Braised Tofu in Caramel Sauce
PREP AND COOK TIME: About 25 minutes

NOTES: Caramelized sugar infuses the sauce with sweetness and gives it a deep mahogany shine. Serve this great vegetarian dish with hot cooked rice and stir-fried spinach with garlic.

MAKES: 4 servings

1 pound firm tofu

3 tablespoons sugar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1/4 cup minced shallots

1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger

1 clove garlic, peeled and minced

2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions (including tops)

1/8 teaspoon pepper

1. Cut tofu into 2- by 3-inch, 1/2-inch-thick slices and pat dry.

2. Place sugar in a 10- to 12-inch frying pan over medium-high heat; shake pan often until sugar is melted and amber colored, 2 to 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup hot water (mixture will bubble vigorously) and stir over medium heat until caramelized sugar is dissolved.

3. Stir in soy sauce, shallots, ginger, and garlic; stir often over high heat until boiling. Lay tofu pieces in a single layer in sauce. Simmer, uncovered, over medium-low heat for about 5 minutes. With a wide spatula, turn pieces over; simmer until hot and coated with sauce, 3 to 4 minutes longer.

4. Transfer tofu and sauce to a serving dish and sprinkle with green onions and pepper.

Per serving: 219 cal., 41% (89 cal.) from fat; 19 g protein; 9.9 g fat (1.4 g sat.); 18 g carbo (0.2 g fiber); 790 mg sodium; 0 mg chol.

Braised Tilapia in Caramel Sauce

Follow the recipe for Braised Tofu in Caramel Sauce, above, but substitute 1 pound boned, skinned tilapia or catfish fillets for the tofu and 3 tablespoons Asian fish sauce (nuoc mam or nam pla) for the soy sauce. In step 1, rinse fish and pat dry; cut fillets crosswise into 2- by 3-inch pieces. In step 3, lay fish in a single layer in sauce, overlapping edges if necessary to fit. Simmer for about 3 minutes, turn over carefully, and simmer until barely opaque but still moist-looking in center of thickest part (cut to test), 3 to 4 minutes longer. In step 4, transfer fish to serving dish with a slotted spatula. Bring sauce to a boil over high heat and stir often until slightly syrupy and reduced to about 2/3 cup, 2 to 4 minutes; pour over fish, then sprinkle with the green onions and pepper. Makes 4 servings.

Per serving: 187 cal., 19% (36 cal.) from fat; 23 g protein; 4 g fat (0.3 g sat.); 14 g carbo (0.2 g fiber); 508 mg sodium; chol. for tilapia not available.