Friday, August 6, 2010

Tofu, the battle

I've never been a huge fan of tofu, but the time has come to embrace it. My reluctance to date is not so much the blandness it too often has, but the texture. I don't do well with cottage-cheese-type textures -- and this is precisely what soft tofu reminds me of. I've been avoiding it for nearly a year and a half.

But that's it -- the avoidance is over. There's a 385 g block of extra firm tofu on my counter. By the end of the day, it should be in my tummy.

The meal to conquer all fears: Pan-fried tofu with wine marinade, udon noodles, and slow cooked shiitake

Pan-fried tofu with wine marinade (2 people)

What you need:
  • 1 block extra firm tofu (300-400 g)
  • 2 tsp sunflower oil
  • 2 tbsp butter, at room temperature, cut into three equal pieces
  • 3 spring onions (green and white parts)
  • 3 tbsp sweet wine
  • 3 tbsp dry wine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
What you do:
  • Wrap the tofu in several layers of paper towels, place it on a plate, and put something heavy on top. A large recipe book works well. Leave for about half an hour, changing the paper towels as necessary, to ensure that all excess liquid is removed from the tofu. This is especially important if, like me, you want your tofu to have some bite.
  • Make the marinade: dice the spring onions and mix with both wines and soy sauce in a large shallow bowl.
  • Cut the tofu into pieces approximately 1 x 1.5 x 1.5 inches. Soak them in the marinade for at least 15 minutes.
  • Heat the oil in a pan, along with one piece of the butter. Over medium heat, cook the tofu pieces for 10-12 minutes, turning them over halfway through. The edges should be browned when they are finished. Don't forget to reserve the marinade.
  • Meanwhile, cook the udon noodles in rapidly boiling water for eight minutes. At the same time (yes, this is a four-burner meal), gently simmer the marinade as the tofu is cooking.
  • To serve, place the udon noodles in a deep bowl. Top with tofu, reduced marinade, and one slice of butter.

Slow cooked shiitake

What you need:
  • 10-12 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • scant tablespoon sesame oil
What you do:
  • Place the shiitakes in a small bowl and cover with hot tap water. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and use a knife to make several small air vents. Microwave for one minute. Remove from microwave and let sit until mushrooms are soft (5-10 minutes).
  • Drain the shiitakes and cut out the stems. Reserve the liquid.
  • Heat the oil in a wok and fry the mushrooms over medium-high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring continuously. Do not let the mushrooms burn.
  • Reduce heat to low, and add 1/3 cup soaking liquid, soy sauce and sugar. Simmer until the liquid is nearly all gone. Remove from heat and stir in sesame oil.
  • Leave the shiitakes to cool, and serve with a bit of salad.

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