Photos by Emily Caruso
Pineapple and tofu are two of my favorite ingredients for a stir-fry, but this particular recipe has a sleeper ingredient you might not think of using: kumquats!
The kumquats are optional in this recipe since their season is so short, but if you can find them, I implore you to use them. After many years of admiring kumquats at the grocery store, I finally decided to buy some. But then I didn't know what to do with them! I thought they'd be nice candied or turned into some kind of jam, but I'm not in a season of life where candying and jamming are possibilities. Feeling desperate, I sliced them up and added them to a stir-fry. Because I had to use them somehow!
Well, guess what? Stir-frying kumquats works. The citrus flavor adds a little bit of complexity to the sauce, and the kumquats themselves get perfectly caramelized from the high heat of the stir-fry, which tames some of the tartness. The peel is edible and it softens further after being cooked. After making this discovery, I started adding kumquats and mandarinquats to our weekly stir-fry dinners; this particular recipe, loosely adapted from a Stir-Fried Pork and Pineapple recipe from The New York Times, is my favorite.
For the sauce:
- ¼ cup rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons white sugar (organic for vegan-friendly)
- 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
For the stir-fry:
- 1 15-ounce package extra-firm tofu, pressed for 30 minutes and drained
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil divided
- Salt to taste
- 3 green onions sliced, white parts separated from green parts
- 2 tablespoons grated fresh ginger
- 1 cup diced fresh pineapple
- 1 jalapeño pepper sliced (remove seeds and ribs for a milder stir-fry)
- 5 kumquats or mandarinquats sliced and seeded (optional)
- 3-4 cups rice quinoa or other cooked grain for serving
- Chopped roasted cashews cilantro, and/or black sesame seeds for garnish (optional)
Make the sauce:
- Whisk together the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
Start the stir-fry:
- Cut the tofu into 8 slices. Cut each slice into 2 rectangles, then cut each rectangle into 2 triangles, for a total of 32. Line a large plate with a paper towel.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add the tofu and cook on both sides until lightly browned and crisp, about 5 minutes per side. Remove the tofu from the skillet and transfer it to the paper towel-lined plate to soak up any excess oil. Sprinkle with salt.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat and add the remaining tablespoon of oil. Have all of the stir-fry ingredients at your side, ready to go. Add the white parts of the onion and the ginger to the skillet and cook, stirring constantly, 1-2 minutes, or until the onion starts to soften. Quickly whisk the sauce again and pour it into the skillet, along with the pineapple, pepper, and kumquats (if using). Cook for about 2 minutes more, or until the sauce has thickened slightly. Stir in the tofu and remove from heat.
- Divide the stir-fry onto 4 plates or bowls with your grain of choice. Garnish with the reserved green onions and roasted cashews, cilantro, and/or sesame seeds.
I've never thought of stir-frying kumquats, but that is genius!