Tag Archives: tofu

Freezer-friendly Tofu/Kale Wraps

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Looking for a second idea for our Mother’s Day bunch, my brother-in-law and I chanced upon this one. At a first glance it looked boring and bland. But our wives are suckers for healthy food and this one had Kale AND Tofu! So, we decided to make it (link to recipe here).

The recipe IS bland. However, when eaten with a nice salsa (here is one idea), it tastes pretty good. Second, use real cheese if you are not vegan. It significantly cuts down time and you don’t have to go hunting down nutritional yeast.

 

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Eggplant Schezuan Style

Eggplant Schezuan Style

Eggplant Schezuan Style

As somebody who loves to cook, if there is one thing that becomes glaringly obvious pretty quickly, its that things that look simple, aren’t. So it has been for me with making any kind of stir-fry. They are devilishly hard. They look simple and easy to put together and while it is true that you can put a palatable concoction pretty simply, getting the flavors and the crunch right is very, very difficult. The primary reason being that different ingredients have different rates of cooking but since you are making a stir fry on high heat, getting the timing right is tricky, since you have very little time to play with. One tip that seems to work well is to individually prep the ingredients and then bring them together in the sauce. And that is what seems to work beautifully with this dish.

After much trial and error, I think I have finally figured out how to get this one right. The trick is in preparing the eggplant and Tofu separately. The best part is that it is something that can be done fairly quickly and makes for a great weekday dinner. And so, without further ado, I give you Eggplant Schezuan Style…

In the wok - Schezuan Style Eggplant

In the wok – Schezuan Style Eggplant

INGREDIENTS (for 4)

1 large Japanese Eggplant (about a foot and a half long) – use two if needed

Salt

Pepper

Sesame Oil (or Vegetable Oil)

Extra Firm Tofu – half a block – cut into small cubes

4 cloves minced Garlic

Soy Sauce

3-4 Green Onions – the whites sliced thin and the greens sliced into 1/2 inch pieces – keep them separate

1 dry red chili

For the sauce (mix all the ingredients in a bowl)

1/2 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup white vinegar

1 cup water or vegetable stock

Sriracha sauce to taste – because Rooster Sauce is good in everything – start with 1 Tbsp

1 Tbsp Corn Flour

Brown Sugar to taste – start with a couple of Tbsp

STEPS

1. Slice the eggplant into chunky diagonal slices and massage some salt and pepper into them.

2. In a skillet heat some oil and sear the eggplant on both sides. You want them to just start softening but not be over cooked – a good idea is to watch the purple skin turn light, that is a good sign that you are done. Keep aside.

3. Heat some more oil in the skillet and saute half the garlic, you can also throw in some chili flakes to make some chili garlic oil.

4. Add the Tofu and pan fry on high heat. Add some Soy sauce to glaze the Tofu. Keep aside.

5. In a wok, heat about a Tbsp of oil on high heat. Add the remaining garlic and red chili. After a few seconds add the whites of the onion.

6. Let the onion just start to brown and add the sauce. Let it come to a boil.

7. Throw in the prepared eggplant and Tofu once the sauce has started to thicken, and bring everything to a boil.

8. Adjust seasoning and serve on boiled rice topped with the greens of green onion.

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New Orleans inspired Veggie Sandwich

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New Orleans has a great culinary tradition. It has been a traditional melting pot in the truest sense of the term and the cuisine reflects that. The few times I have been there I have enjoyed the food especially in places like Emeril Lagasse’s “NOLA”, which cater to vegetarians very well.

Anyway, one of the mainstays of Louisiana cuisine is a Po’Boy sandwich. There are many different theories as to how this name came about. The French word pourboire, referring to a tip given to a waiter could have something to do with it. A famous local story attributes it to the Martin Brothers, former streetcar workers, who had a restaurant in New Orleans in the 1920s. As the story goes, they served free sandwiches to striking streetcar workers who jokingly referred to themselves as “poor boys” since they were not getting paid. And so, the story continues, the name stuck.

Since most Po’ Boys are seafood or meat based, I decided to turn to my go-to versatile ingredient – Tofu. This magic protein, has worked well for me, apart from the usual Thai, Vietnamese and Chinese foods, in things like Indian food (see here) and Tacos (see here). So I cut up big chunks of Tofu and coated it with a equal mixture of cornmeal and white flour seasoned with Cajun seasoning (I used “Slap Ya Mama” since this seemed to be the only one I could find in the grocery store that didn’t have a long list of chemicals in the list of ingredients). I then pan fried it with a little bit of oil and then baked it in the oven for about 20 mins at 350F to get a nice crispy coat.

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I made the Remoulade spread loosely following the recipe here. I had no horseradish, so I skipped that. This spread was fantastic and one I would make again.

Then to assemble the sandwich, I took some leftover hot dog buns, opened them up and put the tofu on them. Covered them up with some cheese, I used Cheddar, and then broiled it so that the cheese melted.

Then the buns were taken, the Remoulade spread on them, and slices of tomato added along with some spinach leaves. And that was it. It definitely made for a pretty satisfying meal and my slow eating kid wolfed it down. Couldn’t have asked for a better complement.

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A bit of fusion: East meets, well, East

Saag Tofu with Paratha

 

A long time back, a girl I knew, mentioned that she sometimes uses Tofu instead of Paneerin her Indian dishes. I took that information, filed it away and forgot about it. Fast forward to 2012 and I was at the grocery store and picked up some fresh spinach, since it looked good and the wife has made it very clear that she expects to see more variety of food in our diet – veggies, protein, carbs etc.

It just so happened that there was some Tofu in the fridge when I got home. Even though I am over 40 and my brain is full, somewhere in the dark recesses of my frontal lobe the nugget of information gathered many years back still resided. And so a voice inside me said – “When life gives you spinach, peas and tofu, make saag tofu.” And I did. It was good. And there was much dancing and rejoicing by the fireside that night.

I was actually very surprised at how well Tofu went with Indian flavors. Since it has Tofu in what is very much a North Indian dish, I wonder if this qualifies as Indian-Chinese food.

INGREDIENTS (very very approximate, I was winging it)

1 tsp cooking oil

1/2 diced onion

2 medium tomatoes – diced

1 tsp minced garlic

1 inch piece of ginger – peeled and finely chopped

1/2 tsp red chili powder

Salt to taste

2 bunches of fresh spinach leaves – washed with the stems broken off

12 oz hard Tofu cut into small cubes (TIP: Buy Tofu, if possible, from a Chinese grocery store. It is better and significantly cheaper than a regular grocery store)

4 oz frozen peas

1 tsp garam masala

1 tsp chana masala (I added it just for the heck of it)

STEPS

1. Heat oil on medium heat and fry onions till they starting to brown.

2. Add tomatoes, garlic and ginger. Cook till pulpy.

3. Add salt and red chili powder and stir.

4. Add the washed spinach leaves and cover the saucepan.

5. The leaves should wilt quickly. Add some water and let the concoction boil for 10 minutes or so.

6. Using a wand or a hand mixer, puree the concoction.

7. Add more water if you need to. This gravy/soup should be thick and runny, like a nice thick stew.

8. Add the tofu and the peas. Turn the heat to low, cover the saucepan and cook for 10 minutes.

9. Add garam masala and chana masala. Adjust seasoning and you are done.

10. Serve with boiled rice or an Indian bread of your choice.

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Tofu Banh Mi – Vietnamese Sandwich

Tofu Banh Mi

For years the French colonized Vietnam. While one can argue both for or against colonization, there is one thing that there is no argument over: the French introduced the baguette to the Vietnamese and that was undeniably a good thing. Enterprising and adventurous cooks that the Vietnamese are, they created the Banh Mi. Definitely a high point in the sandwich’s history.

When we visited Vietnam a couple of years back, we found Banh Mi everywhere but being the carnivores that the Vietnamese are, there was not a vegetarian version to be had. And so it remained till the the last couple of weeks. I had an excellent Tofu Banh Mi in Chicago week before last and a not-so-excellent-but-still-serviceable veggie Banh Mi in, of all places, West Glacier in Montana last week. So I came back home and looked here and here and this is what I found.

For a good Banh Mi you need

1. A not-too-crusty baguette

2. Mayo

3. Daikon/Carrot pickle

4. Some herbs

5. Nicely flavored/spiced protein

So here is what I made. Turned out pretty well. This is not a purist’s Banh Mi, this is just the foodydoody Banh Mi. Very very easy to make and something you can put together when you don’t have much time. Enjoy.

INGREDIENTS (Enough for four decent sized sandwiches)

1 French baguette (not too crusty)

11 oz hard Tofu

Minced garlic

Soy sauce

Rice vinegar

Black pepper

Cooking oil

Some shredded carrot

Some sliced cucumber

Some fresh sliced jalapenos

Reduced fat mayo

Vietnamese style pickle (I used a mustard greens and carrots pickle I found at the Chinese store)

Some cilantro leaves

Some sweet basil leaves

STEPS

1. Slice the tofu into thin slices and then put it in a ziploc bag with some garlic, soy sauce, hot sauce, vinegar, black pepper and oil. I didn’t measure the exact portions but more or less winged it. You want the tofu to be very well seasoned so play around with proportions to your liking. You can do 1 tsp garlic, 1 tsp hot sauce, 2 tbsp soy sauce, 1 tbsp rice vinegar and about 1/2 tsp ground black pepper. Add a tbsp of cooking oil.

2. Put the ziploc bag with the tofu aside for an hour.

3. On high heat in a saucepan sear the tofu. You don’t need to add any more oil since there is oil in the marinade.

4. To assemble the sandwich, cut about a six inch length from the baguette. Slice it in half and scoop the inside out with your fingers. You can keep the entrails for breadcrumbs.

5. Generously smear mayo on both sides.

6. Stuff it with tofu, carrots, sliced cucumbers and some cilantro, basil and jalapenos. You can stuff as much or as little as you like.

7. Enjoy the sandwich.

NOTE: If you like, you can even toast the bread before you assemble the sandwich. If you are using a meat protein, you should be able to easy substitute the tofu for some shredded pork, grilled chicken or salami (or anything else that takes your fancy).

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