Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tofu for Dummies

Posted By on Tue, Jul 14, 2009 at 3:24 PM

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The first time I ever tried to cook with tofu, I sliced it up, plopped it on a cookie sheet, and baked it with salt and garlic powder. It ended up gelatinous and and not quite the right flavor.

My experience left me with a bad taste in my mouth (literally) and it was a long time before I tried tofu again.

In fact, the next time I was standing in front of the tofu section at my grocery store, I had a small panic attack. Words like “silken,” and “firm” had me wanting to run for the meat counter.
For those of you who might be tofu-challenged, here is a brief rundown of your options:

•Silken —Great for making smoothies, creamy fillings, or spreads.
•Soft — Good for filler in meatloaf, or crumbled as a ricotta cheese substitute in lasagna.
•Firm — Perfect for marinating, broiling, or baking.

Once you open tofu, place any unused portion in a sealed container, cover with water and store in the fridge.

Super Top Secret Tofu Tip
Okay, it’s not really top secret. But it’s definitely a good insider tip, from a former vegan cook. Freeze your tofu, and defrost it right before you need to use it. For some mysterious reason, the tofu has a more porous, meaty texture.

Just don’t ask me to explain how that’s possible. I don’t want to have a relapse back to the meat counter.

Tofu Pad Thai
½ package linguini Thai rice noodles
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
6 green onions, minced
½ teaspoon ground dried chili pepper
1/3 cup tofu - extra firm
½ lime
Salt and ground pepper, to taste
Large handful each of chopped basil and cilantro
2 tablespoons peanuts, finely chopped
1 cup bean sprouts
Jar of fish sauce

Soak dry noodles in lukewarm water for 5-10 minutes. Julienne tofu and cut into 1 inch long slices. Squeeze tofu in paper towel until all the moisture is soaked up. Pour lime juice over tofu; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat oil large skillet or wok. Sauté garlic and green onions. Add tofu; sauté until browned.
Place chopped basil and cilantro in a serving bowl. Top with bean sprouts, drained noodles, and tofu. Sprinkle chopped peanuts on top. Drizzle with fish sauce and serve.

(Image: mcphee.com)

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