A vegan take on the Phillipines’ national dish, Tofu Adobo is savory, sweet, tangy, rich, easy to make yet completely delicious dish.
- 2-16 oz packages (454g each) super firm tofu (see note 1)
- 6-8 cloves of garlic (or less or a whole head, measure with your heart)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns (see note 2)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar or rice vinegar (see note 3)
- 1/3 cup reduced sodium soy sauce
- 1 1/2 tablespoons coconut sugar (or any kind), optional
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, optional
- 1 cup water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons arrowroot powder or cornstarch
- Green onion and cilantro for garnish, optional
- 1 pound baby bok choy
- 1 tablespoon sesame oil or vegetable broth or water
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- Note: Before we start, for this recipe you’ll need a non-reactive pan. According to The Kitchn, “Aluminum, cast iron, and copper are all “reactive.” Stainless steel, ceramic, glass, and metal cookware with enamel coating are all “non-reactive.” The material of the pan may mess with the flavor, and turn the food a funny color. So try to use a non-reactive pan.
- Prep tofu: Start by cubing the tofu and baking it on a silicone baking mat or parchment paper lined baking tray at 425 degrees Fahrenheit (218 degrees Celsius) for 30 minutes, flipping the tofu at the 20 minute mark.
- Prep ingredients: While that’s baking, peel and thinly slice your garlic cloves, Grind up your black peppercorns a bit if you wish, and measure out all the ingredients for the sauce.
- Saute the garlic: After you’ve flipped the tofu and it has 10 minutes left, start the sauce. In a non-reactive nonstick deep pot with tall-ish walls (I’m using a 4.5 qt pot here--you just want to be able to stir everything in without it splashing outside the pot), saute your garlic. You may use oil if you wish but I just use a splash of water every time it starts to stick.
- Make the sauce: After the garlic has softened and become very fragrant, add pepper, soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, chili powder (if using), and coconut sugar (if using) and stir well until the spices have dissolved. Simmer the mixture over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Add baked tofu to sauce: Once the tofu is done, carefully remove it from the baking tray and add it to the liquid in the pot.
- Add the arrowroot powder / cornstarch slurry: In a separate bowl or cup, whisk (or use a fork) the arrowroot powder / cornstarch into the water until smooth, then pour in the pot. Mix well and stir for a minute or two while it thickens up.
- Simmer: Let the tofu simmer in the thick liquid for about 5 minutes (still on medium heat), stirring frequently and making sure the tofu is getting evenly coated.
- Optional side dish: If you wish to make the bok choy, chop off the ends and saute the leaves in a large skillet with sesame oil (or water/broth if oil-free) and add a pinch of salt while stirring. Add a lid and remove it and stir every minute for a couple minutes until the leaves have wilted and it’s cooked to your liking.
- Serve: Remove the bay leaves and serve the tofu mixture (with plenty of that delicious sauce) over rice. Add the cooked bok choy if you wish. Garnish with green onion and extra black pepper. And cilantro if you’re one of the people who can eat it--I am but Mr. Zardyplants is not.
- Store: Refrigerate leftover adobo tofu in an airtight container for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
- Note 1: The best kind of tofu for this dish is the super firm tofu that comes in a shrink wrapped package. I get mine from Trader Joe’s but I’ve seen it at other stores too. If you can’t find that, take regular firm tofu and press it. I love my EZ Tofu Press but before I had that I sandwiched the tofu between two plates or cutting boards and a few heavy books on top for about 20-30 minutes. You could also substitute soy curls, seitan chicken, or any vegan chicken replacement you can buy at the store.
- Note 2: Using fresh black pepper as opposed to ground pepper is SO IMPORTANT here. Pre-ground black pepper has been sitting around for who knows long. Ground spices really lose their flavor quite quickly. So use fresh. I chose to mash mine a bit in a mortar and pestle but you can leave them whole if you prefer. The sauce doesn’t get cooked long enough to truly soften them (unlike in chicken adobo), so you may want to grind them up a little. It will still taste super good since you’re grinding them right before using.
- Note 3: Traditionally cane vinegar is used in this recipe but I couldn’t find any. I tested it with both rice vinegar and with distilled white vinegar and they were both so good! I thought the distilled white vinegar was a little bit tangier, if that makes a difference to you one way or the other. If you use rice vinegar, buy the kind that is unseasoned.
- Note 4: I used reduced sodium soy sauce here but regular sodium should work fine. If you’re worried about it being too salty, use half the amount of regular soy sauce and dilute it with a little water.
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Category: Entree
- Method: Stove top
- Cuisine: Philippines
Keywords: Vegan, Oil-Free, Gluten-Free, Refined Sugar-Free, Tofu adobe, vegan tofu adobe