Smoked Tofu Stir Fry

A version of this article will be popping up over on Honest Cooking in a few days. But I couldn’t resist sharing it here, first!!

smoked tofu stir fry recipe

Several months ago, while in China, I waxed poetic about the virtues of good, smoked, baked tofu. I shared an excellent recipe for tofu stir fry over on Honest Cooking- it was easy, tasty, fast, and fresh.

Now I’m back in the U.S., and the ideas of easy, tasty, fast, and fresh food can be found EVERYWHERE around me. I’m elated!

smoked tofu_top view

Since I’ve gotten a job over at Union Market, I’ve found myself exposed to a number of folks who are bringing back the artisan foodways of yesteryear. From farmhouse dairies, to homemade preserves, to in-house curing of meats, to family oyster farms and local bakeries, small business have come forward to provide and promote a small scale production of quality, local, and tasty provisions. And this is not just happening at my local market, but all over the city, too. In fact, it’s happening in cities all over the U.S..

But back to the offerings at Union Market: Neopol Smokery is part of this wonderful artisanal movement. Based in Baltimore, Maryland, their provisions feature a variety of smoked fish, but also extend to smoked spices, herbs, and most intriguing to me – smoked tofu.

smoked tofu+cross sections

I brought a cube of Neopol’s smoked tofu home with me last weekend. This isn’t your typical, store-bought, mild-flavored, densely packed smoked tofu. No, it’s a grill-marked, heavily scented, rich and smoky tofu, weighty, but pillowy and then firm, all at the same time. Slicing off a raw piece at home, I deemed the intense smokiness beckoning to be accompanied by other earthy, umami-rich ingredients such as mushrooms and leeks. The tofu, somewhat bland on its own, desired a kick of flavors that could easily be lent from soy, ginger, and mirin.

leeks, ginger, and mushrooms

Now, both as a writer and a cook, I shoot for variety in my work. But sometimes, when I come across something so good and so fresh and made with some much love and care, variety just gets pushed to the sidelines. So here it is, another recipe for a smoked tofu stir fry.

**For all my friends who have got a smoker in your backyard, I encourage you to try making your own smoked tofu. I know not everyone has access to Neopol’s amazing treasures. Of course, the store-bought stuff is a fine enough substitute….and that’s not said with any amount of snuff or anything…

tofu stir fry with leeks and mushrooms

Fresh Smoked Tofu Stir Fry

  • 1 medium leek, greens and whites, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cube smoked tofu, approx 8 oz., thinly sliced
  • 4 oz. mushrooms, any variety (cremini & hen-of-the-woods used here), chopped/sliced into small pieces
  • 2 Tbsp. mirin
  • 1 Tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp. sesame oil
  • 1 small nub ginger, finely minced (approx 1/2 tsp)
  • 6 oz. ground turkey
  1. Heat a bit of vegetable oil over high heat on a large skillet or wok. When oil is hot, add garlic and leeks. Saute for 3-5 minutes, or until leeks are soft.
  2. Lower heat slightly to medium high. Add tofu and mushrooms. Let cook for 3-5 minutes, turning occasionally to saute. Don’t stir too vigorously, or the tofu will break up. You want the tofu to brown on the sides and the mushrooms to become soft.
  3. Mix the mirin, soy sauce, sesame oil, and ginger in a small bowl. Add to the stir fry, and sautee. Add the ground turkey, and cook until turkey is well done, approx 5 more minutes.
  4. Serve, hot, accompanied by rice.
If you love spicy fare, this dish would do well with the addition of a couple of chili peppers or a teaspoon of hot sauce.
Yield: 2-3 servings, as a main dish


My Sandy Day

You’ve all seen pictures and heard the news of Sandy’s hit here on the East Coast last night. First off, we’re totally fine. There’s one person still sleeping in our bed (and it’s 1pm), but other than that, it’s a normal Tuesday.

We had a gorgeous day here on Saturday. By the time Sunday rolled around, the grey skies reminded us that yes, we really were in for a storm. The weather reports oscillated between it being bad, really bad, and the worst. One late turn, and Sandy’s eye could be focused on us, rather than closer up north. So of course, we prepared for the worst.

On Sunday night (we were a little late in the emergency preparedness process) the DiploMan and I headed out to gather some food, water, and beer. Enough to last a few days without having go to the store, at least. He had just found out that work was called off on Monday, so we were going to hole up, and have a hurricane party to celebrate.

This is what we found at the store.

grocery aisles

Okay to be real, this was only the canned food aisle, and a little bit of the water and cereal aisles. I was tempted pretend I didn’t know a thing about this storm, and be the one person in the store buying eggs, milk, cheese, and sausages during a semi-emergency state. But I refrained, but mostly because we had to save room in our bags to carry all our beers home.

Being from the West Coast, I’m used to earthquake preparedness. Mind you, being “prepared” for an earthquake really only happens when you are in elementary school, and you bring a bag of canned food with your name on it at the beginning of the school year. And then the first week of school practice your ‘duck and cover’ routine as a class. Other than that, there is no earthquake preparation. Earthquakes give no warnings!

We walked home from the store, and by that time a light drizzle had started coming down on us. I woke up on Monday to hear the rain rapping on the windows. Nothing too crazy, just a rainy morning. I played on my computer for a little bit, and then a couple of our friends came over. We popped a few drinks and played some games. I took a nap. We had an amazing dinner: a hurricane soup, comprised of mostly leftover vegetables from the vegetable drawer (recipe below) and spaghetti with sausage ragu (sausage c/o Eco-Friendly Foods).

sandy soup

We kept peering out the window, waiting for the worst. We kept our eyes on our Twitter and Facebook feeds, eventually realizing that it was New York who was in for the worst.

While we here in DC were ‘victims’ of non-stop rain and pretty gusty winds all day, it was no match to what my friends up in NY saw. I kept checking the front page of the NY Times, which was constantly updating the website with photos of the city under four feet of water. I couldn’t help but think: the art in Chelsea!! The trees in Brooklyn!! The basement storage rooms of all the restaurants in the West Village!

Here in DC, our power stayed on, we were connected to wifi, and we were warm and dry. Our bellies were full. Our shelves were stocked. We even went out and danced in the rain for a bit.

ready for the rain

This is how you dress to go dance in the rain in Logan Circle.

Thank you anyway, friends and family, for thinking of us and for all the little texts and emails and phone calls that came our way. Unfortunately, my day was nothing but a stormy day stuck inside with a few boys (I went just slightly crazy with cabin fever) and a lot of drinks.

Hurricane Sandy Soup


  • 2 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 small yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 4-6 large kale leaves, stemmed and coarsely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 small bunch broccolini, florets only
  • 2 cups spinach leaves, loosely packed


  1. Combine first four ingredients in a medium pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. If liquid looks low (neither the DiploMan nor I like too much broth in our soups, but some of you do!), add up to another cup of water. Add chopped celery and broccolini, cover and simmer for another 10 minutes. Finally add spinach. Stir and let simmer, uncovered, for 5-10 more minutes. Serve from the pot, hot, alongside bread, pasta, or salad.

Options: (1) Carrots, cubed potatoes, bok choy, or any other veggies you might have lying around. Or, (2) crack a few eggs into the soup after adding the spinach, so you have a heartier serving with poached eggs. (3) If serving as an entree, vermicelli noodles would fare well in this soup. Make sure to soak the noodles until they are clear and add them with the spinach.

Yield: 4 appetizer-sized servings, 2 entree-sized servings

Feeling a bit of Fall: An Updated Zucchini Recipe

Zucchini Patties with corn and nectarine salad

From the baseball diamond to the dinner table; that’s just how I roll.

I don’t think I ever shared with you these zucchini patties that I created awhile back for RecipeRelay. Fall, and Fall-inspired cooking, has been a lot on my mind lately (even though the weather today claims to hit up to 80 degrees. WHAT?!). This recipe was based on summery ingredients such as corn, zucchini, and nectarines. But I’m going to go out on a limb and say, without having actually tested this yet, to substitute that corn for some sauteed mushroom and onions, and to swap that zucchini for any of the 5 varieties of winter squashes and pumpkins in rotation at the store, and nix the nectarines for some pears. Add some walnuts into that salad for an extra nuttiness. Voila! Somehow I’ve found the perfect recipe to bridge this oddly warm Fall day.

Plus, It’s a great way to add a little rotation into your increasingly staid cooking routine (don’t be mad, we all get into weird cooking routines).

shredded carrots

Here is the original recipe. Do what you will with substitutions!!

Zucchini Patties with Nectarine and Corn Salad

originally published on Recipe Relay August 9, 2012


  • 3 small to medium zucchini, grated (suggestion: substitute one medium-sized acorn squash, or half a butternut squash, or a kabocha pumpkin!)
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 large shallot (or 2 small ones)
  • 1 ripe nectarine, finely diced (suggestion: substitute one pear, or crisp apple)
  • 1 small plum, finely diced
  • 1 large ear white corn, boiled and cooled (suggestion: substitue one half onion, sauteed, and one handful of cremini mushrooms, sauteed)
  • 1 small bunch chervil (10-15 leaves)
  • 1 small carrot, finely grated
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts, finely chopped
  • 4-5 zucchini blossoms, thinly chopped
  • olive oil
  • balsamic vinegar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • ricotta cheese


  1. Grate zucchini with the large holes of a grater. Lightly season and set over a double layer of paper towels lined in a colander. The zucchini will start to ‘sweat’, so set aside to drain for 30 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, make your peach and corn salsa. Boil one ear of corn, cool, and pat dry. Finely mince 1/2 of a large shallot and combine in a medium bowl with lemon juice and 1 tsp. salt. Finely dice peach and plum, and cut kernels off one ear of corn. Add into bowl and incorporate thoroughly. Coarsely chop chervil and mix in. Cover and set in refrigerator to cool.
  3. One handful at a time, squeeze excess liquid from zucchini and transfer to a large bowl. Finely grate a carrot, mince the other half of the shallot, and mix with zucchini. To chop pine nuts, pulse in a food processor or spice mill a few times until roughly chopped. Or, use my method, which is to seal in a ziploc bag and pound with a rolling pin for a minute. Add pine nuts, breadcrumbs, eggs, salt and pepper, and mix well. Finely slice zucchini blossoms and mix, then add a dash of olive oil and a few splashes of balsamic vinegar. Taste, and season according to your preferences.
  4. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1/4 cup measuring cup, spoon zucchini mixture into the palm of your hand and form into a small, 2-3 inch patty. The mixture will be fairly wet, but will stay together easily. There should be just about enough to make 12 patties.
  5. After lining up all the patties, heat olive oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. When the oil starts to let off a bit of smoke, turn heat down to medium. Carefully drop zucchini patties into the pan, 4-5 at a time so as to not overcrowd the pan. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side, depending on how hot your oil (and how crispy/burnt you like your patties!).
  6. Transfer cooked patties to a plate lined with a paper towel to drain/cool.
  7. On each plate, spoon a hefty dollop of fresh ricotta and season with salt and olive oil. Place a few patties on top, and dress with the peach and corn salad.
Freezer option: After making the patties in Step 4, place the baking sheet in the freezer until patties harden. Place in an airtight Ziploc bag or container. When ready, take out of freezer (without defrosting) and cook on an oiled skillet for 5-6 minutes on each side.
Yield: 12 patties, serves 3-4

Uncooked patties

Hometown Heroes

My Facebook feed looks as if it has officially become the twitter feed for the San Francisco Giants. Every single one of my Bay Area brethren have made a pledge of allegiance to the black and orange this week. Bandwagon? Slightly. Annoying? Mildly. Do I love it? Oh, certainly.

AT&T Park Marquee

It doesn’t matter if you’re a sports fan or not, you’ve got to admit there’s something special about a team that shuts out their opponent 9-0 after coming back from 2 games down in Game 7 of a NLCS title game. Well, I guess if you really can’t stand sports I might have lost you somewhere in that statement. Just think of the best comeback from behind EVER, and that might put a smile on your face.

Both the DiploMan and I aren’t huge sports fanatics, in fact, I am more than he is. Which is a little surprising, given that he’s very athletic and even more competitive. But we are big fans of team effort, of camraderie, of hometown spirit, of the underdog, and of celebrations. We’ve found that it’s important to keep these things in mind, especially while living abroad. And yes, I guess to be cheesy, it’s important in life and marriage too. Which is why we were hootin’ and hollerin’ from our beds at home (while watching TV, get your minds out of the gutter) as that last pop fly was caught last night. Rooting for your hometown is really the best.

Also, I’m going to go ahead and cause a stir, and say that they have the best ballpark in all of the Major League:

AT&T Park

Do you have a favorite team? Who do YOU pledge allegiance to?


Privacy. We have very little of it these days.

playing peekaboo

I’m curious to hear what your thoughts are on internet privacy. I’m not one to be particularly shy about sharing my life online, and in fact, I sort of love it. Have you noticed? I’m all for the ability to document my daily fortunes and misgivings as I navigate through my ever-unstable life. I’m totally into perusing my reader and catching up on all the bloggers that I’ve come to know as if we were friends. Most of them don’t know I follow them as closely as I do…is that creepy?

But some people, like my significant other, aren’t big fans of the whole sharing-your-life-online thing. Which, particularly given the nature of his work, I sort of understand.

Notwithstanding reasons to do with his job, he’s taught me that not everyone likes being as publicly accessible as I do. Which is difficult, when all I want to do is blog about what we do every day.

Now, security is a different matter. I’m all for being as secure as possible. Living in China, where supposedly all computers return home bugged and corrupted, and every ounce of our lives were under the watchful eye of Big Brother, I was fairly cognizant of secure portals. But privacy? I’m sure some poor Chinese soul is out there who knows every bit of minutia of my boring and food-obsessed life.

So that’s why, in the vein of other bloggers out there who have significant others who also don’t want to be in the direct spotlight, I’m giving my man an alias. I’ve also gone back and painstakingly combed through two years of blogging, and hopefully did not miss any mentions. There might be one or two pictures left as evidence. Because although I like to share everything, not everyone does. So in case you’re wondering who DiploMan is from now on, it’s him.


Get it? Because he’s a Diplomat, and he’s my Man. (And he takes pictures too!)

Okay, fine, it’s the only clever moniker I can think of right now. Go ahead, groan. I know it’s cheesy. But it’s better than…

Oh wait, I almost just said his name.

This privacy thing is tough.