Pan-Fried Tofu with Spinach, Pear, and Star Anise

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Pan-Fried Tofu with Spinach, Pear, and Star Anise

I was looking for something light to make earlier this week, to try and offset the amount of food I planned on eating for the holidays. I also needed to try a new Tyler Florence recipe for Tyler Florence Fridays, so when I found Pan-Fried Tofu with Spinach, Pear, and Star Anise in Tyler Florence’s Real Kitchen: An Indispensable Guide for Anybody Who Likes to Cook it sounded perfect.

Now, I must preface my comments, with the fact that I don’t care that much for tofu. If you wondering then why for heaven’s sakes did I make a dish with tofu as the star ingredient? Well, I want to like tofu. I really do. With all the flavors in this dish, I thought that if there was ever a dish that could make me like tofu, this would be it. Did it? No, not really, but the flavors of everything else in the dish were amazing. So, as I was eating it, I kept thinking of how I could make it without the dreaded tofu, and I think boneless, skinless chicken breasts would make a fine substitute.

Pan-Fried Tofu with Spinach, Pear, and Star Anise
Serves 2

1 block extra-firm tofu, 15 ounces, halved horizontally
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger, peeled
1 garlic clove, minced
1 fresh red chile, cut in paper-thin circles
3 whole star anise
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 pounds baby spinach
1 pear or Asian pear, sliced into thin wedges

Lay several layers of paper towels on a cutting board, then place the tofu squares on top, side by side. Cover the tofu with more paper towels and place a plate on top. Add a can or two to press down and drain out some of the water in the curd. This makes the tofu denser and meatier.

In a large skillet, heat the peanut and sesame oils just to the smoking point. Fry the tofu on both sides, flipping occasionally with the spatula, until golden, about 8 minutes total. Remove the tofu from the pan and drain it on a plate lined with paper towels.

Using the same pan, saute the ginger, garlic, chile, star anise, and peanuts-your kitchen will smell amazing!

In a small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice together; set aside.

Briefly toss the spinach in the pan, stirring just to wilt, no more than 30 seconds. Remove the spinach to a bowl, scraping the peanut mixture in there also.

Put the pan back on the heat and heat the hoisin mixture.

Combine the sauce with the spinach and divide between 2 bowls. Lay the pear slices and tofu on top.

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  1. says

    Good, I don’t like tofu either, but the dish is lovely and sounds incredible. So, let me know how it turns out with chicken.

    BTW, tried the warm argula salad with goat cheese and it was amazing.

  2. says

    Hi! I’m Karen and I just started reading your blog a few days ago. I just wanted to say that this recipe looks absolutely divine-tofu is so underrated!! Yum!

  3. says

    You and I think the same way! I do pick up tofu once in a while, thinking that I want to like it. I usually end up thinking that the dish would be great… if there was something besides the tofu in it…
    It does look beautiful, good for you for giving it a try – let me know when you try it with the chicken! :)

  4. says

    You want to like it, and instead thought about how good this would be with chicken. You did make me laugh! Pretty presentation; I’ll be happy to see it with chicken!

  5. says

    I am with you. I want to like tofu but I just can’t stand it. Good for you for trying. The flavors in the dish sound fantastic and I am sure it would be wonderful with chicken.

  6. Pam says

    Terri – I’ll let you know. I’m glad you like the goat cheese salad!

    Sam – it’s definitely worth a try,especially if you like tofu.

    Noble – I think the sauce would be good with just about anything.

    Red – fish is a great idea!

    Karen – it really is good, and if you like tofu, it’s probably even better!

  7. says

    Sounds, and looks wonderful … I really want to try this.

    Mostly, my Tofu experience has been little, but good. I only had one very icky one ..shivers..but other than that, can’t complain.

  8. says

    I eat tofu even though it isn’t my favorite. i just don’t eat it often. This sounds like a great recipe, and I wonder if the tofu would more more palatable if it were marinated first? The more I read that, the less it makes sense. Maybe substitute tempeh for tofu? I love anise and I’ll have to try this recipe.

  9. says

    Beautiful photo.

    Tofu is tricky. You did well by pressing it first, but the key is seasoning. Tofu will absorb and soak up any flavor it is introduced to. Next time, try experimenting with a marinade first, and then a rub too. This will highly flavor the tofu and make it more palatable.

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