Dish combines tofu, egg to cut beef consumption

The Whole Dish podcast: Celebrate plant-based protein in hearty, cohesive dishes

If you want to save the planet, eat beans, not beef. That’s the latest advice from a panel of experts on nutrition, agriculture and the environment.

Their recommendations for improving the food system entail a massive overhaul from field and factory to shopping cart and dinner table. But the notion of eating only a hamburger’s worth of red meat every week has prompted some incredulous responses. Mine, however, was not among them.

I all but eliminated beef from my diet decades ago primarily for reasons of health — mine and the planet’s. Rather than bore people with the particulars of my body’s sensitivity to beef, I instead often cite it as the least sustainable meat option, as least how it’s raised for the American masses. While there are innumerable processed foods that contribute to industrial agriculture’s impact on the planet, I’ve found that beef is an obvious and relatively painless item to bypass at the grocery store.

My family’s alternative strategy for red-meat consumption, as I’ve mentioned many times over the years, is to purchase a locally raised lamb annually from ranchers or 4-H participants. So mild-flavored that most guests mistake it for beef, the lamb comes with a small carbon footprint and gives us some peace of mind.

I substitute ground lamb or turkey in any dish that calls for beef, including this one from Tribune News Service. In the Asian tradition of consuming meat like a “condiment,” as we’ve all heard for some time, this Japanese specialty calls for just 4 to 6 ounces of beef — and ounce to an ounce and a half per person — combined with tofu and eggs.

This dish is an appealing introduction to soy protein, augmented with some familiar flavors, in addition to being a starting point for reducing your beef consumption. Of course, you could choose to substitute lamb, turkey or pork. Ground chicken is milder in flavor than this recipe should offer.

Tribune News Service photo

Donburi Soboro

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 carrots, minced

2 scallions, minced

4 to 6 ounces ground beef

8 ounces tofu, diced into 1/2-inch cubes

1/2 bunch spinach or 1/2 cup frozen, chopped

2 tablespoons granulated sugar

4 tablespoons soy sauce

Salt, to taste

4 eggs

Hot cooked rice, for serving

In a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat, heat the oil and sauté the carrots until tender. Add the scallions and cook until limp. Add the beef, breaking it up to prevent formation of chunks. Cook until brown. Add the tofu, spinach, sugar, soy sauce and salt to taste. Cook on low until heated through, stirring carefully so tofu doesn’t crumble.

Beat eggs and add to mixture, cooking and stirring carefully until done, for about 4 to 5 minutes. Put hot rice in 4 bowls and top with meat-egg mixture. Add hot sauce, if desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Recipe adapted by Tribune News Service from “Japanese Country Cookbook,” by Russ Rudzinski.

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