As a girl who grew up in the era of Warheads and watermelon Sour Patch Kids, when I saw the pound and a half to 1/4 cup rhubarb:sugar ratio in this recipe…I thought PSSHHHH, b**** please.  I got this.

The pain fibers in my sour tastebuds have long ago been abolished by 10-year-old blueberry warhead eating contests, in which we all gathered around and stuffed as many of those little candies into our mouths as we could take while spectators whispered about how some kid had actually been rumored to burn a hole through their tongue performing such a feat and wondered just how many that had required.  And those of us with the mouth-puckering nuggets in our mouths…well.  We tried not to frantically figure out just how many we had stuffed into our oral cavity and whether it was anywhere close to that number.


Fast forward to 15 years later.

And where once major extreme sour flavor made my heart race with enough fervor to rival that of a post run adrenaline rush…now it just makes my toes curl (in a bad way) and kind of makes me want to vomit.

Not really what you want to hear on a food blog, but hey. It can’t all be “delicious” and “MAJOR” and “OMG you need this in your life. NOW.”  Sometimes we need to keep it real.  Eat some less than stellar food and then write about how it may or may not have caused bodily fluids to evacuate my body via my mouth so that when I do say something tastes like crack you’ll know I’m not just hyperbolizing for your benefit – I mean it.

Really.  I’m doing this for you.


Moral of the story.  You can’t win ’em all.  (Unless you’re the Mets right now…in which case. YEEAAHHH you can.)

But I’ve had enough wins outside the kitchen lately (good dates with one particularly awesome boy) that one less-than-stellar meal doesn’t even feel like a loss.  It’s more of an “eh, it happened” kind of situation.

I can deal.

And that being said, I do kinda believe this dish has potential.  And it all comes back to Warheads.

You see, the beauty in those candies of yore was that once you fought through the most sour minute of your life, there was a sweet victory to follow.  Literally.

And that’s what this rhubarb sauce is missing.  The happy ending.

I mixed some brown sugar into the leftovers and they were infinitely more palatable than the first go-around.  I think they would be even better if the sugar were added within the last few minutes of cooking, so that’s what I’ve written into the recipe.  For the original recipe, check out Camilla’s blog and to see other takes on what was originally a recipe for Fish Nuggets Braised in Rhubarb Sauce, check out the Food Matters Project site.


The winner of the Del Monte giveaway is comment 51 – Lea Ann of Highlands Ranch Foodie!  I’ll be contacting you!


Tofu Braised in Rhubarb Sauce
Serves 4, adapted from The Food Matters Cookbook


  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/2 lb rhubarb, roughly chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, minced
  • salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • juice of two limes
  • 1 14 oz block tofu, pressed and cut into cubes
  • 1 lb broccoli, chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp brown sugar
  • cilantro and scallions, for garnish


  1. In a large saucepan, combine 1/4 cup sugar with 1/4 cup water.  Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves and turns a golden brown color, shaking the pan occasionally, 5-10 minutes.
  2. Turn off the heat and stir in 1/4 cup water.  Turn the heat back to medium-high and cook, stirring constantly, until the water dissolves in the caramel.
  3. Add the rhubarb, onion, and jalapeno to the pan.  Sprinkle with salt and adjust the heat so that the mixture bubbles but doesn’t boil.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables start to melt into the sauce, about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in the black pepper and lime juice.  Add in tofu and broccoli.  Cover and cook for five minutes or until broccoli is fork-tender.  Taste and adjust the seasoning, adding brown sugar as necessary.  Serve over rice, garnished with scallions and cilantro.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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69 Responses to Tofu Braised in Rhubarb Sauce {the food matters project}

  1. Wow, what an interesting sauce! I’ve never used rhubarb for a savory dish. So you use the sauce too, right, not just braise it in there?

  2. I love the honesty and probably wouldn’t like such a sour dish anyway. Nothing a little extra sugar can’t help:-)

  3. I wasn’t that crazy about this dish either, even though it sounded promising. Not one of Bittman’s best recipes

  4. Hurray for rhubarb. I’m realyl looking to expand my tofu horizons (beyond the go-to stir fry). Sauces like this are just the inspiration I need!

  5. OohLookBel says:

    I used to love Warheads too, though one at a time, heehee! I can see why you put sugar into this dish – it makes everything better.

  6. Love your story-telling. And AMEN for keeping it real.

  7. Elizabeth says:

    So refreshing to hear that kind of honesty. I don’t often see rhubarb in savory dishes, so interesting to hear about this.

  8. Sam says:

    Where did you get rhubarb? I’ve been scouring the markets for it!

    I had this same issue with another of Bittman’s savory rhubarb dishes. He’s a brilliant food/recipe writer, but I think he must have a sour tolerance above and beyond the rest of us. Either that or rhubarb, like strawberries, is sweeter in CA.

  9. I wondered when I saw this recipe…and happy to hear what you did to make it a bit more palatable.

  10. Kim says:

    I feel the same way about posting recipes my failures. I think the failures are just as important as the successes. In fact, I think the failures teach us even more.

  11. I’m confused. So do I make this? Do I not? I have rhubarb that needs cookin’ and I need to get rid of it!! Also, good dates are awesome! Hopefully this boy keeps bringin’ the good.

  12. Faith says:

    Thanks for being honest with us! I think you’re right — with a little adjusting, maybe this dish could be a winner. I really love that pretty salmon color that the rhubarb turned the tofu — I don’t want to give up on that, lol!

    P.S. I was a total Warheads girl too. 🙂

  13. Camilla says:

    I am so glad that you actually found rhubarb! Sorry that this recipe wasn’t a hit, even with the right ingredients. But you get a gold star for effort…gorgeous photos of your dish. Gotta love Warheads. See you next week for our next adventure of Bittman’s.

  14. Saguna says:

    Rhubarb and jalapeno- wow sounds interesting! I think I’ll probably be spooning in lots and lots of brown sugar…

    Can totally imagine the tongue-burning childhood ritual you described! Personally though I’ve always been a sweet-toothed person, 15 years ago I was spooning dry cinnamon into my mouth from the jar, weird child that I was.

  15. Pam says:

    I definitely like mine on the sweeter side, so I would add lots more sugar!

  16. Amy says:

    I was just writing a post about this – how when you’re a blogger trying new recipes constantly, they can’t all be homeruns. Get out of my head, Joanne!! More importantly, do you remember pop rocks? And the rumor of how if you swallowed an entire bag at once, your throat would explode? Or maybe that was when I was a kid…

  17. Ben says:

    The Mets are winning all? OMG it’s the end of the world! Hehehe. Oh, and thanks for being so considerate with us, your loyal followers 🙂

  18. Margarita says:

    Hey, pat on your back for making it turn alright after adding the sugar in! Mine didn’t turn out so well either… 🙁

  19. I actually saw your tweet about how you weren’t very pleased with this dish & that it was just too sour. I ended up not even being able to find rhubarb, but your tweet helped me to think of using beets instead since they are naturally sweet. I figured they might lend a little better to the small amount of sugar called for in the recipe.

  20. Sarah says:

    I actually saw your tweet about how you thought this dish was too sour and I’m glad I did. I wasn’t actually able to find fresh rhubarb so I tried beets instead. I figured their natural sweetness might work a little better with the small amount of sugar called for in the recipe.

  21. Kristen says:

    This recipe was a bit of a failure for me too. I totally agree that it is important to blog about the failures as well as the successes 🙂 Plus, whenever you say something is amazing, I’m usually drooling over my keyboard so you know I believe you 🙂

  22. Shannon says:

    glad the brown sugar saved leftovers! i hate to waste 😉

  23. Jenna says:

    Wow, the rhubarb kind of gives the tofu a meaty hue–it actually looks kind of like chicken in that first picture!

  24. Cathleen says:

    Haha, I remember warheads. It’s so hard to find them now…
    But this looks simply delicious! I don’t even know where to find rhubarb, but I will be on the lookout from now on 🙂

  25. What an interesting recipe! The only savoury recipes I’ve ever seen using rhubarb are as a sauce for mackerel or pork, or in a lamb stew. I love the idea of this combination, especially as I’m a huge rhubarb fan!

  26. Blond Duck says:

    I’ve never liked sour stuff.

    Thought about you today when I didn’t hit my stride until mile 4… 🙂

  27. Dining Alone says:

    Now this is intriguing! I have not had rhubarb in a million years.

  28. tofu in rhubarb sauce…a really interesting and original tofu recipe. I would want to try it too.

  29. what an awesome use of rhubarb! i love the second to last pic of the stalks 🙂

  30. Jenn Kendall says:

    such an interesting post and recipe! definitely intrigued by this!

  31. I don’t think I’ve ever had rhubarb in a savory dish. Interesting idea though!

  32. Claudia says:

    I’m trying wrap my brain (it’s possible) around savor rhubarb and tofu. Yes, it’s possible. I keep looking for the strawberries. I must be becoming Minnesotan in my old age.

  33. rhubarb sauce? Could you get any more creative? WOW!

  34. sally says:

    My mouth is puckering just thinking about all of the Sour Patch Kids and Warhead that I ate growing up. I am intrigued by this rhubarb sauce though.

  35. I don’t think I’ve ever tried rhubarb in a dinner recipe .. I can’t really picture how it would taste but I could see how it would have potential to make something really interesting! Hope you keep experimenting and share the results with us 🙂

  36. vianney says:

    sorry it was lack luster. I would have never thought to pair tofu with rhubarb.

  37. Lexi says:

    I had to do a major rescue of the sauce but it ended up good.

  38. I just spotted rhubarb at the market, too.. so exciting! If you want redemption with the rhubarb, try this tofu dish with a zesty rhubarb sauce:

    But yeah, you can’t win them all! Score on the outside the kitchen hits!! 🙂

  39. I’ll be honest with you – not a lot of people can make tofu look good but it seems like you have perfected that skill! Yum!

    Oh and I should really try rhubarb one of these days 🙂

  40. I’ve never attempted braised tofu. Actually, tofu isnt really on my list of any attempts apart from stirfry lol. This looks like something I would def try. Plus its getting a little chilly here so its perfect 😀 hope you had a fab Easter Jo!!!

  41. Candace says:

    I would have to sweeten that stuff up though in order to eat it. I’m accustomed to rhubarb in dessert only. Some tartness is a good thing; but I think I would be a wimp with too much. I’ve been wanting to try a rhubarb sauce with a savory meal for awhile now. I can’t wrap my head around tofu so I’m thinking pork.

  42. Kalyn says:

    I’m not a rhubarb fan, but I would definitely try this!

  43. kyleen says:

    Ahh, I remember warheads and sour keys and sour patch kids! Our teacher used to give us candy every Friday afternoon in elementary school and I’d always go for the warheads. I actually still like sour stuff, but anything sour definitely needs something sweet to balance. This dish looks amazing, even if it didn’t taste as good as it could.

  44. A fascinating pairing… One that I will have to try. By the way, I love the photos in the post. Really captured the dish!

  45. daphne says:

    I wouldn’t have thought of that! Rhubarb and tofu! You come up with the most creative combination!!!

  46. Pam says:

    Keeping it real is a good thing! I never post my fails, which there are PLENTY by the way, I am just to embarrassed to admit them.

    I couldn’t do this dish because 1. It has tofu (you know how I feel about tofu) and 2. it has rhubarb which is just not my thing unless it’s in a pie with lots of sugar, butter, and strawberries.

    You win some, you loose some.

    P.S. What happened to the latest guy? I never heard if you had more than 3 dates? Is he still a keeper? Living a 20 something girls single life vicariously through you remember? Keep me posted! n 😉 xoxo

  47. Pam says:

    Nice – loose? I meant lose! It’s time for bed…. obviously!

  48. Yum! What a unique and delicious-sounding meal! I love the idea of rhubarb and jalapenos together. Perfection!


  49. Thanks for keeping it real. This tofu recipe is great!

  50. tigerfish says:

    Rhubarb is an ingredient I have not tried using before in my kitchen!

    Your tofu dish is a good vegetarian version of the Chinese spicy mapo tofu.

  51. You have such beautiful pictures of food and this tofu dish over rice looks so delicious. Using rhubarb is definitely interesting and I’m curious to try! I can’t keep my eyes away from this beautiful dish, Joanne!

  52. haha, thanks for your honesty! I’m so glad to hear things are going to well with “the boy.” 🙂

  53. Hotly Spiced says:

    Warheads are evil! I’m sure they’re made with poison and I can’t believe we all ate them. What did we like about them? What an interesting dish and again, you’ve photographed it so beautifully. It looks extremely inviting. I’d love a bowl right now because I’m starving and it’s late afternoon and I haven’t had any lunch! xx

  54. Katerina says:

    Tofu is my son’s latest discovery so I think this salad would be very good for him although I have to substitute rhubarb as we don’t have it in Greece! Looks very fresh and tasty Joanne!

  55. I love the lead in story! I never had food stuffing competitions – but we ate an entire tree worth of apricots in one day 🙂 Glad to hear the dates are going well!

  56. Barbara says:

    Rhubarb’s tricky to mix in a savory dish. You made a great try, though! 🙂

  57. Erica says:

    This dish sounds interesting and delicious!I love reading your stories….;)

  58. I cant wait till our rhubarb is grown in our garden! 100% I am going to plan in your tofu rhubarb into my rhubarb to do list. the combination is simply brilliant joanne!

  59. brocstar says:

    Another ingredient that I’ve never actually cooked with (or eaten much).. rhubarb. But warheads? Oh.. painful memories.

  60. That Girl says:

    I definitely remember warheads! We used to load up on them at the candy store beside the movie theater.

  61. I think I may be too old, or maybe its a Canada vs USA thing where we didn’t have them…yup I’ll go with that instead of old…

  62. grace says:

    what an interesting use for rhubarb! i’m still waiting for our woefully short season to begin. 🙂

  63. I love rhubarb season! This is definitely an interesting use of it!

  64. Wish I could warm up to tofu but you got me at the rhubarb sauce – I love rhubarb and can’t wait for my new plants to start giving me enough to use in my kitchen!

  65. Reeni says:

    I’ve only ever had rhubarb once before! This sounds interesting – I like the idea of brown sugar or maybe even honey? I’ve been eating tofu a lot lately and need some new recipes like this to try!

  66. Oh my god, Warheads!!! I totally remember them. I loved the sour ones but my brother used to eat the hot ones. I begged him if I could have one one time, but I had to run it under a water fountain to get off the hot part (without him seeing) so he wouldn’t think I was too wimpy to eat it.

    That being said, I LOVE sour things and will most definitely be trying this 🙂

  67. Chris says:

    My 24 y/o used to love warheads and your mere mention of them literally made my mouth water, seriously.

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