“Stir fry? I love stir fry!” The shouts rang out as youth hanging out at the Chill Zone this past Saturday gathered in the snack room to cook up some stir fry. However, much of the excitement quickly turned to confusion as students realized there was no chicken to be found.
“Wait… stir fry without chicken? What?!” They asked in shock. So began an introduction to the wonders of tofu.
Tofu is made of soy beans, and is often used by vegetarians (and non-vegetarians!) as a replacement for meat in a variety of dishes. It has a spongy texture– we had lots of fun squishing it with our fingers– which is great for soaking up lots of flavor. If you choose to eat less meat in your diet, protein-rich foods like tofu are essential to keeping your body healthy and happy. But the wonders of tofu and soy beans don’t stop at replacing meat: soy products can also be used to replace milk, cream cheese, yogurt, and even ice cream!
Some Chill Zone participants were pretty skeptical that the tofu would make a tasty meat replacement. But despite their raised eyebrows, everyone helped prepare the meal by chopping up lots of different vegetables. A great veggie stir fry can be made with just about any vegetable combination, but there are a few basic ingredients, such as onion and garlic, that you should keep in mind when getting started. After frying up some of these alliums in our electric wok (and a little ginger, for good measure), we added the tofu and waited as it became golden brown. We then added carrots, broccoli, and red pepper, and also made a separate batch with mushrooms. As we waited for the veggies to cook we mixed up a scrumptious sauce of honey, rice vinegar, and soy sauce to pour on top of our stir fry. The final product: delicious! I think we may have even had some tofu-converts.
After chowing down on our stir fry, we had an herb and spice smell test. Following up on last week’s discussion of parts of a plant and flavorings, the kids were excited to test their knowledge and get a little more familiar with the dried herbs and spices I brought in from home. By the end of our session, the guys were spice experts, easily telling basil from oregano and nutmeg from cumin with only the slightest sniff.