Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sweet and Salty Tofu

Think salted caramel with a strong hit of molasses.

I had no idea what to make tonight, but I started chopping the vegetables I had early this morning, and I figured by 5 PM something would suggest itself. I had a busy day at home organising books, culling books for donation/storage, and assembling lesson plans for the Fall semester. Between all this, I'd take fifteen minutes, to chop a few carrots, remove corn from cobs, and chop parsley. Somehow I filled a gigantic carton with books for donation (how I plan to move said box to the car, I haven't quite worked out but I suspect it will begin something like, "Dearheart? Can you do me a favour?") washed and hung the laundry out, and deposited dinner on the table. I tried my best to get into the garden, but the 98 degrees F. heat with a heat index of something like 107 convinced me that I'd be happier inside sorting books.

Yes, as a matter of fact my back does hurt, but it is from sitting on the floor sorting books-not standing on my feet. It shouldn't surprise anyone that I'm contrarian right down to the way my body aches.

I discovered something interesting going through Danny's books today-we had a number of duplicate titles. I suspect both Mr. ETB and myself share the same taste in books, and ideas about what the boy should be reading. Consistency is good for children, I guess.

Right, so you want to know about this beautiful tofu dish, don't you? Very well, but feel free to use whatever vegetables you have at home (I mean within reason-I don't think this would be very good with beets, or collard greens).

For The Tofu:

(This can be made ahead and kept chilled until you are ready to assemble dinner)

1 block extra firm tofu
1 few tablespoons cooking oil
2-3 tablespoons brown sugar (I mix dark molasses with cane sugar which is a bit deeper flavour than store-bought brown sugar, but anything will do)

Press the block of tofu dry between kitchen towels. You will need a large stack of towels (at least five) as tofu can really soak up moisture. Slicing it into 4 pieces is also a good way to press out extra moisture. Weight it with a book or something if you can. After about 30 minutes of pressing, you should be ready to cook.

Heat a pan over medium/high heat. Add the oil a tablespoon at a time-you don't want to deep fry the tofu, just fry it until it colours. Cut the tofu into cubes and fry in batches, turning with a fork until all sides are golden. Normally I would have you drain the tofu, but this time, remove it to a bowl. When all the tofu is fried, mix the salt and brown sugar into the bowl with a small bit more oil. Use more oil on the pan to keep it from sticking if you need to. Return the sugared tofu to the pan over medium high heat and cook, stirring carefully so you do not break the cubes, but moving quickly until it is golden and carmelised. Remove to a plate and chill until needed (or use right away).

The vegetables should be seasoned to offset the sweetness of the tofu. I used dry mustard, sweet paprika, salt/pepper, red pepper flakes, thyme, and fresh parsley (about a cup). I cooked the brown rice with a large bay leaf in the pot.

The vegetables used here were:
Purple runner beans

I cooked them quickly in a bit of olive oil. In the last few minutes, I mixed in the reserved tofu just to re-warm it.

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