By in Food

Once Upon a Time I Was a Vegetarian

There was once upon a time when I was primarily a vegetarian. In those three years, I even tried to be a vegan. I was in my early twenties and it was not yet very popular in mainstream cooking.

Tofu was not well-liked among the majority of the "American" people I knew, but living in Hawaii, I learned to eat it in very flavorful dishes from many of my Asian friends. I learned that there are different styles of tofu. I preferred the firmer tofu.

I also had a friend in the mid-1980s in Seattle who was a bit of a "hippie," and older than I was. She had been a vegetarian most of her life. By this time, I was back to eating meat, but was eating vegetarian and vegan meals about half the time. She invited me over for dinner. She served a vegetarian taco with a fried, spiced tofu that I absolutely loved.

I learned to make this recipe and still remember to this day. It has been awhile since I have made it. I used to make it about once a week, and served it cold or hot. I would make tacos one night, and then use it cold in pita bread with veggies for a lunch sandwich the next day.

My friend, Rita's Spicy Tofu Filling

  • 1 lb. firm tofu
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp. each: turmeric, basil, thyme, curry powder, ground cumin
  • 3 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 2 Tbsp. tamari soy sauce
  • 2 Tbsp. nutritional yeast


  • Pat the tofu dry, pressing slightly to squeeze out some of the moisture.
  • Dice the tofu into uniform cubes (1/2-inch).
  • Heat oil in skillet or wok over high heat and saute for about 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat, and drain any water out, and then add turmeric and stir to coat. It will be a beautiful yellow color.
  • Add the basil, thyme, curry powder and minced garlic. Add a little more oil, if needed so it doesn't stick. Turn up the heat.
  • Add soy sauce and nutritional yeast, and saute until the tofu is nicely golden brown. Adjust soy sauce to taste.

Though I eat meat today, this is still one of my favorite vegetarian recipes that I still make from time-to-time today.

© Copyright 2015 Coral Levang - All Rights Reserved.

Content migrated from Bubblews. Originally written on 24 May 2014, and adapted for republishing.

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Kungfu123 wrote on February 21, 2015, 12:36 AM

I prefer tofu, too, but I am not a vegetian.

JeanC wrote on February 21, 2015, 1:11 AM

I love tofu, but don't get it as often as I want. I like to slice it and squeeze the water out and then marinade it in something, dip in beaten egg and fry it. Tasty. Will have to give tour recipe a try, looks delish emoticon :smile:

BarbRad wrote on February 21, 2015, 2:28 AM

I gave up tofu when I read that most of it we can buy has harmful additives in it and that most soy products are made from GMO beans.

nbaquero wrote on February 21, 2015, 3:51 AM

CoralLevang Why did you decide to eat meat again? I am not a vegetarian, but try to limit the amount and type of meats I eat. I think I only get tofu when I have Miso Soup. emoticon :smile:

Kasman wrote on February 21, 2015, 6:12 AM

The human race was never designed to be vegetarian. We evolved as opportunistic omnivores who would eat anything and everything we came across - including each other if times were hard! I love meat and could never become vegetarian.

Hollyhocks100 wrote on February 21, 2015, 7:07 AM

I have never seen Tofu for sale either here in Spain or in the UK. I do like veggie dishes as a change from meat or fish sometimes though.

Mommyjen wrote on February 21, 2015, 8:46 AM

When I was diagnosed with ovarian cyst and fibrodenoma, I tried to be a vegetarian. But man, it was not so easy! I guess I was vegetarian for six months only hahaha

Ellis wrote on February 21, 2015, 8:55 AM

There was a time I only drank milk....then my mum tried me on

scheng1 wrote on February 21, 2015, 9:23 AM

I love tofu in the miso soup. Tofu is a stable in many of our dishes.

valmnz wrote on February 21, 2015, 8:08 PM

I've never considered being vegetarian. I like meat too much. Comes from a good NZ upbringing I guess.