Today I was talking to my friend Janet about being tired after work and not feeling like cooking, and I followed up with a bit of my usual bragging about how I can make a decent dinner in as little as 5-10 minutes (sometimes even that seems like too much, though, which is why Chinese delivery exists). It’s true! I can make dinner that fast! And I do it all the time, especially if Evan has to work late or run an errand in the evening.
I hate to waste food, so my first priority with quickie-dinners is to use up scraps. I never use a whole block of tofu when I’m making a recipe, and if I put the extra back in the fridge, it inevitably goes bad before I get to it. I’ve learned a trick, though, and that’s to freeze it! Cut it into strips, press out the excess water, put it in a baggie or container, and stick it in the fridge. It’ll turn a weird yellow color when it’s frozen, but that’s okay. Just make sure you take it out of the fridge with enough time to defrost before you want to use it! The coolest part about freezing tofu is that it totally changes the texture—it goes from being soft and wet to being kind of chewy and spongy. You’ve probably had tofu like that before in restaurants and wondered how to make yours taste like that. Now you know! It’s awesome.
I’m also a rice-hoarder. When we get delivery food, there’s always about double the amount of rice included in the bag than we could ever use in one sitting, so I save the leftovers. If I’m cooking rice, I make extras. If you know you’ll be eating the rice within a few days, you can put it in the fridge—otherwise, freeze it. It’s so nice to have rice all ready to go when you want it.
So here’s what I made tonight, since I was smart and remembered to take the tofu out this morning. It literally took 10 minutes, and only about 5 of those minutes were spent doing anything related to preparing the meal.
SUPER-QUICK TOFU & ASPARAGUS (vegan)
Put some sesame oil in a cast iron pan and put it on a medium-high burner. While the pan is heating up, wash and dry the asparagus. When the pan is hot, drop in the tofu strips and the asparagus—I like to do everything in one pan. Sprinkle with 7-spice.
While the tofu and asparagus are cooking, heat up the rice in the microwave (I know, I know…you can do it on the stove, too, but I usually put it in the microwave in the same bowl I plan to eat out of to cut down on dishes). Stir in a tiny drizzle of sesame oil and set aside.
Flip the tofu and asparagus after about three minutes. Keep an eye on it so it doesn’t burn. When the tofu is nicely browned on both sides and the asparagus is bright green with a little bit of char, slide everything on top of your rice. Serve with a healthy squeeze of Sriracha sauce, and maybe an extra sprinkle of 7-spice.
DONE. Ten minutes from fridge to table, one pan, and one bowl. (See?)