Tofu: New take on a very old food

  • Article by: BETH DOOLEY , Special to the Star Tribune
  • Updated: February 13, 2013 - 1:36 PM

Lately I’ve found myself staring at the white blocks of fresh tofu in their plastic tubs of cloudy water on the grocer’s dairy shelf, in hopes of cooking lower on the food chain. The stuff doesn’t look alluring. But when pan-seared to be crisp outside and creamy within or when simmered in a spicy-tangy sauce, it’s light and ethereal, with a flavor so pleasingly neutral, it’s surprisingly versatile and easy to use in all sorts of dishes.

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felcusFeb. 14, 13 8:20 AM

Tofu is a lifesaver having to cook for a vegan. I usually cut into rectangles or squares (1/2" x 3/4" x depth of block, give or take) and sear it on two sides in an oil covered non-stick pan, until golden brown on each side. That's usually enough for it to hold together for a stir-fry or curry (and lets some sauce seep into the unseared parts while cooking), and it's less saturated in oil compared to deep frying. Crumbled extra-firm tofu can be mixed with veganaise, vegan sour cream (or slightly-watered-down vegan cream cheese, which I like to use), dried chives, dried dill, dried parsley, garlic & onion powder for a good vegan dip along the lines of ranch/bleu cheese. Buffalo roasted cauliflower florets are delicious with that dip. Silken can be used for many things. It's good to seer, like above, if you can do it right, but it's harder to work with because it's so brittle. It works good to thicken non-dairy smoothies, but my primary use for silken is making rich, thick dairy-free pasta. Puree silken with some EVOO, maybe a little fresh lemon juice or herbs, and mix that with semolina flour (or a gluten free flour if you choose) until doughy. Fridge that for a bit to let it settle, then let it get to room temp before rolling out into pasta sheets. Cut to size. Cook in a salted rolling boil, but not too long or it will break apart (it takes some practice to get it right). Wide noodles are good with a vegan cream sauce. Vegan cream sauce? Yep, cashew cream. Another magical necessity to a vegan diet. Soak rinsed, whole, raw cashews (about a cups worth) in cold water for at least 24 hours, sift, then puree in a blender with water (as much water as it takes to get the consistency of cream). Super simple. It cooks/reduces like cream, and it's fatty so it makes a good cream sauce or creamy soup. Makes ice cream too. Now I'm rambling... :)

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