Friday, April 20, 2007

The Inscrutable Tofu

April 20

The mysterious edible substance of the East, tofu, is usually about the last thing I think about when at the supermarket, but when I buy it I realize I should do this more often. If you never think about buying tofu, you should change your ways and get to know how to work with it. It's very high in protein and soy isoflavones -- and you just know you need more of that. So get a chunk of tofu and work with me here.

First of all, if you have little kids, you should be making a lot of smoothies. A little tofu added to a smoothie is undetectable, tastewise, and makes the drink richer and smoother, as if it had ice cream in it. Smoothies are easy, just made in the blender with fresh fruit, a little juice, a few crushed ice cubes...and then sneak in about 1/4 cup of tofu per person. Don't overdo it or you'll defeat your purpose.

What to do with the rest of the tofu in the package? Here's a step you might not have heard about: Slice the slab into two-inch pieces, wrap them in towels and put a heavy weight on the bundles for about half an hour. The water will be pressed out, and you will then have tofu cutlets. Wrap them in saran and plan to use within 24 hours.

I've been told that tofu's main characteristic is its versatility. It will take on any taste you want. This encouraged me to make it Italian by rubbing the cutlets with crushed garlic and salt, bread them by dipping in flour, egg, and seasoned bread crumbs. These can be sauteed in a mixture of olive oil and tasteless vegetable oil and topped with tomato sauce. Guess what -- served with pasta, it's tofu parmagiana, but I wouldn't call it that. Let's just say it's a new Italian dish.

Similar cutlets can be made by rubbing the cutlets with salt, dipping them in flour, egg, and seasoned corn meal. I call this dish tofish and serve it with catsup or fish sauce of choice.

A more traditional dish is made by cutting the slices into cubes, marinating in soy sauce, chicken stock, garlic, ginger, and any Asian spices you like for several hours, and then baking at 350° for about 45 minutes. Serve with rice, broccoli, and whatever condiments you would have with Chinese or Japanese food.

If you're still daunted by these recipes, just make a lot of smoothies and don't forget to throw in the tofu.


sulingfei said...

welcome to my blog

Mary Lois said...

I went there and it's very sweet. Not a food blog, but I guess sulingfei likes tofu!