Sweet & Sour and Delicious

December 8, 2010

It’s finals time. You know what that means. The next few weeks usually involve many late night cram sessions, 23 quiet-hours, and lots and lots of stress. The truly devout college kids lock themselves away in the study rooms of the library tower, a cup of coffee in one hand and a ridiculously thick textbook and highlighter in the other. But what happens at 1:30 AM when you’ve finished studying? You’re hungry and there are no options on campus. But don’t you dare pick up that phone and order crappy takeout.

MSG, anyone?

I’m proud to say that I’ve survived my undergraduate career (so far) without having to pull a single all-nighter and I haven’t succumbed to a Chinese takeaway dinner. I’ve found that planning ahead really helps, whether it’s getting by from week to week during the regular semester with two classes, jobs, clubs, etc or whether it’s during crunch time at the end of a semester.

One thing I like to buy that’s super cheap? Brown rice!

I bought this bag for $1.39 and there’s quite a few servings in there. What more could a cheapass broke college student want? Brown rice is one of those things I’ll make a big batch of on Sunday night and eat with steamed veggies and such during the week.

Obviously it’s not quite instant rice (brown rice takes 45 minutes to cook), but this recipe here really is all about planning ahead. In addition to letting the rice simmer for a good hunk of time, you’re also going to need to press some tofu. More on that in a minute.

Better than Takeout: Sweet and Sour Tofu

Serves 3-4 hungry, studious people

This ultra simple recipe is something you can make any night of the week. It keeps in the fridge wonderfully, and the leftovers only get better because the flavors have time to hang out. Trust me on this one, you’ll want to buy quality sweet and sour sauce. It costs a little bit extra, but it tastes amazing.

What you’ll need:

1 block of extra firm tofu, pressed

1 cup of brown rice, uncooked

1 onion, diced

1 cup sliced peppers

1-2 cups broccoli

a jar of good sweet and sour sauce

~1/3 cup of flour (optional)

The first step to this recipe is to make sure you’re done studying for the day. Why? Because you need to press your tofu.

What’s under there, hmm?

In hindsight, I probably shouldn’t have put this on my printer.

That’s how I press my tofu because I’m too cheap to buy an actually Tofu Xpress or whatever they’re calling it these days. Who knew there was an actual use for textbooks?! 😉 Just kidding! I read them!

Let your tofu chill underneath your pile’o textbooks for as little as 15 minutes. I let mine sit for a few hours, only because I’d never pressed tofu before and wondered how firm that sucker really could be. Oh boy. Let me show you…

That hunk that’s missing was a “test slice” to make sure it was firm enough. 😉

How did I wait this long to press tofu? The texture was delicious. It made me fall in love with tofu all over again. I’ll eat the stuff straight up, and in its pressed form, it’s even better.

Once you emerge from your pressed-tofu-loving coma, let it marinade in about 3 tablespoons of your sweet and sour sauce for as long as you have time.

Heat up a pan and oil. If you have it, use sesame oil. If not, olive is fine.

Saute up your veggies and then add in your tofu and as much or as little sauce as you’d like.


Here’s where that flour comes in to play. I didn’t cook my tofu before my veggies because I didn’t want it extra crispy. You can if you want to – instead, I scattered in handfuls of flour until the sauce got thick and the raw flour taste had cooked out. I know it sounds odd, but it really worked.

Now you’re ready to devour!

And maybe study some more?

When you were in college, did you make late night runs to a local restaurant or fast food joint a lot?

11 Responses to “Sweet & Sour and Delicious”

  1. Jess Says:

    I haven’t pulled an all nighter yet either! Go us!

  2. Suzanne Says:

    When I was in undergrad, finals were always my most unhealthy time. I would be up so late every night and would eat like crap (chinese and taco bell were my standards), mainly because I was so tired. I’m doing much better this time around in law school. Now I’m only studying at home instead of the library so I have healthy snacks around in case I get a craving, and I’m using the gym as a welcome study break (instead of foregoing it for those couple weeks because I thought I was too busy). Good luck on finals, girl!

  3. I have to give you credit, I did not plan ahead and make meals for myself in college. I also didnt get take out, but usually stuck to cans of soup and something microwavable… not that those are much better.

  4. Faith Says:

    Oh man do I ever remember finals week…lots of all nighters, late nights, Hungry Howie’s and Taco Bell :/ Your version looks about a billion times better – and healthier, too! If only I knew some of the things I know now, if only 9 or 10 months later!

  5. When I was in college, there were definitely a LOT of late night dinners at unhealthy places. But that was my unhealthy phase. I am happy to say that now I eat a lot less takeout.

  6. Robin Says:

    I laughed out loud like 3 times reading this!! You are hilarious. Perhaps I will try this recipe out over break in attempt to surmount my fear of tofu.

    Happy to say that I haven’t ever pulled an all-nighter, either! Buuuut if I want to keep that up, I should probably get back to orgo now… hrmph.

    Thanks for such a great post 🙂 Good luck on your finals!!

  7. Monique Says:

    Wow that’s impressive 🙂 I didn’t really pull all-nighters, ever in college. I also never ordered takeout, because I went to a party school haha. Everything was open 24/7…. lots of pizza, burgers and fries. I wish I ate like this in college! 🙂

  8. Evan Thomas Says:

    This looks so good! I love making my own Chinese food. It feels so exotic, and really sticks to you better than the stuff you buy.

  9. I just recently pressed tofu for the first time, too! I love it, and I am never going back. Haha. It’s amazing.

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