I Grew Up In a TeePee + Fiery Garlic Tofu

Did you know that New Mexico was part of the United States before you watched Breaking Bad?  (It’s okay. I grew up there and sometimes even I got confused. It’s not really new, it’s not really Mexico….I get it)

I grew up in a teepee on a bunch of land in asscrack New Mexico. We had no running water, no electricity and no plumbing for the first part of my life.  I couldn’t make this shit up if I tried.  I was a teenager when we got our first TV and I shit you not, it was a black and white 5 inch.

We had an outhouse until I was ready to graduate high school (thanks parents) and I grew up without ever eating meat. To this day I haven’t tried it. It’s a lot like cocaine or LSD – I’ve gone this long without so I think I’m good.

My upbringing may not have been fancy but it was full of love, honesty, humbleness, grace and compassion.

In 2013 I wanted to share a piece of my upbringing with my girlfriend, so we quit our jobs and headed South from the Bay Area, straight to asscrack nowhere land. We were on a mission to write a follow-up to our first cookbook, Bold Vegan – Food of South East Asia.

My girlfriend, Luanne is from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (kind of like New York but in South East Asia) so naturally, she was excited to go to New Mexico to see the aliens.

We were in New Mexico for 7 months and although we didn’t see one alien, we did write a cookbook, watched countless jaw dropping sunsets and sunrises, soaked our bodies in natural hot springs, played in the snow and drank beer in the sun. We also ate lots of green chili (another one of New Mexico’s little secrets).

We had an awesome fucking time and I highly recommend quitting your job and doing something bat-shit crazy that makes no sense at all at some point in your life. The recipe below is from our second cookbook Food for the Body & Soul

Fiery Garlic Tofu


1 14 oz. box (397g) organic firm tofu tofu, cut into 1 inch squares
6 tablespoons organic cornstarch (45g)
1/4 cup grapeseed oil plus 3 tablespoons, divided (105ml)
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided (3g)
20 turns fresh black pepper
10 large garlic cloves, minced
3 – 5 dried red chilies, cut in half (add more if you like more spice)
1 heaping tablespoon peeled and minced ginger (12g)
1 tablespoon soy sauce (15ml)
6 tablespoons water (90ml)
1 red onion, sliced into rounds (140g)
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil (2.5ml)

Sugar Glaze

1 tablespoon (15g) brown sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon (15ml) water
1 green onion, cut into 2 inch strips for garnish

  • Evenly spread out cornstarch on a plate.
  • Cut tofu and dredge evenly in cornstarch. Set aside.
  • Heat 1/4 cup (60ml) of the grapeseed oil in a nonstick pan.
  • Place 1/2 of the tofu in oil. Add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 10 turns of black pepper.
  • Cook for 9-10 minutes, turning so that all sides get brown.
  • Take out of pan and place on a brown paper bag (placed on a plate) to soak up the oil.
  • Place 3 more tablespoons (45ml) of oil in the pan and add the remaining tofu.
  • Add another 1/4 teaspoon salt and 10 turns black pepper and cook for 9-10 minutes.
  • Take out and place on paper bag.
  • Use the same oil and pan and add the garlic, chili and ginger.
  • Cook for 1 minute and then add 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 6 tablespoons water.
  • Add red onions and sesame oil and cook for 3 minutes.
  • Add the tofu back to the pan, stir to combine and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the glaze and cook for an additional minute.
  • Garnish with green onions.


  • Do not serve the red chilies, they are added for flavor, not to eat directly.
  • If you don’t like spicy then leave the red chilies whole. If you’re a lover of all things spicy, go ahead and cut the chilies in half and stir fry all of the hot and spicy goodness into the dish.



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  1. Chris @ World Cup of Food says

    I take your warning to not eat the chilies instead as a challenge that I gladly accept!

    Seriously, though, the wife and I are gung-ho meat eaters, but stir fry works SO well vegan with tofu and maybe cashews that we usually forgo the meat for a night on those occasions. Great recipe and beautifully photographed as well!

  2. gypsy724 says

    Truly impressed! My household is made up of major meat-lovers. My husband and son both finished their bowls. This is a great gateway vegan recipe and a great base — I think this would be great with veggie add-ins! Thank you!

  3. says


    Having double-dated for my junior prom with Annelies and identical Mormon twins, I feel like I know you pretty well despite the age gap. I was just searching for a granola recipe here and followed some links. Love this post. Here’s to Asscrack, NM, and cheers to you!

  4. Nicky says

    The flavor was awesome. I will remix this dish. For starters I’ll incorporate this into a veggie
    stir- fry. I wish the tofu had not been so mushy, however it was still delicious!!!

    This one will be a keeper. The chilies give a nice kick and the lemony give get was awesome!

  5. Lottie says

    Made this last night and it was absolutely phenomenal. Loved every bite. May have to make it again tonight, in fact…thanks!

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