Mexican Tofu Scramble
Mexican tofu scramble is one of the easiest ways to prepare tofu. You can make this pan of spiced tomato-y goodness in 30 minutes with basic ingredients.
Tofu is a cheap vegan protein source, but how do you make it taste good? When I first started cooking for myself at MIT, I tried pressing the tofu before cooking. This takes forever, and it's much easier to bake off the moisture if you want drier tofu.
If you don't have an oven, or if you don't want to overheat your kitchen, you can make tofu scramble and cook off the moisture in a pan. When you break up the tofu into little pieces, there's plenty of surface area to absorb all of the flavors - sweet onion and bell pepper, spicy salsa, and earthy cumin.
In 30 minutes, you can whip up this veggie and protein-packed meal. If you can't get over the idea of scrambling tofu, you can try the combination, onion + bell pepper + cumin + tomato + protein, with eggs and make shakshuka.
- 2 tablespoons of olive oil
- 1 teaspoon of cumin
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1 package (14 ounces) of firm tofu, drained and diced
- ¼ cup of salsa
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- Heat up the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Add the cumin. Stirring frequently, cook for 30-40 seconds until fragrant.
- Add in the onion and bell pepper, and cook for 5-7 minutes until golden brown.
- Add in the tofu and salsa. Break up the tofu into little pieces, and cook for 12-15 minutes until the liquid has evaporated.
- Season to taste, and serve immediately.
If you want a simpler version, you can make scrambled tofu. I don't recommend omitting tomatoes because they break down into a rich sauce.
- Olive oil: Used for cooking the Mexican tofu scramble. Helps mellow out the onion and toast the spices. Any sort of oil (canola, vegetable, olive) is okay.
- Cumin: Adds flavor. Using any sort of taco or chili seasoning would work well. Can omit if you don't have any or if your salsa is very flavorful.
- Onion: Required for Mexican tofu scramble. Adds sweetness and depth. Any color onion (red, white, yellow) is okay. Milder onions, such as spring onions or shallots, would also work and would decrease the cook time.
- Bell pepper: Required for Mexican tofu scramble. Substituting mild poblano peppers would work. Substituting spicy peppers (jalapenos, Anaheim) would work, but you should be very careful. To avoid making the dish too hot, you should deseed the peppers and only use a few (3-4).
- Tofu: Required for Mexican tofu scramble. I used firm tofu. If you use soft/silken tofu, you may need a longer cook time to evaporate off the excess liquid.
- Salsa: Adds spicy tomato flavor. Substituting 1 diced tomato plus something spicy (cayenne, red pepper flakes, hot sauce) would work. Substituting diced tomatoes works, but increases the cook time.
- Salt: Seasons the Mexican tofu scramble. I used kosher salt.
Step by Step Photos
Start by dicing the onion and the bell pepper. I used 1/2 a yellow onion because the onion was very large, and I wrapped the other half in plastic wrap for later.
Heat up the olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add the cumin. Stirring frequently, cook for 30-40 seconds until fragrant. Toasting spices in oil is a simple way to add more flavor to your dishes.
Add in the onion and bell pepper, and cook for 5-7 minutes until golden brown. These veggies release a lot of moisture, so you only have to stir occasionally. This means you can multitask and prepare the tofu and salsa as this cooks.
When you open a pack of tofu, you will see a ton of water. Pour out the water to drain the tofu. Dice the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Tofu blocks are rectangular prisms, so they're super easy to cut evenly. I ended up with 50 pieces of tofu.
Later, you'll be smashing the tofu into small pieces, so it really doesn't matter how even the cubes are. You can probably get away with not cutting the tofu at all if you aggressively smash the tofu as it cooks.
As the veggies cook, you should also measure out 1/4 cup (4 spoonfuls) of salsa. I've started keeping jars of salsa on hand, so I can jazz up scrambled eggs and leftover rice without having to chop or measure anything.
Add in the tofu and salsa. Break up the tofu into little pieces, and cook for 12-15 minutes until the liquid has evaporated. Softer tofu contains more liquid, so it'll take longer to cook.
Since you smash the tofu up into little pieces, it doesn't matter how evenly shaped the pieces were to start off. Again, you could probably skip cutting the tofu altogether.
Season to taste. I used 1/2 teaspoon of kosher sea salt. You should reduce the quantity if you're using table salt or if you have really salty salsa.
Once all of the liquid has evaporated, Mexican tofu scramble reminds me a lot of stir fried tomato and egg (fan qie chao ji dan). To increase the resemblance and the confusion, you can add a tiny pinch of turmeric for yellow color.
Serve immediately. Tofu takes on the flavor of whatever it's cooked with, so Mexican tofu scramble tastes like warm, tomatoey, spiced goodness.
I garnished the Mexican tofu scramble with crushed tortilla chips and parsley, but this was mostly for the photos, and I'd be perfectly content eating this dish plain.
For a complete vegan meal, serve Mexican tofu scramble with homemade flour tortillas and black beans. Breakfast tacos, anyone?
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