04 March 2010

Tofu in Peanut Sauce

At the ranch with my folks this weekend, I decided it was my turn to make dinner. Too lazy to drive to the store, I opted instead for the challenge of making do with what they had on hand already. A bit of scrounging about led to this list of potential ingredients: one carton of firm tofu (what everyone on a ranch in Texas has in their fridge, right?), some brown rice, and one freshly harvested head of green cabbage (i've never felt more like a murderer than when retrieving this from the garden--it was so precious and alive and then whack! I am ruthless when it comes to food, apparently). The trick was to figure out how to turn this bounty of healthful grub into something I actually might be excited to eat.

Oh, and just to make things even trickier, I discovered that my parents' gas cooktop was mysteriously out of juice. Improvising, I stuck the rice in an electric rice cooker, prepared the cabbage for a quick steam in the microwave, and then attacked the tofu. Using a Deborah Madison recipe as a guide, I decided to press the water out of the tofu, bake it until crisp, and then slather it in a sweet and spicy peanut sauce (in my opinion, pretty much anything is better with peanut sauce). As they say, necessity is the mother of invention...in this case, a very tasty, easy, and quick-to-make invention at that!

Tofu in Sweet and Spicy Peanut Sauce
adapted from Deborah Madison's
This Can't Be Tofu!
serves 4-5
1 carton firm tofu, drained and pressed (I'm impatient when it comes to pressing the water out of tofu but it's worth the trouble--helps it crisp when baked)

1/4 cup soy sauce

1/4 cup peanut butter (could also try tahini, almond, or cashew buter)
2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar (can use white, or maybe honey or agave)
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes or hot chili oil

2 scallions, chopped (I didn't have--used a small amount of regular onion)

1/3 cup water or stock

Preheat oven to 375 (350 if you have a convection oven)
Slice drained tofu into 1/4 inch slabs and place on cookie sheet coated with baking spray (or a little canola or other cooking oil). Bake for 15 minutes, flip each piece of tofu over, and bake for another 15 or until crispy and browned but not burned.

Meanwhile combine all the ingredients for the sauce in a food processor (I used a hand-held blender) and puree until smooth. When the tofu is finished, place it in one layer in a small casserole or baking dish and pour the sauce over it. Return to oven at 350 and bake for about 5-10 minutes until the sauce is reduced and slightly thickened. Remove from oven, garnish with cilantro, scallion, sesame seeds, etc. to taste, and serve!


laurel said...

This looks delicious, Nisa! I'm always looking for a way to spice up my tofu! Kudos for reviving the blog! love you!

Ciel said...

Nisa, I made this a little over a week ago for dinner with quinoa and steamed chard from the garden. Its was super delicious and Jonah loved it! Definitely a keeper. I want to get that tofu cook book! I'm trying to make at least two new recipes a week so will be posting some of the successes soon.