Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Alas, only human: Spicy Thai Tofu Salad

Hey there.  I have to write something.  I feel like writing and I've fallen way behind on posting.  The trouble is, just about everything I've cooked in the last two weeks is either a tried and true (and previously posted) favorite or something new that needs tweaking before posting.  The tweaking ones are kind of getting to me.  I'm just a little out of sync with finding recipes and adding the ingredients to my shopping list on my phone and actually getting to all the right stores to buy what I need or maybe thinking I have something in my fridges, freezer or pantries (notice all the plurals there:  indicating abundance and not real problems) and being wrong.  Got to get on my game.  It's going to happen, just not in a timely manner to write about big successes and amazing new things.  So there you have it, even a food blogger can have a bit of a slump.  Hope that makes you feel better.

I've baked twice this week after realizing I was out of butter (how is that possible?  I buy the 4 pound package of unsalted Land O Lakes at Costco, but apparently not recently) and was kind of meh on both of those recipes.  Blueberry oatmeal bread was one of those things where I swore I had everything (does not use butter, but lesson learned that whole flax is not a good substitute for wheat germ) but did not.  The oatmeal snickerdoodles did not call for chilling the dough, but clearly needed it and I did not have the time so they became bars and still need some adjustments.  See?  Fail whale in my kitchen.

Today for lunch I had a toasted peanut butter and jelly sandwich at 10:00 am because I was so hungry after spinning and headed to lulu to work at 10:30.  Yesterday for lunch I made my very favorite avocado toasts and fixed two complete dishes to have in the fridge for Sara to eat since I was closing and wouldn't be home for dinner. The farro "risotto" with peas and asparagus was pretty yummy, but needs more garlic, or more cheese or more perfectly cooked peas.  I'm not sure, but something was missing.  The spicy Thai tofu salad was much more successful so it's a first try keeper and I'll make a few adjustments for your enjoyment.  One day cooking up a storm and the next it's pb&j (which I really love).  And so now you know what should be very obvious by the inconsistency of my posting this past year, I'm really quite human.  I'm a good cook and a respectable baker, I can take decent pictures but now need reading glasses to do it and I can write like I enjoy it.   But somedays, I struggle just like the next guy.

This dish is good warm or cold (if you like tofu).  Use what vegetables suit you, but this is a pretty classic combination.  Remember to leave 20-30 minutes to press the liquid out of your tofu before marinating it for another 20-30 minutes.  Marinating tofu will convert you if you think you don't like tofu.  Yummy.


Spicy Thai Tofu Salad

dressing/marinade

4 thinly sliced scallions, white and the tender green parts
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 C tamari or low sodium soy sauce
1/2 C seasoned rice or sushi vinegar
2 T light brown sugar
1 T lime juice
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes

salad

1 15-ounce package extra firm tofu, drained, pressed and cut into cubes or slices
4 oz. whole grain thin spaghetti/angel hair pasta/soba noodles, prepared as directed on package
1 T toasted sesame oil
2 carrots, peeled into ribbons
1 cucumber, halved and thinly sliced
1/4 C chopped fresh basil leaves
1 C fresh bean sprouts, rinsed and drained
optional garnishes: chopped peanuts, mint leaves, sliced scallions

Drain tofu and slice horizontally.  Arrange slices on a towel lined cutting board or baking sheet.  Cover with more towels (tea towels or paper towels).  Place heavy pan on top for 20-30 minutes to squeeze out excess liquid.

Whisk together all dressing/marinade ingredients in a small bowl.  Cut pressed tofu slices into smaller pieces if desired and place in a ziplock bag or dish with half of the dressing/marinade.  Toss to coat and marinate for 20-30 minutes.  Reserve the other half of the dressing/marinade for the salad.

Prepare your noodles and drain.  Toss with a little cool water in your colander to keep them from sticking together.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Add tofu and cook until browned, about 4 minutes per side.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Toss noodles, tofu, carrots, cucumber, bean sprouts and basil together with reserved dressing in a large serving bowl or layer the salad in individual bowls and pour over the reserved dressing.  Top with garnishes as desired.

Can be served warm, room temperature or cold.

Serves 4

tofu after one flip

my salad (note that I don't mind things in big pieces,
but feel free to slice cucumbers thinner and cube your tofu)




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