Tofu-fans, I need your help!
I bought a package of organic extra-firm tofu this afternoon, and I don't have the first clue of what to do with it.
To put this in context, I am hosting a very small birthday dinner for my husband/wife friends who both have bdays this week. The wife is vegetarian and the husband is not. I bought the tofu for her, though I have never handled tofu in my life and don't know what to do with it. (I know I can find recipes, but I would like some CH tried & true recommendations before I take off into foreign territory).
I am planning on make the watermelon/feta/mint salad for the salad course, fingerling potatoes, steak for the husband, and prob another cool accompaniment or a soup course.
So how does the tofu fit into this scenario?
Unlike a steak, tofu generally doesn't stand on it's own. It is usually part of a stir-fry or something like that, though you might try a stuffed tofu, deep-fried, with a dipping sauce. That's the only way that I've ever had tofu as a direct substitute for a piece of meat like pork chops or steak.
Tofu and potatoes, though, don't seem like they go together to me at all. You may want to reconsider your meat substitute. Perhaps you might try a recipe that calls for tempeh or another vegetable protien. Let me see what I can find...
I don't know if you have these ingredients, but we like this salad.
4 Tbl. Soy Sauce
2 Tbl. sesame oil
2 Tbl. vegetable oil
2 Tbl. Mirin -sweet cooking sauce. That's what it says on the label.
1 tsp. ground pepper
1 Tbl. crushed sesame seeds
2 blks tofu, well drained and cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1 or 2 thinly slice Japanese cucumbers-kyuri or seeded cucumbers
1 medium, seeded and cubed tomato
Radish sprouts, alfalfa sprouts or watercress-scattered on top
Bean sprouts-scattered on top
Thinly sliced brown onion-just a hint
Bonito flakes -I buy the one in a small package
Place tofu in a 9x12 baking dish. Place rest of ingredients on top of tofu making sure tofu is completely covered. Pour dressing on top and place in refrigerator for 1-2 hours. I have even made the night before and served at lunch.
To drain tofu; wrap tofu in paper towels and place in a bowl with more paper towels. Place a small dish with a weight on top. Amazing how much water is in tofu!
re: mochi mochi
I disagree that tofu doesn't stand on its own, especially if it's fresh. Mochi mochi's suggestion sounds great. Even though you already have a "salad" this could be considered more of a side dish, although you bought extra firm, which is generally used for stir fries (while silken seems to taste smoother to the palette raw).
Alternately, you could try to make agedashi tofu, one of my favorite ways to eat tofu. Haven't tried this recipe, but it looks pretty straightforward if you're willing to try it out & it might fit into your menu ok.
I recently made an absolutely delicious recipe for grilled tofu. I ended up grilling it on te stovetop because I was out of propaine, but I was amazed with the delicious results. I did blog it if you want to see a pic.
But here's the recipe. I, personally, didn't do anything but the marinade and tofu.
I highly reccomend this recipe!
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 cup red wine
1/2 cup unseasoned rice vinegar
1/2 cup Asian sesame oil
1/4 cup fruity olive oil, preferably extra-virgin
2 tablespoons hot chile oil, or to taste
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 cup sesame seed, preferably black variety
8 green onions, including green tops (optional)
Vegetable oil for brushing grill rack
Makes 4 Servings
Drain the tofu, slice each block horizontally in half, and arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet or tray lined with several thicknesses of paper toweling. Cover with more paper toweling and a second baking sheet or cutting board, top with a heavy weight (such as aluminum foil-wrapped bricks or canned foods), and let stand for i to 2 hours to remove excess moisture.
To make the Sesame Marinade, in a nonreactive bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients, mix well, and set aside.
Cut each slab of drained tofu into 4 rectangles and arrange them in a shallow nonreactive container. Pour the marinade over the tofu, cover, and refrigerate, turning occasionally, for at least 24 hours or up to 6 days; return to room temperature before cooking.
About 30 minutes before cooking, place 8 bamboo skewers in a shallow container, cover with water, and set aside to soak. Prepare an open grill for moderate direct-heat cooking.
In a small skillet, place the sesame seed over medium heat and toast, shaking the pan or stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 5 minutes. Pour onto a plate to cool.
Remove the tofu from the marinade, reserving the marinade. If using the green onions, cut each onion into 3 pieces of equal length. Then, working with 1 onion at a time and beginning with the root end, thread the 3 onion pieces lengthwise onto the soaked skewers, alternating them with 2 pieces of the tofu; thread the onion pieces in order to simulate the look of a whole onion. Alternatively, thread the tofu onto the skewers.
When the fire is ready, lightly brush the grill rack with oil. Place the skewered tofu on the rack and cook, turning frequently and brushing with the marinade, until lightly browned on all sides, 12 to 15 minutes.
Meryl - I tried a variation of this recipe and it was delicious. I am certainly not a tofu connoisseur, but two tips that your recipe also mentions helped my occasional tofu experiments:
a - Draining the excess liquid - I couldn't believe what a difference squeezing all the moisture made (the marinade didn't get diluted, the tofu wasn't soggy).
b - Marinating for at least 24 hours - this allows the tofu to absorb the flavor of the marinade...made a huge difference...
I love grilled tofu - as does my meat-eating boyfriend. Make sure you pat out the extra mosture first, and try to marinade it overnight. It's exta prone to sticking on the grill, so you may want to put it on aluminum foil. You may want to buy a quality roll in case she wants to make a BBQ Tofu Sandwich instead of eating it plain. That's what I usually do when I grill it. And it is a little more forgiving if you have a hiccup. Whatever the case, she'll be flattered you went to the effort.
(and I can never turn down a good potato ... who cares if it goes with it or not).
I made a really yummy tofu casserole (obviously not for this dinner but if you are interested in cooking with tofu, it's worth a try later) from a recipe in vegetarian times. It was a twist on a tuna casserole - roux, bowties, peas, onion, cubed tofu, topped with breadcrumbs. It was very good ... not exactly summer food though (I refuse to turn the oven on in the summer, only the grill and stovetop).
Just wanted to thank you all of you again! You have certainly helped me get over my tofu-trepidation (I don't know why I was so scared of a seemingly harmless wiggly white block?) Bon Apetit! (ps, love that idea about 'smoked' tofu; I'll have to check that out. I mean, what doesn't taste better with a little smoking?)