Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Two Tofu Tips

Yes, two tofu tips. Say that 10 times fast.

I have another weekend of cooking on the horizon. My baby brother is turning 30 and we are going to a bbq for him on Friday. I got roped into (or did I volunteer?) making two desserts, two appetizers, and a side dish. On Saturday I am cooking the "Market Fresh Dinner" I donated to the Phinney Ridge Community Center auction back in May - five courses. Since I haven't started anything for either of those events, I figured it was in my best interest to start cooking ahead for tomorrow's client dinners so I could free up some time to cook ahead for the other events. Whew.

Besides, tomorrow's main course is a stew and I can't think of a single stew-like thing that doesn't benefit from sitting overnight. Flavors meld, liquid gets absorbed, spices mellow - all good things. In this recipe, you are advised to freeze a block of tofu, then allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge. Once it is thawed, you squeeze all as much liquid as you can out of it and then puree it in the food processor. What I ended up with is something that looked like a spongeball, but when I added it to the stew, it just
disappeared. Almost completely - just little white flecks. Indistinguishable in a stew with lots of other ingredients.

I immediately thought of all the people I know who are trying to get more protein or soy or both into their diet (or into their children's diet), and how you could use this same technique for just about anything with a liquidy base. Any soup, tomato sauce, stew - whatever. Tofu, as we all know, doesn't really have a flavor so I really do believe you can try this with any of your favorites.

I used a pound of firm tofu for a very large quantity of stew, so maybe start with half a pound. Remove it from it's packaging and wrap it in plastic wrap, then place it in the freezer. It will turn a kind of alarming shade of yellow, but will turn back to white once it is thawed. Once thawed, squeeze out the excess water and puree.

That's tip #1. #2 has to do with silken tofu. That is the stuff that is vacuum packed in cardboard and is usually found on the Asian food aisle (not in the refrigerated section). Silken tofu is a lovely substitute for sour cream - yes, it's true! The dish I made today is a Corn, Tomatillo, and Hominy Stew and (coming from a vegan cookbook), the author advised making a Ginger Lime "Cream" to go alongside. I used a carton of silken tofu (usually around 12 oz) and pureed it in the food processor with ginger, lime juice, rice vinegar, canola oil, and salt and pepper. It has a slightly different flavor than sour cream, but the same texture and is filled with protein. It would be delicious with fajitas or enchiladas. I have also made a faux aioli with roasted garlic and lemon juice that fooled my whole dinner party. No one knew it was tofu. Do not be afraid of soy!

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