Thursday, June 07, 2007

Laura eats tofu ... and enjoys it!

The truth is, that although my mom was a vegetarian for 10 years, and though she made tofu during that time, the stuff never passed my lips. But now I am a grown-up, and I try foods I used to despise or ignore, and I even like some of them now, like celery! A few Wednesdays ago found me prepared to try tofu. But first, I needed a little preparation. Hence the Riesling!

Cleverly we all used differently-shaped glasses in order to be able to distinguish one from the other.

Meg squeezed the excess water out of the tofu by placing it between plates and balancing various bottles on top of the plates (precariously) to provide a weight. The result is shown below - and I got to cube it! Somehow it was quite enjoyable to drag a knife through it – it was very tactile and squishy. It was medium-firmness tofu. Here is what Wiki has to say on some of the varieties of tofu (I had to do some research, as I'm a tofu novice!):

"Depending on the amount of water that is extracted from the tofu curds, fresh tofu can be divided into three main varieties.

Soft/silken tofu(嫩豆腐 or 滑豆腐, nèn dòufǔ or huá dòufǔ, in Chinese, lit. "soft tofu" or "smooth tofu"; 絹漉し豆腐, kinugoshi tōfu in Japanese, lit. "silk-filtered tofu"; 순두부, sundubu in Korean, lit. "mild tofu"):

This undrained tofu contains the highest moisture content of all fresh tofus. Its texture can be described as similar to that of very fine custard. In Korea and Japan, traditional soft tofu is made with seawater. Douhua (豆花, dòu huā or 豆腐花, dòufǔ huā in Chinese), or tofu brain (豆腐腦 or 豆腐脑, dòufǔ naǒ in Chinese), often eaten as a dessert, but sometimes with salty pickles or hot sauce added instead, is another type of soft tofu with an even higher moisture content. Because it is nearly impossible to pick up this type of tofu with chopsticks, it is generally eaten with a spoon. Edamame tofu is a Japanese variety of kinugoshi tōfu made from edamame (fresh green soybeans); it is pale green in color and often studded with whole edamame.

Asian firm tofu (simply called 豆腐 dòufǔ in Chinese; 木綿豆腐, momendōfu in Japanese, lit. "cotton tofu"):

Although drained and pressed, this form of fresh tofu still contains a great amount of moisture. It has the firmness of raw meat but bounces back readily when pressed. The texture of the inside of the tofu is similar to that of a firm custard. The skin of this form of tofu has the pattern of the muslin used to drain it and is slightly more resilient to damage than its inside. Can be picked up easily with chopsticks.

Western firm/dried tofu (豆乾, dòu gān in Chinese, lit. "dry tofu"):

An extra firm variety of tofu with the least amount of moisture of all fresh tofus. It has the firmness of fully cooked meat and a somewhat rubbery feel similar to paneer. When sliced thinly, this tofu can be crumbled easily. The skin of this form of tofu has the pattern of the muslin used to drain and press it. Western firm tofu is milled and reformed after the pressing and sometimes lacks the skin with its cloth patterning. Fresh tofu is usually sold completely immersed in water to maintain its moisture content."

Sadly, I can't remember if our tofu came in water or not. I'll have to go and buy some and try cooking tofu all on my own. I never thought the day would come. But that's the persuasive power of the Rebar cookbook. Here's our tofu once cubed:

We seasoned the tofu, and then - ate some of it raw like a tofu tartare! (Clearly I haven't had much experience with tofu!) It wasn't bad raw, and I didn't mind its texture.

But it was better after cooking.

The tofu was cooked after Rebar's sesame tofu recipe - for recipe see Meg's previous entry on her search for noodle box substitutes.

We made a tamarind sauce for the stirfry which clearly involved some straining:

The stirfry also called for roma tomatoes, which we quartered,

and scallions (spring onions or scallions, everyone?)

and some chopped ginger made an appearance, as it often does at We Dine:

As did some cabbage whose name I've forgotten (but which will appear in the recipe that Meg will hopefully post so I'll be enlightened again - obviously I need to write these entries sooner so my memory doesn't suffer!)

Michelle arrived a little late from work and received her own glass of wine, and joined in the cooking,

and Alisha made a cucumber salad

And the finished stirfry was eaten with chopsticks and accompanied by the final episode of America's Next Top Model. What a lovely plate it was.

And it was followed by an equally-lovely plate of mango, strawberries and mint. And my astonishment that Natasha didn't win! Good thing I hadn't made any bets on it...


moyrad said...

I never liked tofu before this flavour and texture combo. I always found tofu too liquidy or too tough. I think medium and baked this way is the perfect preparation. Lovely pictures, company, wine and food.

Meg said...

I know what you mean Laura – I love cutting tofu too! It just feels so cool. This one was packed in water, which is why I did the pressing thing with the precariously balanced bottles atop plates. Thanks for all the tofu trivia – your posts are always educational! I'm dying to try that edamame tofu – can we go on a mission to find it sometime soon? Maybe T&T?

Beautiful photo of the finished dish. Yumm!