spicy pressed tofu salad

by Stevie on August 21, 2012

spicy pressed tofu salad

spicy pressed tofu salad

I’m so excited about this new-to-me book, Andrea Nguyen’s Asian Tofu. I saw it by chance at the local Whole Foods and was cautiously interested. I ordered a copy from the library and couldn’t put it down once I started reading. I shall have to splurge and actually buy a copy soon.

Nguyen writes in a lucid style with a modern sensibility. Despite the extremely broad sounding title, the focus here is on traditional uses of the various kinds of tofu. She’s lots of helpful illustrations and really breaks down the subject matter into digestible portions—pun intended. I made this dish last week just before we left for a trip to LA to hear fun. at the Wiltern. Mmmmm!

spicy pressed tofu salad

1 package pressed tofu cut into bite-sided cubes
2/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
4 spring onions, cut into rounds
3 tbsp canola oil
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 tbsp fermented black beans, mashed
2½ tbsp chili bean sauce
2 tsp soy sauce
½ tsp sugar
1 to 2 tbsp spicy chili oil to garnish

Andrea recommends “refreshing” the peanuts by lightly roasting them in a dry pan. Let cool. Add to tofu with spring onion.

In a small pan, add canola oil, sesame oil, fermented black beans and chili bean sauce. Heat about two minutes on medium. Remove from heat and add sugar and soy sauce.

Toss sauce with tofu. Sprinkle with some chili oil. Serve.


Moroccan carrot salad

by Heguiberto on October 26, 2010

We bought a lot of carrots at our local TJ’s store the other day and forgot them in the fridge for about a week. By the time I rediscovered them, they were dehydrated and a bit shriveled, so I decided to prepare them all at once right away. Normally, I use carrots in other things, rather than featuring them as the main attraction. This salad has convinced me to change my tune.

Moroccan carrot salad

Moroccan carrot salad

This is very simple to make. It works great as a side dish. With some leafy greens and a bit of rustic bread or simple bowl of rice, it would be a wonderful lunch, too. Steven suggested that I make it for the holidays. Carrots are a mainstay at Thanksgiving, but so often, I find them overly sweet. Moroccan carrot salad gives the festive colors and aromas but without all the extra sugar. I can’t wait to eat our friend’s signature T-day dish, roasted Tofurkey, hopefully with the mushroom sauce that I recommended. I’m going to make this carrot salad as a side. What do you think?

Moroccan carrot salad

~1 lb Nantes carrots, peeled and cut into ¼ inch rounds
½ raw peanuts
¼ cup raisins
¼ tsp cumin
¼ paprika
dash cinnamon
dash cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves, crushed
fresh black pepper to taste
2 to 3 tbsp olive oil
~3 tbsp lemon juice
fresh cilantro leaves

Place peanuts in a skillet and toast for about 8minutes, shaking the pan continuously to toast them evenly and prevent burning. Transfer to a bowl and let cool. Rub them with your fingers to remove skins. Discard skins. Set aside.

Meanwhile boil carrots in salted water until soft. Toss in raisins at the last minute to re-hydrate. Drain.

Prepare the dressing buy whisking together cumin, paprika, salt, cayenne and black pepper, crushed garlic, cinnamon, lemon juice and olive oil or just place everything in a glass jar and sake until it emulsifies. Taste and adjust flavors.

Pour dressing over carrots; add peanuts, cilantro and voilá!

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I’ve been reading this remarkable book first published in 1975, The Book of Tofu by Shurtleff and Aoyagi. At least one of the writers was heavily influenced by the American Buddhist movement and spent time at the Tassajara Zen Mountain Center near Big Sur, California. There he/they became enchanted with all things Japanese, especially the food. Eventually, the writers find themselves travelling throughout Japan, learning about traditional food preparation and becoming more and more engrossed in soy.

crumbly tekka miso over brown rice with fried tempeh

Aside from The Book of Tofu, apparently they published books of Miso and of Tempeh. These folks really believed in the power of tofu to change the world. In fact, they’re positively convinced that tofu will solve Third World hunger and in the developed U.S., will reduce obesity and early mortality while making the planet greener (because we’ll produce fewer cattle). Shurtleff and Aoyagi were visionaries, but I have to agree with Samuel Fromartz in Organic, Inc. People just aren’t willing to embrace tofu wholesale if it isn’t part of their culture. It’s too bad, really, as some of these soy recipes look very exciting.

I was inspired, at least, by The Book of Tofu and tried to re-create the recipe for crumbly tekka miso. It looked easy to make and has interesting ingredients. It’s a kind of brown sauce primarily made of miso with some vegetables and nuts. I’m not sure that I made it correctly and I did improvise by combining it with the sweetened tekka miso recipe that follows the crumbly. I didn’t have some things, like sesame oil, so I used alternatives.

Mine didn’t get crumbly, but I added water because I thought the miso needed to be thinned. And I’m thrilled to report that I finally used fresh lotus root! I’ve always wanted to try but have been shy about it.

The dish looked various shades of brown which seemed groovily authentic for this Seventies inspired meal. I fried the tempeh because The Book of Tofu says that that’s the best way. And they were right: it was absolutely delicious. The brown rice seemed to match.

In retrospect, I think that I overdosed the miso. It was too salty. Next time, I’d put in only one or two tablespoons. Otherwise, the sauce was nutty and earthy with a creamy texture broken up with the subtle crunch of the burdock root. Really, pretty good.

some key ingredients: burdock root, lotus root, carrots, ginger, miso and peanuts

crumbly tekka miso

3 tbsp. olive oil
1 burdock root, peeled, cut into two inch sticks, then soaked in water for fifteen minutes
3 small carrots, peeled and minced in food processor
1 lotus root bulb, peeled and minced in food processor
1 tbsp. grated fresh ginger
1/3 cup red miso diluted with some water
¼ cup peanuts
1 tbsp. dry white wine
2 tbsp. tahini

Heat large skillet. Add oil and burdock. Sauté for one minute then add minced carrot and lotus root. Sauté for a few more minutes. Add miso, ginger, peanuts and white wine. Simmer, stirring often, for fifteen to twenty minutes or until consistency that you prefer is reached. Mix in tahini. Let cool.

Serve over rice or as a dip for fried tempeh or raw vegetables.

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