January 29, 2013 § 3 Comments
I’m a fan of tofu. Not a crazy fan, but a fan nonetheless. And I’m not sure how it happened. Omitting red meat and poultry from my diet accounts for some of my fandom, I guess. Quite honestly, I am just going to let me fondness of tofu exist for what it is. Why bother explaining, right?
The best tofu I ever had was in a take-out dish from a Chinese restaurant in Ithaca, New York, about 18 years ago. The name, the flavorings, the accompaniments all escape me now. The one piece of the dish that remains in my memory is the tofu. Crispy on the outside. Soft on the inside. The closest thing to a McDonald’s french fry this side of the Golden Arches. I want that. I crave that even.
In the absence of that crispy tofu dish, I’ll take this tofu noodle soup. Soy sauce is in there, but it’s not too salty. And the hoisin gives it that … umami. There, I said it. Umami, that fifth and most flavorable of the basic tastes. A bowl of this broth will satisfy me for lunch. The tofu and noodles make it a real deal meal.
I’ve adapted this recipe – and I keep adapting each rendition of it – from a VegNews Magazine newsletter. I found that the original recipe had too little broth and way too many noodles. A halving of this and a doubling of that with on-the-fly adjustments takes care of that problem.
1 thinly sliced yellow onion
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tbs grated fresh ginger (about an inch or less)
4 tbs hoisin sauce
4 tbs soy sauce
9 cups vegetable broth (or water)
1 15-oz. package extra-firm tofu, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 8-oz. package rice noodles, cooked and drained
4 tbs rice vinegar
4 tsp Asian hot sauce
Scallions, bean sprouts and cilantro to sprinkle, if desired
- In a large pot, saute the onion in about 1 tbs of oil over medium-high heat until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and ginger and saute for another 30 seconds or so.
- Stir in hoisin, soy and broth. Bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and let cook for 15 minutes.
- Stir in tofu, noodles, vinegar and hot sauce. Now, here’s an embarrassing thing: I have JUST NOW realized the recipe calls for cooking the noodles FIRST, then adding them to the pot. This explains a lot. Well, adding them at the end is fine, too—just simmer them in the broth for about 5 minutes or so.
- Serve soup in bowls and sprinkle with scallions, sprouts and/or cilantro if you so choose.
Next time, I’ll boil up the noodles beforehand THEN add them to the soup and report back to you if there is a major difference. Meanwhile, enjoy!
July 5, 2012 § Leave a comment
Tofu. Exciting stuff.
Exciting stuff that you most likely stay away from. Am I right? “Meh, whatever. I’ll have the chicken,” is what you’re saying.
The best tofu I’ve ever eaten was takeout from this hole-in-the-wall Chinese place in Ithaca, New York, about 18 years ago. It was a bit spicy with a shockingly crisp texture. No idea what they did to it but I can still remember how tasty it was.
While trolling the Web in search of what to do with tofu, I came across a fabulous marinade. And by fabulous I mean I had all the ingredients on hand and it was super-simple to make. The recipe has been on a Post-It Note on the fridge for about 8 months now, and before I lose it down that mysterious gap between the icebox and the counter, I thought I’d post it to Dainty for safekeeping.
Okay, so … you marinate this tofu baby. Then what? The cooked marinated tofu slabs go well with an Asian-style slaw. Put both in a wrap or on top of brown rice. A little added soy sauce is a good addition for the latter, as well.
1 tbs balsamic vinegar
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp agave nectar
1 tbs minced ginger (a heaping tsp of ground ginger works, too, and gives it a tiny bit sweeter flavor)
1 tbs minced garlic
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp coriander
1/4-1/2 tsp cayenne
*This recipe easily doubles BUT think twice before doubling the cayenne. A double recipe will more than adequately cover a standard block of tofu cut into 1/4-inch slices.
-Combine all ingredients in a tall-sided container and whir up with a hand-held immersion blender. Or, put in a regular blender. Blending isn’t totally necessary, but I feel it gives the marinade more body than just a simple whisking. It then holds onto the tofu better.
-Brush overtop 1/4-in. tofu slices, and the sides, too, if you wish. You may have extra marinade – keep that around to pour on top of your wrap or tofu rice bowl.
-Let sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two. Then place slices bottom-side down in a medium-hot pan. Flip after 3 minutes. Flip again after three minutes—this helps get the marinade onto the side that wasn’t brushed.
We used the marinated tofu in a brown rice bowl along with a raw corn-cabbage slaw and some leftover sauteed mushrooms that we reheated in the same pan used to cook the tofu. A sprinkle of nama shoyu or regular soy sauce gave the dish a nice pop.
What’s your favorite tofu marinade? Please share below – it’s good to have more than one in your recipe book!
March 19, 2012 § 4 Comments
Hearty soups … yes, I love them. And the ones I make are nearing the definition of stew. But every once in a while I will be in the mood for something light, breathy and brothy.
This Asian-Inspired Soup is a riff on something Mark Bittman published in March 2011. He gave three simple (very simple) recipe suggestions in each of four categories: creamy, brothy, earthy and hearty. The second and third recipes are slight twists on the first in each category. By the end of making the twelfth, he says, you’ll never need to follow another soup recipe.
With a package of firm tofu and some leftover chickpea broth (remember that from Pressure Cooker Basics?), I twisted Mark Bittman’s own Asian twist on brothy soups.
- 8 cups water, in this case chickpea broth and water
- 1/4 cup chopped scallions (about 3-4)
- 1 package firm tofu, drained and cubed
- 4 oz oyster mushrooms, roughly chopped
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs sesame oil
-To a large pot add the water or broth, scallions, tofu, mushrooms, soy and sesame.
-Heat over a medium-high flame to just boiling, them bring to a quiet simmer, partly covered. Let simmer for … 15 minutes? 20 minutes? It’s up to you and how tender you like your oyster mushrooms. Check it at 15, then check the mushrooms every few minutes.
-Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a few chopped scallions. You might enjoy a crispy baguette to dunk.
Seriously, I tried to make this soup sound difficult/complex/sophisticated/finicky. But that’s just impossible. This soup is just way simple. And delicious.
Any Asian-inspired and simple soup suggestions or ingredient ideas? Leave a comment and let me know.
April 28, 2011 § Leave a comment
Several weeks ago I attempted my first-ever Indian-spiced meal. Cauliflower masala. Turned out pretty well—read about it HERE. That was then followed by a chana bateta from the Brooklyn Eats blogger, not blogged about here but really tasty. That one includes potatoes in a homemade tomato-based curry. From those two recipes I figured if you have some mustard seeds, cumin, coriander and a touch of heat—and a whole bunch of other stuff—you can whip up a curry.
Last night’s meal is what I’m calling Dainty’s Concocted Curry. I had 2/3 cup of coconut milk I needed to finish off, and I didn’t have all the ingredients for either of the above recipes, so I kinda/sorta combined the two. Believe me, it can be tweaked here and there, especially in the heat department. But I’m pretty proud that I even attempted getting jiggy with these East Asian flavors.
Dainty’s Concocted Curry
2 shallots, thinly sliced
3-ish garlic cloves, minced
0.5-1.0 TBS grated ginger
1-2 TBS oil (I always use olive but you can use canola)
1 tsp mustard seed
1.5-2 tsp cumin
2 tsp coriander
0.5-0.75 tsp cayenne (Would have added a touch more if we had it.)
1 tsp tumeric
couple pinches fenugreek
1 28 oz. can whole tomatoes
2 big dollops of tomato paste
2/3 cup coconut milk
salt and pepper
-Heat oil in a fairly deep fry pan, medium heat. Add shallots and garlic. Move ’em about in the pan now and then and you’re looking for them to be a bit translucent or, better yet, wilted. At this point I just grate the ginger right on top of that, guesstimating a tablespoon’s worth.
-While this is happening, put the mustard seeds in a small skillet with a slight amount of oil and heat on med-high. Cover! These seeds will start popping when they are ready – not long, about 3 minutes.
-When shallots/onions/ginger are done, add mustard seeds and all the spices to the mix. Stir about – it’ll be kinda pasty. You just want to get some heat on them to begin releasing their aromas. Doesn’t take long – a minute or two.
-Now, this can of whole tomatoes—one recipe called for one diced tomato, the other for a 14 oz can diced tomatoes. Other than a handful of cherry tomatoes, all I had was this 28 oz can of whole tomatoes. Open the can, reach on in there and grab one or two tomatoes, hold it over the pan and squeeze—carefully, otherwise it’ll squish tomato juice all over you. Do this for the entire can, then add the juice. And also add the tomato paste‚—that’ll help thicken it. Add coconut milk and stir. Give it a taste and see if you need to add salt or anything extra. Since I added way more tomatoes than I needed, I gave the mix a few extra shakes of all the spices except the cayenne (no more left) and the mustard seeds. Bring to just about boiling, then turn down to simmer and thicken. We had this on low while our brown rice was cooking for 45 minutes. Stir now and then and check up on it.
We’re pretty much done at this point. We did a take-out sorta thing with this when it came to assembling the meal. I roasted some broccoli and also baked some marinated sliced tofu. We put a big spoonful of brown rice in a salad-sized bowl, added some of the broccoli and a few tofu slabs, and then spooned the curry on top. Not too bad, I have to say.
You? You can add some cubed potatoes (as in one of the original recipes) and let those cook away while the curry is simmering. Or, maybe add some mushrooms. Maybe some stir-fried chicken. Steamed veggies. It’s a curry, and you can use it to add a little East Asian flair to your Wednesday evenings without leaving the house.