Four Tasty Tofu Recipes

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Four Tasty Tofu Recipes

Boston Globe, January 6, 2010

Chinese steamed silken tofu with ginger and scallions
Serves 4

At Rice Valley in Newton, cooks use silken tofu, which they steam with shreds of ginger and scallion. Then they bathe the cubes in hot soy sauce and chicken broth. You don’t need a wok or steamer. Use a deep 12-inch skillet and round cake rack. Serve with white or brown rice.

1 block (12 to 14 ounces) silken tofu
1 piece (2 inches) fresh ginger, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons chicken stock
2 scallions, cut into matchsticks
1 tablespoon canola oil

1. Have on hand a large deep skillet (12 inches) with a lid. Place a 6-or-8-inch cake rack in the skillet. Add enough water to come up to the rack. You will also need an 8-to-10-inch heatproof plate or glass pie pan.

2. On a cutting board, halve the tofu horizontally; cut each half into 6 pieces to make 12 total.

3. With a wide spatula, gently transfer the tofu to the plate. Scatter the ginger on top. Set the plate on the cake rack.

4. Cover the skillet. Bring the water to a boil, lower the heat to medium, and steam the tofu for 4 minutes (check to make sure there is enough water in the skillet; add more if necessary). Turn off the heat and uncover the pan. With one end of a dish towel in each hand, carefully transfer the plate from the skillet to a heatproof surface on the counter.

5. In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the soy sauce and chicken stock until it starts to bubble gently. Turn off the heat and spoon the sauce around the tofu – not on top. Scatter the scallions on top.

6. Wipe out the saucepan. Heat the oil for 1 minute or until it starts to shimmer. Carefully pour the oil into a soup ladle. Drizzle the hot oil over all the scallions. You’ll hear them sizzle and they’ll wilt slightly and release a delicious aroma. Serve with white or brown rice. Adapted from Rice Valley restaurant in Newton.

Indonesian tofu and shrimp curry
Serves 4

1 block (16 ounces) firm tofu
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 teaspoons ground fresh chili paste (sambal oelek) or 3 red chili peppers, cored, seeded, and finely chopped
2 teaspoons turmeric
1/4 cup cashews, finely chopped
2 cups light coconut milk
1/2 red bell pepper, sliced in julienne strips
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons sugar
2 bay leaves
2 stalks lemongrass, halved and lightly smashed with the flat part of a knife (optional)
1 pound large shrimp, peeled
2 eggs, hard-cooked

1. On a cutting board, halve the tofu horizontally; cut each half into 12 pieces to make 24 total.

2. In a large skillet or wok over medium heat, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Fry the tofu pieces for about 2 minutes, gently tossing them to brown them on all sides. With a slotted spoon, transfer the tofu to a bowl; set aside.

3. In a small bowl combine the garlic, onion, chili paste or chilies, turmeric, and nuts. Work the mixture with a spoon to form a paste.

4. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add the spice paste. Cook, stirring, for 3 minutes or until it releases its aroma. Add the coconut milk, red bell pepper, lemon juice, salt, sugar, bay leaves, and lemongrass, if using. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute.

5. Add the shrimp and cook for 1 minute more.

6. Return the tofu to the pan with the whole eggs. Cook, stirring gently, for 2 minutes or until the shrimp is cooked through.

7. Remove the eggs from the sauce. Halve them and set them on top of the dish. Serve with white or brown rice. Adapted from Elsa Tian

Japanese tofu scramble
Serves 4

4 dried shiitake mushrooms
1/2 cup water
1 block (16 ounces) firm tofu
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large carrot, cut into matchsticks
2 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons sake (rice wine)
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
16 green beans, sliced diagonally into thirds
3 scallions, finely chopped
2 eggs, beaten

1. In a bowl combine mushrooms and water; set aside for 20 minutes or until soft. Drain into a bowl (reserve the soaking liquid). Rinse the mushrooms. Slice them into thin strips.

2. Working over the sink, tip the tofu upside down, holding it with your hand, to remove the liquid. Transfer to a bowl. With a spoon, break the tofu into about 10 pieces.

3. In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the carrot and mushrooms and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the tofu pieces and stir-fry for 2 minutes more; the tofu will look like crumbs.

4. Tip the reserved mushroom soaking liquid into another bowl, leaving behind the sediment. Add the soy sauce, sake, sugar, and salt to the mushroom liquid. Stir well. Pour the liquid into the skillet. Cook 1 minute or until the liquid is bubbling at the edges.

5. Add the green beans. Turn the heat to medium-high and continue cooking for 3 minutes or until almost all of the liquid has evaporated and the green beans are tender but still have some bite.

6. Sprinkle with scallions. Drizzle the eggs over the tofu mixture. Cook 1 minute and turn off the heat. Gently fold eggs into the tofu. Serve hot or at room temperature with short grain white or brown rice.Adapted from “Japanese Family-Style Recipes’’

Steamed spinach with tofu dressing
Serves 4

1 pound fresh spinach, stemmed
1 block (12 to 14 ounces) soft or silken tofu, drained (see recipe for tofu scramble)
2 cups fresh mung bean sprouts
3 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 scallion, finely chopped
1 teaspoon dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1. Rinse the spinach in a bowl of cold water. Lift it out and set in a large saucepan. Cover and cook over medium heat, with only the water that clings to it, for 2 minutes.

2. Tip into a colander and rinse with cold water. Drain the spinach and squeeze with your hands. Coarsely chop it and transfer to a large bowl.

3. Set the tofu on the spinach and use a large metal spoon to crumble the tofu. Mix it with the spinach until thoroughly blended. Set the bean sprouts in a mound on top.

4. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast the sesame seeds, stirring often, for 3 minutes or until they begin to pop and color. Reserve 1 teaspoon of sesame seeds. On a cutting board or in a mini food processor, chop the remaining seeds finely.

5. In a small bowl, combine the crushed seeds, sugar, and soy sauce. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Pour the mixture over the spinach mixture. Sprinkle with whole sesame seeds, scallion, sesame oil, and salt. Toss before serving.
Debra Samuels

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