Friday, May 26, 2006

Not in my Sensory Catalogue

Relapse. Took me down for another two days. Hopefully that is the end of all that! Talk about a weight loss program!

Just before going down for round two, we were looking for some new ways to work with tofu. For a non-meat evening.

It’s strange that a food stuff that seems ideal in every way – good combination of protein and carbs, low fat, low sodium, and easy on the natural resources (producing a pound of soybeans uses a fraction of the natural resources required to produce a pound of beef) – and that is so common in large parts of the world - should be so totally bland in taste and texture. So you spend all your time finding ways to add taste, and texture, to it.

Texture is a significant part of taste. Whether something is creamy, grainy, slimy. Coats the tongue, or cleans the palate. It seems there are expected taste and texture combinations. Sensations you’ve grown up with, that you have associated with good.

And that makes tofu a hard sell in the west. Because unless you grew up on a commune, you didn’t grow up with tofu here. It is not listed in your sensory catalogue of good stuff, the way that fresh steamed lobster, or grilled steak, or strawberries on ice cream might be.

Last time, we deep fried the tofu. And that was not bad. It mainly gives the stuff a bit of texture, but no flavor.

This time, we found a method of broiling the tofu as slices brushed with olive oil until browned. This has the interesting effect of not only adding some texture, but also imparting a bit of the olive oil flavor. I think you could also add some flavor to the olive oil and try to roast some additional flavor in, like maybe Chinese five spice powder, or something like that. We’ll try that next time.

We made a spicy peanut sauce to go on top. Simple peanut butter and garlic-chili paste.

And roasted some edamame in garlic and lemon to sprinkle over it. The edemame by themselves, also being soy beans, are not necessarily bursting with any particular flavor, so the lemon – garlic really perked them up.

Everything on a bed of spinach, tossed in some rice vinegar and olive oil. And sprinkled with some purples scallions we found – at the farmer’s market of course.

The result was a vegan salad with a lot of flavor, a lot of protein, and very low in carbs. With some steamed rice on the side – so the teenagers would not starve to death. Actually, the steamed rice with the peanut sauce was pretty good as well.

Roasted Tofu in Peanut Sauce with Lemon and Garlic Roasted Edamame
Recipe by surfindaave

2 one pound tubs of firm tofu
olive oil
2 cups edamame
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lemon, juiced
1 bunch fresh spinach, washed and torn into bite sized pieces
2-3 tbsp rice vinegar
½ cup unsweetened smooth peanut butter
½ cup or to taste chicken broth (replace with water and a little salt for vegan)
1-2 tbsp garlic chili paste (found in Asian section of markets)
2-3 tbsp chopped scallions
additional sliced scallions for garnish

Cut the tofu into 1 inch thick slices. Place on paper towels, and cover with additional paper towels. Weight down with a baking sheet and a few cans, and let drain for an hour.

Wipe tofu dry with a paper towel. Brush with olive oil. Place in a baking sheet on parchment paper. Broil, without turning, until browned on one side – 10 to 15 minutes. Turn and brown on other side – 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.

Heat olive oil in sauté pan over medium heat. Add garlic and sautee for 1 minute. Add edamame and juice of lemon, and sautee, stirring. Continue to sautee until liquid is absorbed and edamame brown slightly. Remove to a plate and reserve.

In a bowl, whisk together peanut butter and chicken broth until smooth. Add chili-garlic paste and combine well. Add scallions, combine and set aside.

In a bowl, toss spinach with rice vinegar and olive oil.

To assemble salad, place some spinach on a serving plate. Place a few slices of tofu, overlapping, on top of the spinach. Spoon some peanut sauce over the tofu. Sprinkle some edamame on top. Garnish with additional slices scallions. Serve. Enjoy!

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Blogger gattina said...

your tofu with peanut sauce sounds like a good one!
There's one type of firm tofu (four thick slices in a container) even the asian store in my area not always carries it... anyway, I like to deep-fry it, it'll be crispy outside and melt-in-your-mouth inside.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Kalyn said...

Love the sound of this!

4:18 PM  
Blogger surfindaave said...

Gattina, kalyn,

Thanks for the comments!

It was a fun recipe. Lots of interesting flavors. And super low in the carbs!

5:18 PM  

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