Tofu Braised in Plum Sauce with Brussels Sprouts

Tofu Braised in Plum Sauce with Brussels Sprouts is an alchemy of sweet, sour, savory and slightly salty and spicy flavors that will satisfy your craving for something healthy, yet delicious.  While Brussels sprouts really pop in this dish, you can certainly swap them out for your favorite vegetables.  Bok choy, red cabbage, napa cabbage, red bell pepper and red onion would all work well, along with carrot, broccoli, and perhaps some mung bean sprouts and pea pods.  

Tofu is an excellent plant protein to include in your vegetarian plant-based meals.

As a side note, leafy greens and green vegetables are super nutritious, and an especially beneficial addition to your Spring diet.

I use plum preserves as the base of a delicious, simple homemade plum sauce as it's lower in sodium and sugar than store bought plum sauce, however, if you happen to have some on hand, go ahead and use it and adjust accordingly.

What I especially love about this Tofu Braised in Plum Sauce is the easy preparation.  The tofu can be drained, then cubed or sliced into slabs without needing to be pressed first.

Tofu Braised in Plum Sauce with Brussels Sprouts & Quinoa

Homemade Plum Sauce Inspiration

 I had the inspiration to make a homemade plum sauce a while back, using plum preserves, as many store bought plum sauces tend to be higher in sodium and other ingredients that I prefer to avoid.  I just never made it.

Recently, I purchased some incredible Brussels sprouts that are really large, and super sweet.

While perusing through the 2007 edition of Cooking The Whole Foods Way by Christina Pirello, for Brussels sprouts recipe inspiration, I found two options.  One baked with shallots, and the other was for Brussels Sprouts with Ginger-Plum Sauce.  I used the latter, and finally dug out that jar of plum preserves.

This Tofu Braised in Plum Sauce with Brussels Sprouts is my variation of her recipe ~ adding tofu, of course!

Tofu Braised in Plum Sauce with Brussels Sprouts Recipe

Tofu Braised in Plum Sauce with Brussels Sprouts Simmering in the pan

There's some wiggle room with this Tofu Braised in Plum Sauce recipe with respect to both the sauce, and the vegetables.  I used a couple ingredients that you may not have on hand, but can be omitted and/or replaced.

Be sure to read the notes after the recipe for possible ingredient substitutions.

Braised Tofu Ingredients

  • 2 tsp. light sesame oil ~ optional, see notes
  • 1/2-1 red or sweet onion, sliced in half moons
  • 4-6 mushrooms, sliced (white button, baby bellas or shiitakes) 
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 package extra firm or firm tofu
  • ~ 1/2 tsp. Chinese 5-Spice ~ 1/4 tsp. coriander~ 1/4 tsp. Frontier Lemon peel, or a lemon pepper, optional
  • 2 carrots, sliced diagonally on the bias
  • 1-2 celery, sliced thin
  • 6+ Brussels sprouts, sliced in 1/4 inch wedges if larger, or cut into halves or quarters (use more if smaller)
  • ~1 cup +/- thin sliced red cabbage
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced, optional
  • 2-3 tsp. reduced-sodium natural soy sauce (I use San-J Tamari Lite which has the lowest sodium content per serving) & 1+ Tbsp. water as needed to prevent sticking

Plum Sauce Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp. plum preserves
  • 2 tsp. vinegar ~ I used 1 tsp. each brown rice vinegar & a sweeter raspberry balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp. San-J Umami Tamari Splash with red miso (available at Whole Foods), or use more tamari and/or 1 tsp. miso paste (see notes, below)
  • 3-4 inch piece of ginger, grated & squeezed for juice
  • 1/2 tsp. dry yellow mustard
  • 1/4 tsp. white pepper
  • 1 tsp. toasted sesame oil, optional
  • 2 kudzu root, arrowroot or other thickener dissolved in 1 Tbsp. cool water
  • Sriracha hot sauce, optional

Tofu Braised in Plum Sauce with Brussels Sprouts Recipe Steps

  • Heat a wok, large pan, or heavy bottom pot like Le Creuset 
  • Once heated, add oil, then onion.  Stir, and let cook for a couple minutes.
  • Add mushrooms, then a pinch of salt to help draw moisture out.  Let cook another couple minutes, then push towards the center of the wok, pan, or pot to make room for the tofu. (The center of the burner typically has less direct heat than the outer area over the flame.)
  • Add tofu, then season with coriander, Chinese 5-Spice, and lemon peel, if using, or lemon pepper.  Stir, and let cook 4-5 minutes, until tofu begins to brown.  Gently toss the tofu, then add remaining vegetables and garlic.
  • Once the tofu begins to stick, add the tamari and water, one tablespoon at a time to prevent sticking.  Turn heat to medium, and let simmer while preparing plum sauce.
  • Whisk together plum sauce ingredients in a small bowl, being sure to dissolve kudzu root or arrow root in water a separate small bowl before adding to the plum sauce.  Do a quick taste test, and adjust sauce as needed, adding a bit more water if too thick, a little more vinegar if needed, or a little Sriracha if it needs a little kick.
  • Pour plum sauce over tofu mixture.  Gently stir through, then cover, and simmer on medium-low to low until vegetables are all tender and cooked through, about another 5-7 minutes.
  • Serve with perfectly cooked quinoa, short or medium grain brown rice, or baked Asian, white, garnet or jewel sweet potatoes.

Recipe Notes & Variations

  • Substitute whatever vegetables you prefer or have on hand.  The mushrooms are great in this, but if you don't have any or don't like them, no sweat, just skip them.  As I mentioned above, other great vegetable options include:  bok choy or baby bok choy, thin sliced napa cabbage, red bell pepper, broccoli, pea pods, etc.
  • I used a blend of brown rice vinegar and a slightly sweet yet tart raspberry vinegar which was a great match for the plum sauce, however, you can use white or brown rice vinegar, and/or any balsamic vinegar or white wine vinegar that you have on hand.
  • Add enough water to thin the preserves into a slightly thick sauce.  It will thicken as it cooks once the kudzu root or other thickener is added.
  • I prefer using San-J Reduced Sodium Tamari.  I like the flavor without it being too salty.  Use more or less to suit your tastes.  I highly recommend only using a naturally fermented tamari, shoyu or soy sauce.  Avoid those with caramel color added.
  • Red or barley miso paste can also be used in lieu of the San-J Umami Tamari Splash and some of the tamari.  Mash 1+ teaspoon into the plum sauce, making sure to lower the heat once adding to the Braised Tofu.
  • I happen to have a small bottle of minced lemon peel made by Frontier.  I like adding it to several dishes as it adds a little brightness, however, it is totally not necessary and can be omitted. Alternatively, add a squeeze of lemon, or a little lemon zest to the plum sauce.
  • If it needs a bit more sweetness, add a little maple syrup or other liquid sweetener, like brown rice syrup, or agave.
  • Substitutions you can try for the Chinese 5-Spice:  a little ground anise, fennel, cinnamon, allspice, sweet yellow curry or turmeric, dried ginger, and/or garlic or onion powder.  (Chinese 5-Spice is an aromatic and distinctive tasting blend that typically consists of star anise, fennel, cinnamon, clove, and pepper.)
Tofu Braised in Plum Sauce with Brussels Sprouts & Quinoa