Hello dear reader-
Recently my husband, Dan, and I travelled to Mt Tremblant, Canada for an Iron Man competition. He was competing…not me! He’s a plant-based triathlete and the night before long endurance races like this, his goal is to eat a high carbohydrate dinner with moderate amounts of protein. In response, I made one of his favorite entrees, a very filling Sweet and Sour Crispy Tofu Rice Salad. It seemed to have done the trick. He did so well in the race, he qualified for the Iron Man World Championships!
You can watch the Beantown Kitchen Cooking show video showing the preparation of this dish:
Not only does the dish offer the protein/carb target Dan looks for pre-race, but it is also calcium and iron rich and relatively low in calories. Just as a comparison, imagine making it with chicken. There would be about 15% more calories per serving. Additionally, the plant-based version has twice as much iron, and three times as much calcium, per serving. And there is no cholesterol at all in the tofu rice salad…as plant-foods simply do not contain cholesterol. Chicken, red meat, fish, dairy and eggs on the other hand do contain cholesterol.
In the video, I highlight all of the details about the nutritional content of the dish.
The key to obtaining lots of flavor and just the right texture when making crispy tofu is two things 1) pressing the tofu and 2) spicing it liberally.
I usually use a very handy device called a tofu press, for pressing the tofu. It looks like this.
But I didn’t bring it to Canada with me. So I used another method that works well. It will work for you too.
Remove the tofu from the package. Cover a plate with paper towel or a kitchen towel and then lay the tofu on top of it. Cover it with more towel. On top of this, the idea is to lay something very heavy to press out the water. A pile of heavy books works well or anything else you can find. I used a tea kettle filled with water as that was the best I could do in a hotel room kitchen.
While this the tofu is being pressed, you can do some of the other prep steps for the recipe, like cooking the rice, making the dressing, sauteeing the raisins, and chopping the pepper and walnuts.
Once the tofu is done, it is time to dice and season, and then sautee it in a small amount of oil. Turn the tofu to ensure it becomes golden and lightly crispy on each side. This may take 10-20 minutes.
Now is the time to combine all of the ingredients: the prepared dressing, cooked brown rice, sauteed raisins, some chopped walnuts, a diced green pepper and the crispy tofu.
Combine all of the ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Enjoy this dish right away, or refrigerate for a few hours. The flavors will marry with time and taste even better.
This is Dan five hours after first diving in the lake to swim 1.2 miles, and then hopping on his bike for 56 miles and then running a half marathon.
Just moments before he had crossed the finish line with a time that qualified him for the Iron Man World Championship. At 52 years old, he’s in the best shape of his life. Is it due to his plant-based diet? Who knows..but one thing is for sure, it’s certainly not hurting.
To read about Dan’s experience competing in a full Iron Man in 2016, and the lessons I learned from it, read here.
With warmest wishes xo,
Sweet and Sour Crispy Tofu and Rice Salad
- 1 14 ounce Tofu firm or extra-firm
- 2 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Onion powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1/2 tsp Pepper
- 2 tsp olive oil
Sweet and Sour Dressing
- 6 tbs wine vinegar
- 1 1/4 tsp Dijon mustard
- 1 1/2 tbs maple syrup
- 2 medium sized garlic cloves, minced
- 1 1/4 tsp Salt to taste
- 1/2 tsp black pepper to taste
- 5 tbs raisins sauteed (optional)
Rest of the Ingredients
- 3 cups cooked brown rice medium or long grain
- 1 medium sized green pepper medium dice
- 4 tablespoons walnuts chopped
- Press the tofu for 10-20 minutes, using a tofu press or by placing it between two towels and then placing a pile of heavy books on top.
- In a medium bowl, stir together the garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper.
- Dice the pressed tofu into bite sized pieces and then toss in the bowl with the spices until well covered.
- Add olive oil to a large non-stick pan and heat on medium high heat.
- Toss in the spiced and diced tofu and sautee for 10-20 minutes until browned and crispy. Turn the tofu periodically to brown each side.
Sweet and Sour Dressing
- While the tofu is sauteeing, in a glass jar or medium sized bowl, toss the dressing ingredients until well mixed. Set aside.
- In a small sauce pan heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the raisins and sautee for a minute or two until plump, Set aside.
Rest of the Ingredients
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the rice, green pepper, walnuts, raisins, tofu and dressing. Toss to mix well. Enjoy immediately or refrigerate. The flavors will marry and be even tastier with time.