Vegan Fried Rice w/Mushrooms & Tofu

I have been making fried rice with tofu for almost 20 years…started back when I was vegetarian, but was still eating copious amounts of eggs and dairy (wow, did the industry have me fooled!).  I used to add about four eggs to a batch this size…but now I don’t.  You could use Follow Your Heart’s The Vegan Egg…but I haven’t tried it.  I save that stuff for baking and french toast.  🙂

A lot of people will say they hate tofu, or that it tastes terrible, but let me tell you friends…it’s all about which type you use for which application, and how you prepare it.

For this recipe, you need:

1 package of tofu (12-16oz)
1 package frozen mixed veggies (16oz)
2 cups uncooked rice, cooked
1# whole crimini of other favorite mushroom, sliced as thin as you possibly can (watch your fingers!)

Most people who buy tofu know it comes packaged in three ways.  One is in aseptic containers that don’t need refrigeration ~ not my favorite because I think it tastes more “beany” but I can see the value in keeping it on the shelves at home:

The second is packaged in water and refrigerated ~ this is my favorite type to use if I’m going to crumble/scramble it, or blend it:

The third is packaged without water, but requires refrigeration ~ this is my favorite kind to use if I slice and cube it:

So the last kind is the best, in my opinion, for fried rice.  It slices and cubes easily, is very firm, doesn’t need complicated draining or pressing, and doesn’t fall apart easily in food.  There may be some liquid in the package, so I usually set it on a few paper towels after opening, while heating up the pan and getting other things ready and cooking the rice in the Instant Pot…and that seems to do the trick.  If you can’t find this kind, you can use the kind that comes in water, but you will certainly have to drain it more.  You can skip pressing it if you handle it gently while cooking it.  The water WILL cook out.  If you have time, pressing speeds up the process and further improves the texture.  Or you can use the box kind…but…I dunno.  I just don’t love it!

If you have plenty of time, slice or cube your tofu and marinate it for a few hours or overnight in tamari or soy sauce ~ not too much….just enough that the tofu soaks it in a little and changes color slightly, but don’t let the tofu swim in it or it will get too salty.  This isn’t crucial, though.  If you don’t have time to marinate it, just cube it, add oil and tamari (or soy sauce) to the pan (you CAN skip the oil if you desire) and saute it until it’s well-done and starts crisping up on the sides/edges.  I use a spatula to flip/stir so I don’t risk breaking the pieces or crumbling it.  Add as much tamari, coconut aminos, liquid aminos or low-sodium soy sauce as you need…it will evaporate and/or soak into the tofu.

Once the tofu is prepped, I set it aside and slice mushrooms really really thin.  Thinner than pre-sliced mushrooms typically come.  I give them a quick saute.  You don’t have to wash the pan b/w tofu and mushrooms.  You can also reverse the order to impart mushroom flavor into your tofu.  Your choice.

Heat up the mixed veggies…just to the point of being defrosted, since they will be sauteed in the rice.

(I make the rice in the Instant Pot.  I like basmati or brown basmati.  See, I’m so out of order.  I start this first so it’s ready once I’ve got everything else prepared.  You can make ahead and refrigerate till you need it, if you’d like!)

I fry the semi-cooled rice in some grapeseed oil and add the veggies, mushrooms and tofu and stir fry some more.  Again, if you don’t use oil, you can omit it but you’ll need a little extra liquid (and probably a non-stick pan).  A little coconut aminos and more tamari is good and any seasoning you like.  I like to throw in some miso paste!  Five-spice is nice if you have it…sometimes I just use Mrs. Dash.  Once the rice is brown from the tamari or soy sauce, and the salt level is right, I shut off the burner and put a lid on…and let it sit till it’s time to eat.


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