.

8.    Pack the container with your things on your way to work in the morning and enjoy your healthy, waste-free meal. Don’t forget to pack your metal fork and cloth napkin!

Interested in other ways to reduce food waste?  Check out savethefood.com, the Public Health Alliance of Southern California’s Resource Library, and CalRecycle’s Resource Directory.

— Allegra Curiel
Posted on Mar 12, 2018

Summary: Last week we celebrated California’s first annual Food Waste Prevention Week. As CalRecycle’s Executive Fellow and a former restaurant cook, I have been sharing strategies and ideas to reduce food waste at home!