Puffy naan, saag tofu

Puffy naan, saag tofu

Puffy naan, saag tofu

Little Nettle and I have been upping our flatbread game. While making Vegan Richa’s puffy restaurant style naan we divided the batch: half to hand pat out and half to roll to see how we felt about the difference. It turns out that we prefer the hand patted ones - but the rolled out ones are also amazingly tasty and way faster. Served with Bryant Terry’s brilliant green saag tofu.

Puffy naan, saag tofu close up

Puffy naan, saag tofu close up

(Unicorn food doesn’t have to be sweet - this emerald savory dish is at home in any rainbow.)

Stuffed mini tofu omelets

Packing a lunch for Little Nettle to eat in the forest is a careful balancing act that my sweetheart has been managing. Can she open whatever container her lunch is in? Will it stay hot enough? Will it be easy to eat sitting on a log?

Stuffed mini tofu omelets

Stuffed mini tofu omelets

Enter these stuffed mini tofu omelets, based on Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipe in Isa Does It, which is a variation on her classic Tofu Omelet. Filled with roasted potatoes and broccoli - and nut free - they make an easy addition to the lunchtime repertoire. They can be messily handheld, neatly tucked into a sandwich or eaten with a fork out of a thermos.

Stuffed mini tofu omelet close-up

Stuffed mini tofu omelet close-up

They’re super fast to make if you already have roasted vegetables lying around - I think roasted peppers would be a tasty addition. As a bonus, tiny sous chefs can help out with every step - except maybe taking in and out of the oven.

baked fox-ear tofu and ginger bok choy

I sometimes plan fantasy trips where I go to Japan, take trains everywhere, and get to eat all the local delicacies at the train stations. It sounds so much more exciting than any Greyhound station stop I've ever been to: fresh, local specialties almost inevitably with a vegan option? Sign me up, please.

fresh, local bok choy and medium tofu


Planning such a fantasy trip is how I first learned about foxes and tofu. In Japan, fox-spirits are said to really like aburaage, deep-fried tofu. Noodle dishes with aburaage are called kitsune-udon or kitsune-soba depending on the type of noodle - and the tofu is cut into triangles to mimic the shape of fox ears! Now I'm hard pressed to cut tofu in any shape but triangular whenever I make a Japanese meal. Or any meal, really.

baked fox-ear tofu and ginger bok choy over soba noodles

baked fox-ear tofu and ginger bok choy

makes 2 generous servings

baked fox-ear tofu

  • 1 lb medium tofu, pressed for one hour and cut into fox-ears
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 2 TBSP rice vinegar
  • 2 TBSP tamari
  • 2 TBSP toasted sesame seed oil
  • 1 tsp chili flakes

Mix all the ingredients together in a non-reactive container then marinate the tofu for at least one hour and up to overnight.  If marinating for longer than one hour, refrigerate.

After the tofu has marinated, preheat your oven to 400 for 20 minutes. While your oven is preheating, prep your ingredients and start your water boiling. When you put the tofu in the oven, cook your noodles first, drain the water and then cook your vegetables if you are a heathen like me who uses the same pot.

Bake tofu for 20 minutes, flipping halfway through. 

noodles 

Prepare the noodles of your choice according to directions. When I use buckwheat noodles I use 3oz dried per person (a bunch slightly less big around than a quarter) and boil them gently for 4 minutes each portion and then drain and toss with toasted sesame oil in individual serving bowls to avoid sticking.  

 ginger bok choy

  • 1 tsp canola oil
  • 1 small red onion, cut into thinly sliced half-moons
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 TBSP fresh ginger, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 4 heads bok choy, ends trimmed
  • 1 tablespoon tamari

Preheat a large pot or skillet over medium heat. Saute the red onion in the oil for 5 minutes, until the onion is translucent. Add the garlic, ginger, and red pepper flakes. Saute for another minute or so. Add the bok choy and soy sauce. Saute for another minute, until the leaves are wilted.

Top the individual bowls of noodles with the tofu and the boy choy. Serve immediately.

notes 

The ginger bok choy here is from Appetite for Reduction, I just use more bok choy without separating the stems and leaves, slightly less tamari, and serve it a little differently. It isn't very traditionally Japanese, but it is very much in the spirit of local and seasonal produce.

You can easily substitute any green vegetable in season here - broccolini, sugar snap peas - I've even used cabbage.  Just make sure to not overcook.

 Cook your noodles first and then your vegetables.  Once you toss the noodles with the oil, cover the bowl with a plate to keep warm. If everything is timed right, your vegetables will finish up at exactly the same time as the tofu. Otherwise just keep whatever's done first warm. It'll still taste good.

You can also use firm tofu here; medium tofu happens to be the house favorite.  If you like a chewier tofu, bake for longer.

Garnish with sliced green onions and toasted sesame seeds, if you like. 

I don't deep fry anything, so I bake the fox-ears.  I think fox-spirits would still like them!

 

tofu, happily ever after

Transient

Once upon a time I thought making my own tofu was impossible. Of course, once upon a time I'd eat a can of chickpeas for dinner and call it a day. Times have changed! Though I still love chickpeas.

It started with Hodo Soy. Delicious, fresh, non-GMO, medium textured Hodo Soy. Aseptic packaged tofu from the grocery store paled in comparison; my omnivorous sweetheart turned out to like fresh tofu, so I knew we  could never go back. When the Hodo Soy stand left our usual farmers market, I tracked it down at another, then another. Then it left the East Bay farmers markets completely! I hunted it down, packaged, at Berkeley Bowl West, then at Whole Foods. One day, the medium tofu was inexplicably gone forever. I started hoarding the firm tofu. What were we to do? "You'll have to start making tofu," my omnivorous sweetheart said.

I bought Andrea Nguyen's Asian Tofu. It started to seem possible. Then she put together a tiny kit for purchase. It started to seem impossible not to.

Her instructions are clear and her troubleshooting tips super helpful. I won't reprint the recipe here, but I really do recommend picking up either Asian Tofu or the smaller e-book. I do have some notes for first time tofu makers!

 


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notes

Be sure to use a large enough pot when cooking the initial soymilk. It foams! It rises! It really, really does. I had to stop halfway through the first simmer and pour it out into a larger pot. Dangerous! Even if you think it's silly to use that giant soup stockpot, do it.

Save the pulp that results from straining the soymilk. This is okara, a food in itself, high in protein and fiber. Traditionally it can be simmered in broth or sautéed with vegetables; it can also be added to baked goods or hot cereals. I made a scramble with some of my first batch and it was incredibly - almost alarmingly! - eggy in texture.

If you, like me, stock up on cartons of pumpkin purée during the autumn months, surprise! A one pound carton fits perfectly into the top of some particular tofu molds. You can also use a colander instead of a specialized mold if you don't mind having a non-rectangular block.

Be very careful when moving your brand new block of tofu from the press to your partially water-filled storage container. New tofu is delicate! Be equally careful when topping off the water to completely cover the block, use low pressure.

Clean up quickly - soymilk and tofu both are very, very sticky.

Feel like a wizard! You just made tofu! 

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