SESAME EGGPLANT & ALMOND BUTTER TOFU BOWLS
• 8 ounces (227 g) extra firm tofu
• 3 Tbsp (21 g) cornstarch
• 2 Tbsp (30 ml) sesame oil
• 1 Tbsp (15 ml) sesame oil
• 2 Tbsp (32 g) salted creamy almond, cashew or peanut butter
• 1 Tbsp (15 ml) tamari (or soy sauce if not GF)
• 1 Tbsp (15 ml) lime juice
• 1 1/2 -2 Tbsp (20-30 ml) maple syrup or coconut sugar
• 1 birds eye chili, crushed (or sub 1 tsp chili garlic sauce)
• 1 Tbsp (15 ml) toasted or untoasted sesame oil
• 2 Japanese eggplants, stem removed, halved, then cut in 1-inch pieces (skin on)
• 1 Tbsp (15 ml) tamari (or soy sauce if not gluten free)
• 1 Tbsp (15 ml) maple syrup
• optional: 1 tsp sesame seeds
1. Start by wrapping tofu in a clean towel and setting something heavy on top (like a cast iron skillet) to press out excess moisture for 10 minutes. Set aside.
2. If serving with traditional rice, start now by adding 3/4 cup (150 g) white or brown rice and 1 1/3 cups (320 ml) water to a small saucepan and bringing to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to low, cover with a secure lid, and cook for 20-25 minutes. Set aside.
3. Prepare the tofu sauce in a medium mixing bowl by whisking together sesame oil, almond butter, tamari, lime juice, maple syrup, and 1 crushed chili (or chili garlic sauce). Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more tamari for saltiness, lime juice for acidity, chili pepper for heat, or maple syrup for sweetness. Set aside.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat and cut pressed tofu into small rectangles. Toss in 3-4 Tbsp cornstarch (they should be well coated) and sauté in 2 Tbsp sesame oil, flipping once browned on the underside to ensure even browning – about 5 minutes total.
5. Add the almond butter sauce (see photo) and stir to combine. Cook for another 2-3 minutes, stirring gently to ensure even cooking on all sides. Remove from pan and set aside.
6. To the still hot pan - over medium-high heat - add 1 Tbsp sesame oil and once hot, the eggplant. Drizzle with tamari, maple syrup and sesame seeds (optional) and sauté, stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes or until browned on all sides.
7. To assemble, divide rice between serving bowls (2-3) and top with eggplant, tofu and other desired toppings, such as fresh vegetables, Asian pickles, Kimchi, or chili garlic sauce. Best when fresh.