Tofu, Watercress, and Zucchini Stir-fry Recipe by Diana Kuan
I grew up in a household where watercress was cooked often, always in the form of a stir-fry. My mom would stir-fry pork, chicken, tofu, shrimp, and even clams with these greens, which were easy to find in the Chinese markets in Boston, where I grew up. Watercress cooked as quickly as spinach, but was sturdy enough to withstand being moved around with a wok spatula.
When I cook for myself now, a stir-fry is the easiest go-to dish for using watercress. It doesn’t need be cooked before being added to the rest of the ingredients, and takes only 1 to 2 minutes over heat to be ready, unlike other leafy greens like kale, Swiss chard, or collards.
Because we’re getting into summer now, this Tofu, Watercress, and Zucchini stir-fry is great for a quick vegetarian main dish that requires very little time at the stove. The sauce is light and just garlicky enough to not overwhelm the subtle flavors of the watercress and zucchini. Just remember to pat the tofu extra-dry before stir-frying it.
Serves 4 as part of a multi-course meal
- 1 pound extra-firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 tablespoon minced or grated ginger
- 8 ounces zucchini, cut into bite-sized pieces
- 8 ounces watercress, hard ends trimmed
- Rinse the tofu and pat dry with a clean kitchen towel. Cut the tofu into 1-inch cubes and dry again if it still feels wet on the surface (drying will allow the tofu to sear better and prevent oil from splattering up when you stir-fry).
- In a small bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, rice wine, honey, and sesame oil. Set aside.
- Heat the peanut or vegetable oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger and sauté for 20 to 30 seconds, until aromatic. Turn the heat to medium-high and add the zucchini. Stir-fry for 3 to 4 minutes, until softened. Add the tofu and stir-fry for 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce mixture. Add the watercress and cook for another 1 to 2 minutes, until wilted. Transfer to a platter or serving bowl and serve hot.