Seared tofu with sugar snap peas

Maybe tofu isn’t so hip anymore, but I think this searing technique ups it’s game a bit. Searing sounds much better than burning, but haven’t you noticed burning food is somewhat hip these days so why not tofu?  The recipe is adapted from the New York Times “Hot and sour seared tofu with sugar snap peas.” The New York Times author recommends patience in searing the tofu, i.e. no peaking, just leave it there for a few minutes.

Most of Locavorious’ sugar snap peas came from the Goetz Family Farm in Riga this year.  This recipe also works equally well with frozen chopped asparagus and green beans too.  I’ve also tossed in a cup of peas…making it “seared tofu with sugar snap peas and peas” which is more fun to say.



  • 1 (14-ounce) package extra-firm tofu
  • 4 large garlic cloves, grated
  • 2 small jalapeño chiles, seeds removed if desired, thinly sliced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 ½ teaspoons grated ginger root
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh lime juice, more to taste
  • 1 ½ teaspoon toasted (Asian) sesame oil, more for drizzling
  • 1 ½ teaspoons Asian fish sauce
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons peanut oil, more if needed
  • 12 ounces sugar snap peas, thawed and sliced
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  •  Sesame seeds, for serving
  •  Cooked rice, for serving
  •  Chopped cilantro or basil, for serving

Drain tofu, wrap it with a clean dish towel or several layers of paper towels and place on a rimmed plate; top with another plate and a weight (a can works). Let drain further.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: In a small bowl, combine garlic, chiles, soy sauce, ginger, lime juice, sesame oil, fish sauce and honey.

Unwrap tofu and cut crosswise into 3/4-inch-thick slices. Pat slices dry.

Heat a large skillet over high heat until very hot, about 5 minutes. Add peanut oil and let heat for 30 seconds, then carefully add tofu. Don’t touch tofu for 2 to 3 minutes, letting it sear until golden brown. Flip and sear for another 2 to 3 minutes. Move tofu to one side of pan (or stack pieces on top of one another to make room in pan), then add sugar snap peas, scallions and, if needed, a few drops more peanut oil. Stir-fry vegetables until they start to soften, 1 to 2 minutes.

Add sauce and stir well, cooking until peas are done to taste, another minute or two. Spoon sauce all over tofu, unstacking it if necessary.

Sprinkle sesame seeds over tofu and vegetables and serve over rice, sprinkled with cilantro or basil.

Evan Sung for The New York Times

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