The browned, smoky tofu in this recipe is reminiscent of bacon (if memory serves). This is actually a simple dish that comes together fast once the tofu has marinated. Bok choy is one of my favorite vegetables, either raw or cooked. The stems are a refreshing alternative to celery for dipping, with a juicy, mild cabbage taste and no strings. If you find black specks or streaks on your bok choy or napa, don’t be alarmed. This is not fungus or dirt, but rather “pepper spot,” which is a physiologic disorder most likely resulting from genetic and environmental factors. It is strictly a cosmetic problem and is safe to eat.

You can serve this dish with rice, if you choose, but I prefer farro for its nutty flavor and texture. Because of polluted soil, most rice grown in this country is high in inorganic arsenic, which is a known bladder carcinogen. Brown rice is the worst culprit, believe it or not, and here all along we thought it was the healthier option. An Internet search of “arsenic in rice” is revealing. This is a word of warning to those who are avoiding gluten and are consuming large quantities of rice.

Ingredients:

1 pound extra-firm tofu, such as Heiwa

2 Tbsp. reduced soy sauce or liquid aminos, such as Bragg

2 Tbsp. maple syrup

1 Tbsp. liquid smoke

2 Tbsp. canola oil, divided

4 large cloves garlic, diced small

1 large head bok choy

Sesame seeds for garnish

Sambal oelek, chili garlic sauce or other hot sauce (optional)

Toasted sesame oil for drizzling

Directions:

1. Slice the tofu into eight or nine pieces. Lay them out side to side on the short edge of a dishtowel. Fold the towel up over the slices and press them firmly to squeeze out water. Keep flipping and folding the slices over until you reach the bottom of the towel. I know, there should have been a video to go with this. If this is confusing, just press the tofu any way you’re accustomed to until it’s as dry as possible. The drier it is, the more marinade it will absorb.

2. In a gallon-size zip-lock bag, combine soy sauce, maple syrup and liquid smoke. Place the tofu slices in the bag in a single layer and marinate for at least an hour (even overnight). Flip the bag over now and then so that both sides of the tofu soak up the marinade.

3. Wash and thoroughly dry the bok choy. Slice the stems into 1-inch pieces and chop the greens coarsely.

4. Cut the tofu slices from corner to corner to form triangles (if you’re so inclined). In a sauté pan, fry the tofu triangles in a tablespoon of oil until very brown. Transfer them to a plate and keep them warm.

5. In the same sauté pan (no need to clean it first), sauté the garlic in a tablespoon of. oil for two or three minutes until fragrant and lightly browned.

6. Add the bok choy stems and cook for three minutes. Then add the tops and cook for another three minutes.

7. Serve the tofu slices on top of the bok choy. Splash on a little extra soy sauce, a drizzle of sesame oil, a sprinkle of sesame seeds, and a dollop of sambal oelek if you’re feeling brave.