Monday, July 27, 2009

Digging a Hole to China

Evan’s in China! Sorry I didn’t tell you sooner, but as you can see, I’m a little behind (considering I posted the Bastille Day Feast a full week after Bastille Day). Anyway, he’s there on a ‘business trip’ (I’m putting that in quotes, since so far all I’ve heard about is him teaching the Chinese people how to play beer pong, and the amazing food he’s been eating). Evan works for Tonkin Replicas, a replica truck company (not Tonka Trucks...completely different), and he’s visiting the factory and the employees in China! Crazy! I wish I was there with him. Of course, I miss him like crazy… but I can’t wait to hear about his adventures (especially those involving food). I told him he’ll have to recreate his meals for me. He laughed. So did I. Below are a couple of pictures he sent me! The Hong Kong harbor:

A steamed fish dish called Yu:

Anyway, back to the states...the other night, while I was sitting at home missing him, unable to call, I channeled my inner Asia and made the best-damned-tofu-ever. I don’t think what I made could really qualify as Chinese (the dish's inspiration is actually a Japanese recipe), but it was Asian-fusion… at least that’s what we’ll call it.

I love tofu, but whenever I prepare it at home, it just isn’t the same. I’m a little bit afraid of deep frying (the process and the resulting calories are both pretty scary), and as far as I could tell, that’s the only way to prepare kick-ass tofu. I always want to throw it into stir-fries and the like, but whenever I sauté or fry it, I’m disappointed. Until now! Thanks to Gourmet!

A few issues ago there was a recipe for Miso Glazed Tofu…BROILED! Ah! Why didn’t I think of that!? I didn’t have any miso on hand, so instead I made a glaze of hoison, soy sauce, sesame oil, rice vinegar, and green curry paste (see, that’s where the Asian Fusion part comes in). The recipe said to make sure the glaze was ‘the consistency of ketchup,’ so I made sure my on-the-fly glaze was just that. I followed the steps in the recipe for draining and firming up the tofu, and then double broiled it- once unglazed, once glazed, and the results were amazing! The tofu squares were chewy and gooey on the outside, soft on the inside. Exactly what I was looking for. I served them atop a quick prep dish of peanut green beans: sautéed onions and garlic, frozen green beans, sesame oil, a drop of sriracha, and a spoonful of peanut butter, topped with toasted sesame seeds.
I’m sure it’s nothing like what Evan’s eating over there in China (yu), but it did make me feel a little bit better… and I finally know how to cook tofu! When Evan gets back, we'll do tofu and yu for two. Until then…

Miso Glazed Broiled Tofu
(From Gourmet magazine)

This recipe calls for a miso glaze, but I just made up my own hoison glaze. I think whatever you do will work just fine, as long as it tastes good and has the consistency of ketchup! It also recommends skewering the tasty morsels and serving as appetizers.

1 (14-to 16-ounces) block firm tofu, drained
1/3 cup red (dark) miso
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons sake, dry Sherry, or dry white wine
1 teaspoon sesame seeds, toasted
Equipment: 12 two-pronged wooden picks or 24 (2 1/2-to 31/2-inch) straight wooden picks

Pat tofu dry with paper towels, then wrap in fresh paper towels and put in a microwave-safe dish (see cooks' note, below). Microwave at high power 30 seconds. Pour off any liquid and wrap tofu in fresh paper towels. Microwave 1 or 2 more times for 30 seconds each time, pouring off any liquid, until tofu feels firmer.

Preheat broiler.

Stir together miso, sugar, and sake in a small saucepan. (If miso mixture is very thick, stir in 1 tablespoon water.) Cook over medium-high heat, stirring, until bubbling, glossy, and the consistency of ketchup, 1 to 3 minutes.

Cut tofu in half horizontally and arrange, cut sides up, on a cutting board. Cut each half into 6 squares (pieces might not be perfectly square).

Arrange tofu on a foil-lined broiler pan, cut sides up, and broil about 2 inches from heat until a crust just forms, 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from oven and spread crusted side of each square with about 3/4 teaspoon miso mixture. Broil until tops are just bubbling and starting to color, 1 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Skewer each square with 1 two-pronged pick or 2 parallel straight picks. Sprinkle with seeds.
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