Pan Fried Tofu with Chili Marinade and Stir Fried Vegetables – Low FODMAP & Gluten Free

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One of Ev’s and my favourite restaurants is a Szechuan place about a 5 minute walk from our apartment. It’s dangerously close, so our rule is that we can’t buy dinner more than once a week. It’s right next to the sushi restaurant that we used to spend all our money at… for all our neighbourhood could never be described as the most desirable one out there, it is not lacking in cultural diversity, which makes for a great selection of restaurants… I just wish I could eat at more of them! But if I’m careful then it’s normally doable – I just need to research the menus beforehand.

One of the best meals we’re had at this restaurant is the “choose your meat and tofu dry pot;” They even let us do a “tofu and tofu” dry pot, though it’s not on the menu and we got a few confused looks. About a month ago we decided to replicate this meal at home, or at least try to. It worked out quite well, so we’ll definitely be making it again.

FODMAP Notes

  1. Tofu, while made from soy beans, mainly contains the proteins, so most fruct mals can tolerate a moderate serving of it. Make sure you only buy firm tofu, not silken tofu, which hasn’t been strained and is higher in the FODMAP galactans.
  2. Both chili paste and oil can sometimes contain garlic – make sure you read the labels and choose one without.
  3. The stir fry veggies that are shown below contain onion (Ev doesn’t have fruct mal); however it’s in such big chunks that it’s easy to pick out. This is fine for me, as I know my limits. If you are still on elimination, or are very sensitive to onion, do not cook with it in the pot to the end, as FODMAPs are water soluble and, if you do not stir fry properly (high heat, very fast) then water will leech out from the veggies, including fructans from the onion.
  4. Chinese five spice powder is low FODMAP in 1 tsp. serves, which is fine, because you normally don’t need more than that through an entire recipe.
  5. Garlic infused oil is FODMAP friendly.
  6. Sesame seeds are low FODMAP.

Pan Fried Tofu with Chili Marinade

Serves 3-4

  • 2 cups extra firm tofu
  • 1 1/2 cup soy sauce/tamari
  • 1/4 cup chili paste
  • 1/4 cup chili oil, make sure you get a good amount of seeds in there if you like it spicy
  • 1 tsp. 5 spice powder – see above
  • 1-2 tsp. of garlic infused olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. toasted sesame seeds

About an hour and a half before you want to eat the tofu, slice them as shown and place them sandwiched between two chopping boards with paper towel in between, so that the layers go: chopping board, paper towel, tofu, paper towel, chopping board. Place a weight on top, it shouldn’t be more than a kilo. Leave the tofu like this for 20 minutes, so that as much of the liquid inside is squeezed out as possible. This allows it to soak up as much of the marinade as possible in the next step.

While you’re waiting, mix the soy sauce, chili oil, 5 spice powder and garlic infused oil together in a tall/narrow container and set aside. When the 20 minutes is up, carefully place each of the tofu slices in the marinade container, ensuring that they are fully covered, and leave it to soak up all the flavours for another half an hour. While this is marinading, wash the rice and prepare the vegetables for the stir fry listed below.

Once the marinading process is complete, remove the tofu and pat them down/wipe off as many seeds etc as you can. Seal a fry pan and pan fry the tofu over a medium-high heat for about 3-4 minutes a side, until they are slightly crispy. Serve with a garnish of the toasted sesame seeds and dried red chili peppers.

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Stir Fried Vegetables and Chinese 5 Spice Rice

Serves 3-4

  • 4 cups of vegetables suitable for stir frying, such as julienned carrots, sliced zucchini, red capsicum etc – basically 1 cup per person
  • The left over marinade from the tofu dish above, with the garlic picked out if necessary
  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked Basmati rice, washed
  • 1-2 tsp. five spice powder – see “notes” above

Cook the rice according to these instructions, stirring in the 2 tsp. of 5 spice powder (bought or homemade with the recipe above in “notes”) before you bring it to the boil. This cooking process takes 30 minutes from the time you have finished washing the rice and it has come to the boil, so make sure you time it so that the individual dishes are done as close together as possible.

Stir fry the vegetables over a high heat for a minute (you want them still slightly crunch) before adding in the leftover marinade from the tofu dish. Keep on the heat for another 30 seconds or so to heat the sauce through properly and then transfer to a serving dish.

The best way to time this dish is to wash the rice and start its cooking process before you begin to pan fry the tofu, due to the time the rice requires to cook as well as the tofu requiring more attention. The stir fried veggies only take 5 minutes at the most to cook and plate, so they should be done last. If you need a more in-depth description of how to stir fry vegetables, then look at this recipe.

If you like spiced and spicy foods, then this is the dish for you. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

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Tofu and Vegetable Stir Fry with a Chili Sauce – FODMAPs, Fructose Friendly & Gluten Free

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The following recipe is quick and easy, and uses a simple chili sauce to give the flavours a little oomph. The first time we made it was early on in Ev’s stint as a vegetarian, and we boiled (for 10 minutes) and cut up two corn cobs into 2 inch chunks before stir frying them with the rest of the veggies. He coined the phrase “vegetarian ribs” for the corn cobettes and it has stuck.

For this post I omitted the corn – as I know that many of you following a low FODMAPs diet have issues with it unless it is in meal or starch form – and replaced it with the tofu. If you want to add the corn back in, rather than/as well as the tofu, then feel free.

Notes:

  1. If you use castor sugar, 4 tbsp. should be plenty. Dextrose is less sweet than sucrose, so you might need to add a little more to taste.
  2. You can play around with ratios in this sauce, as in any sauce, to make the flavour combinations you prefer best.
  3. If you wish to try the original version I mentioned, with sweet corn on the cob, please be aware that sweet corn contains polyols, so it might trigger your FM symptoms.

Simple Stir Fry

Serves 2 adults.

Chili Sauce

  • 6 tbsp. GF soy sauce
  • 6 tbsp. rice wine
  • 4 tbsp. rice wine vinegar
  • 4 tbsp. chili paste sans onions/garlic
  • 4 tbsp. castor sugar/dextrose – to taste
  • 1″ freshly minced ginger – approx. 2 tsp.
  • 2 tsp. corn starch

Other Ingredients

  • 1 cup extra firm tofu
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 large carrot
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 small head bok choy
  • 2/3 cup uncooked white rice

Firstly, place all your sauce ingredients in a jar – with a well fitting lid – and shake until they are combined. This might take a little effort to combine the cornstarch properly – I find that adding the cornstarch into the half of the soy sauce and stirring vigorously, before any of the other ingredients are added in, is a faster process.

Begin cooking your rice as per the instructions on this page. You can use a rice cooker if you have one – we have had rotten luck with rice cookers and the best rice we have made has only been since our rice cooker died 2 years ago. This cooking process takes 30 minutes, so get it going early to avoid a delay later on.

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Now that your rice has started cooking, dice the zucchini, capsicum and the tofu into 1 inch chunks, and julienne the carrots so that they are appropriate for chop stick use. Slice the bok choy so that you separate the stalk from the leaves. Dice the stalks into 1 inch chunks and the leaves into strips. Sit them aside. You should begin the process of cooking the tofu/veggies when the rice only has 10 minutes left, otherwise you will have either cold rice and hot vegetables, or vice versa.

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Seal a saucepan (or a wok if you have one) with olive oil and quickly sear the vegetables over a high heat. Stir frying is all about cooking quickly over a high heat, rather than stewing slowly over a lower heat.

After a minute, add in the chili sauce and tofu continue to cook for another minute, slowly folding the sauce and tofu through – tofu requires gentle handling and it shouldn’t take long to begin to thicken, once the heat activates the cornstarch. Once you see it thickening, remove the dish from the heat and add in the bok choy leaves, mixing through.

If you have timed it correctly, the rice should also be done. Perfect! If your vegetables are a little too well done – i.e. they don’t retain much of a crunch – then don’t worry. It can take a little practice to get this right and not be worried about the veggies not being fully heated through. Mine still don’t turn out perfectly every time, so stress less. Practice makes perfect, even for something as simple as stir frying veggies.

If you want the sauce to be much thicker, then pre-thickening it in a small sauce pan would be the way to go. Bring it to the boil and simmer until it visibly thickens, before removing it from the heat and setting it aside to wait for the veggies.

You have a couple of options for serving:

  1. Pour the vegetable and tofu mix into a serving dish and give everybody a serving of rice in a bowl. People can then take what they want with their chop sticks – this prevents the rice from getting soggy if too much sauce soaks in.
  2. Place a serving of rice in a bowl and top with vegetables/tofu. Just make sure you don’t let too much extra sauce go in or the rice will get too mushy for easy chop-sticking.

You can see I chose option #2, because I was photographing it – we normally would go with option #1.

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