Get my newest recipe via email:

Lacquered Tofu with Spinach, Arugula and Black Rice

Lacquered tofu with spinach, arugula and black rice is a magical surprise of a meal. The tofu, already golden sautéed, transforms into caramel sweet with a soy sauce and maple syrup varnish. Top exotic nutty black rice with these lacquered tofu gems along with sweet and sour sautéed greens. A glorious plant-based treat!Lacquered Tofu with Spinach, Arugula and Black Rice

I added garlic scapes and pea shoots to the mix of greens because they are in our Ranui Gardens CSA box this week. If you don’t have scapes or shoots, substitute a garlic clove and arugula, spinach or other nutritious green.

tofu cubes cooking for Lacquered tofu

Legend says that the Emperors of China excluded all others from eating black rice. No peasants could indulge. More than once I’ve heard this very healthy rice referred to as forbidden rice. Lotus Foods, seller of high quality rice, has trademarked the word Forbidden so we are forbidden to call it Forbidden, unless of course we are using Lotus Forbidden Rice. Black rice allowed.

Lacquered Tofu

This is a three burner stove-top meal—you will want a saucepan for the rice, a non-stick skillet for the tofu, and a third skillet for the greens. I am lucky my husband does the dishes. He teases me that I am spoiled by my 30 years in a professional kitchen, with dish stewards ready to wash all the pots and pans, utensils and mixing bowls I can get dirty. This recipe might make a 3-pot mess–but it comes together in about an hour. Start the rice first, and while it is steaming, press the moisture from the tofu and prepare all the other ingredients.

Lacquered Tofu with Spinach, Arugula and Black Rice

Lacquered Tofu with Spinach, Arugula and Black Rice recipe adapted from Caramelized Golden Tofu recipe in Deborah Madison’s cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Make it a fabulous weekend–get in the kitchen and cook something delicious!

Thanks for reading. Get the latest recipe posts by email—subscribe here.

Are you following me on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest?

This post contains affiliate links. When you purchase products via my links, it doesn’t cost you anything and I earn a tiny commission, which helps me continue to provide free content here on Letty’s Kitchen. Thank you!!

PS If you’ve made one of my recipes and love it, please consider leaving a blog post comment. Your comments help other readers learn more about the recipe.

0 from 0 votes
Lacquered Tofu with Spinach, Arugula and Black Rice
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
30 mins
Total Time
50 mins
These addictive caramelized tofu gems over sweet and sour sautéed greens go so well with nutty black rice--you are in for a magical surprise!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian
Servings: 4 servings.
Author: Letty Flatt
  • ¾ cup black rice
  • 1 ½ cups water
  • 1 large pinch sea salt
  • 14 ounces (or thereabouts) extra firm tofu, drained
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon peanut oil or other high-heat tolerant oil
  • 1 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine (mirin)
  • 2 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh ginger
  • 1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons tamari soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon Real Salt
  • 1/3 cup chopped garlic scapes , or 1 garlic clove
  • 8 ounces fresh spinach leaves
  • 3 to 4 ounces arugula
  • 1 or 2 cups pea shoots , coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  1. Rinse the rice. Bring it to a boil in the saucepan with the water and salt. Lower the heat to a weak simmer, cover, and cook until the liquid is absorbed, about 45 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cut the tofu crosswise into six (1/2-inch) rectangles. Press out excess water: place the tofu triangles in a large shallow dish on top of a clean tea towel (without terrycloth nubs.) Fold the towel over the tofu. Place a second dish on top, one that fits inside the first, and put something heavy in the dish–I use my blender. After 5 or 10 minutes the tea towels will have absorbed excess water, and the tofu pieces will be easy to pick up. Cut the rectangles into cubes, more or less ½ to ¾-inch square.
  3. Heat the peanut oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Toss in the tofu cubes, making sure each cube is touching the oil/pan. Let the tofu cook, resisting the urge to move it, 5 to 8 minutes until golden on that side. Turn and cook another side. Remove to paper towels and set aside. Don’t wash the skillet, unless it wasn’t truly non-stick; you will use it for the tofu lacquering.
  4. While the tofu and rice cook, in a small bowl mix the rice wine vinegar, rice wine, agave syrup, ginger, a tablespoon of the tamari, sesame oil, red pepper and salt.
  5. Meanwhile, heat a tablespoon of the peanut oil in a second skillet over medium-high flame. Add the garlic scapes and cook and stir about 5 minutes. Add the chopped spinach and arugula. You may need to add these greens in stages, stirring and allowing time for them to wilt. Pour the rice vinegar mixture over the greens and cook and stir to coat well.
  6. Check the rice. If there is no liquid remaining and the rice is completely cooked, stir the rice into the greens mixture. Toss in the pea shoots and heat through.
  7. In the tofu skillet, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of tamari and the 3 tablespoons of maple syrup. When the syrup is bubbling, toss in the cooked tofu cubes. Cook and stir until the cubes are glazed.
  8. To serve, transfer the rice and greens to a serving bowl. Pour the lacquered tofu on top.
Recipe Notes

Adapted from Caramelized Golden Tofu recipe in Deborah Madison's cookbook Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

1 comment

  • […] My experience is that high quality is what Nordic Ware sells. As a pastry chef, I spec’d their popover pans for baking chocolate bouchons. At home our treasured 12-inch non-stick skillet happens to be—yep–Nordic Ware. (We love our well-seasoned cast iron skillets, but sometimes non-stick is the only tool for jobs like sautéed tofu.) […] Reply · 26 July, 2016

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.