Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tofu for you?

Yes another tofu post. For those of you who have not tried and are wary of it I have one thing to say....try it! The great thing about tofu is that it is inexpensive, even the organic tofu, AND it will take on the flavour of anything you want. It comes in various textures so it can be used for savory and sweet things and it can be used to add a creamy thickness to dips in place of sour cream or mayo.
I really love the scrambled tofu that is detailed in this post and I'm sharing another favourite tofu recipe here. Of course, you could omit the tofu and just have veggies, or you could add another source of protein. Shrimp or chicken would work well but I encourage you to try the tofu....please!

Panang Tofu Curry
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil (I use sesame oil)
1/2 cup chopped shallots
2 tbsps finely grated ginger
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/4 cup organic natural peanut butter
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp hot chili paste such as sambal oelek (available in the ethnic food section)
1 cup water
1 can organic coconut milk(I use the full fat version rather than the light as I find the light too watery)
3 tbsp fresh lime juice and 1 1/2 tsp finely grated lime peel
1 tbsp firmly packed brown sugar
2 x 14 oz packages of organic firm or extra firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
3 medium carrots peeled and sliced thickly on the diagonal
1 large reg bell pepper cut into 3/4 inch pieces
1 head broccoli, cut into bite size florets, lightly steamed
1 tbsp black sesame seeds
This recipe is from Bon Appetit February 2009 edition. The only changes I have made from the original recipe is to use sesame oil instead of olive oil, used full fat coconut cream and I also added broccoli and the sesame seeds. I also find that a splash of soy sauce or fish sauce is nice to add some saltiness but that's optional and I LOVE salt so I'll leave it up to you.

Before you start, I suggest some preparation with the tofu to maximise the texture and it's ability to soak up some serious flavour. Tofu is usually packed in water (or something that I assume to be water). Drain this off and dry the tofu block. Paper towel works best as it sucks the moisture out. Then cut up your tofu and lay all the pieces on a few layers of paper towel. Place more paper towel on top and lay something heavy, such as the heavy based pan you are going to use to cook in, on top to help press out the liquid. One the tofu is a little drier, you can use it like that, or you could marinate it for as long as possible in the following mixture (taken from The Eat Clean Diet Cookbook by Tosca Reno):
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 tbsp black bean sauce
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce
1 tbsp water

Once they have marinated for a bit, remove tofu from marinade and pat dry again with paper towel.

Roll the tofu pieces in black sesame seeds or just sprinkle them on top so they stick. This ensures the tofu crisps up nicely and the sesame seeds give a nice taste and they look cool in contrast with the whiteness of the tofu.

The recipe adds the tofu in it's raw state to the already prepared sauce. I prefer to cook the tofu first to crisp it up and then add it back in to the sauce later. This is how I do it.
Heat some sesame oil in a heavy based pan until hot. Add tofu (either plain or marinated) and it should sizzle on contact.
Let all the pieces sit in the pan for 1-2 mins until done on that side and then turn all the pieces. Do this until all 4 sides of the cubes are crisped. Remove from pan and resume original recipe plan as follows:

Heat oil in heavy based frying pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add shallots, ginger and garlic. Cook until shallots are tender, about 6 mins.
Add peanut butter, turmeric, cumin and chili paste. Stir until fragrant, 1-2 mins.
Whisk in 1 cup water, then coconut milk, lime juice and peel, and brown sugar. Bring to a simmer.
Season with salt or soy sauce if you wish.
Add carrots and bell pepper and simmer over medium heat until carrots are tender, adjusting to med-low heat if beginning to boil. Occasionally stir gently. This will take about 20 mins.
I add the tofu and the steamed broccoli at the end so that they retain their firmness although the recipe calls to add the tofu with the carrots and pepper.
Serve over jasmine rice or brown rice if you are being uber healthy.

Yes, that is zuchinni you can see in the picture. See, you can add any vegetables you like. Recipes are just a guide anyway. Designed to get you started and then you take it and run with it!

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