10-minute Spicy Tofu Veggie Stir Fry with Vermicelli

Life is constantly a struggle against the clock. And as the day goes along, energy definitely gets to an all-time low by about 5 pm, which is when I have to decide whether I’m going to eat the never-changing, always-boring, super-greasy, not-so-healthy canteen food, or if I’m going to make myself something inspired, healthy, and inspiring. About 90% of the time – you guessed it – I go to the canteen and eat whatever slop is on my plate. About 100% of the time, I wish I didn’t. The problem is less about the time it takes to cook and mostly about the energy it takes, and the dishes I’ll have to wash instead of doing whatever I’m actually supposed to be doing.

The other day I decided to look through my refrigerator and my pantry and see what I could throw together in a minimal number of dishes and next to no time. I found tofu, vermicelli, peanut butter, chili flakes, carrots and bok choy. Yeah, I know. It sounds absurd. But I threw them all together and ended up with a lovely – healthy – stir fry.

N’s Notes
Make sure you wash and drain your tofu before you start cooking with it.

Ingredients

12 oz. firm tofu
vermicelli (more if you like your noodles in oodles, less if you like it more veggie-heavy)
4 small sized carrots
2 bunches baby bok choy
2 tablespoons peanut butter
2 teaspoons chili flakes
a splash of olive or sesame oil
salt to taste

Equipment
stovetop
a trusty skillet with slightly higher rims

Method

1. Cut your tofu into small strips, about 1/2 inch thick, 1 inch wide, 2 inches long.
2. Heat a splash of your cooking oil of choice in the skillet.
3. After the oil is heated enough, toss in the tofu strips. Let them brown a little. Make sure you turn them and flip them so they brown evenly.
4. Use a vegetable peeler on your carrots and make ribbons.
5. Chop the bok choy into edible pieces.
6. Fry the vermicelli in the oil when the tofu is just about done. Leave the tofu in while you fry the vermicelli. This will take about 30 seconds. Don’t burn the noodles!
7. Toss the vegetables, with about 2 spoons of water, in with the noodles and tofu.
8. Cover and let it cook for about 3-4 minutes.
9. While your skillet is cooking, whisk together the peanut butter and chili flakes with a tablespoon of water.
10. Add salt to taste.
11. Pour your sauce into the skillet and toss until everything is coated. Let it cook for 1-2 more minutes.
12. Voila! A 10-minute masterpiece!

What I particularly enjoyed about this dish was that I only had one dish to wash afterward. And if you want to save even more dish time, you can just eat straight out of the pan – great for college students and others who are strapped for time.

This dish is also packed with protein from the tofu and the peanut butter, and plenty of vitamins like your B-complex and carotenes, from the veggies.

Variations:
If I had access to basil, I would tear about 10 leaves into 2 or 3 pieces and toss them in with the veggies to accentuate the taste. I’d love to hear any other variations you guys have in mind. Comments welcome!

edit: Joelen from Joelen’s Culinary Adventures has posted her own adaptation to this recipe. Try it out!