Wed 11 Apr, 2007 02:14 pm
So I've been cooking Actual Meals every night for a while now. That's going well, but they often -- not always, but TOO often -- are based on some sort of meat. Chicken breasts, pork chops, whatever.

I'm not a vegetarian but when we were doing more ad-hoc meals we'd have a lot less meat, and I want to continue with the Actual Meals but introduce more tofu/ non-meat elements.

I've never cooked with tofu. Shocked E.G. was a vegetarian for years and is pretty good with the stuff, so when we have it he tends to cook it, but I want to cook tonight.

Any suggestions, both in terms of recipes and techniques?

Here's what I have to work with: 14 oz of Nasoya Extra Firm Tofu.

I'd prefer to just use that and stuff I already have in the house -- garlic, soy sauce, whatever -- but will consider a trip to the store for more exotic items.

E.G.'s allergic to mushrooms and other types of fungus. Sozlet doesn't like stuff to be too spicy. Other than than most anything goes.

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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 02:21 pm
I don't have a particular recipe but...

Toss it in with a stir fry or almost anything. Tofu tends to take on the taste of whatever you cook it with.

You can also add to salads. I prefer my tofu fried (not deep fried), but lightly fried with spice.
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 02:37 pm
I still like (a variant of) the recipe Kissthecook gave me back on LAA.

1 regular pepper
1 chillie pepper
1 Onion -- on the biggish side of the onion size distibution
1-2 carrots
3 tablespoons of soy auce,
3 tablespoons of Hoisin sauce
3 tablespoons of rice vinegar, though any kind of vinegar works too.
1 tablespoon of corn starch
a few tablespoons of oil (I like sunflower)
half a pound of Tofu

I don't look at the watch, but the sequence of the cooking goes something like this.

* Peel carrots, cut them into stick-friendly pieces, put them into a pot of water with a bit of salt, cook them.

* Put oil into frying pan, chop tofu into cubes of about one cubic inch, start frying tofu in pan.

* Chop vegetables into stick friendly pieces. Chop chillie peppers into even smaller pieces. Don't forget to take the seeds out first.

* Start preparing sauce, consisting of Soy Sauce, Hoisin Sauce, vinegar and corn starch. (In practice, I first dissolve the corn starch in the vinegar, then add the other two ingredients.) Add an equal volume of water. (I usually take it from the boiling carrots, which I take off the stove about now.)

* The tofu should be golden brown by now. Add all the other chopped vegetables, including the carrots, and fry them for a couple of minutes.

* Add the sauce and fry some more. Rasp ginger and add about 3 minutes before serving.

Together with some rice, this should be a decent meal for three people. (It's two meals for me, and I eat it without rice because of my diabetes.)
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 02:55 pm
my contribution does not relate to tofu - mrs h has hardly ever used it - but other meat-less meals .
while we usually have fish two or even three times a week , i usually ask for a meat/fish-less meal at least every other week .

- rice and raisins with egg and milk in a casserole dish , to finish sprinkle with cinnamon , add some fresh or preserved fruit on the side and - my favourite - top it with hot , brown butter !

- mrs h usually has several containers of soup in the freezer - usually meatless ; adding some matzo balls or potatoe dumplings always makes a nice and quick meal , particularly when we come back from the beach hungry ,

- WAFFELS (pecan waffels for me Very Happy !)

- when fresh aspargus is available at a local farm , i like aspargus and new potatoes with brown butter and scrambled eggs - or fresh , local cauliflower instead of aspargus .

hbg(waiting for LOCAL aspargus - likely the end of may !)
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 03:02 pm
Just noticed the bit about Sozlet not liking her food too spicey. You can safely leave away the chilli peppers.
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 03:15 pm
tofu croquette
Yup...been cooking with tofu for more than a decade. Everyone I've made this recipe for has liked it and even non-tofu lovers.

The easiest cooking rule I tend follow here is use the firm or extra firm to cook with. When a recipe calls for using uncooked tofu (like in salads), use the silken. Right texture is what it's all about. However, the Japanese cook with silken textured tofu..and add it to that is personal taste issue.

How I make tofu croquettes:

Press out all the water from firm or extra-firm tofu (with a plate or something flat) then dry it off on a paper towel. Many people let the water press out slowly over night with a weighted plate over it.

Dry and cut up, mash up the tofu ( I use 1 lb..serving 2-4 people)
*(See optional step)

Mix in a bowl add approx 3-4 tbsp sesame butter (Tahini).

Add Tamari (similar to ...but thicker than SOY SAUCE (small amount of wheat), tamari is also a richer tasting, dark sauce made from SOYBEANS). Use maybe about 2 tbsp.

Spice it however you like (minced garlic works great). Often I add celery salt, onion powder...garlic powder.

*Optional step: If you have trouble with getting a golden brown or crusty texture and color...cut tofu in cubes ..horizontally and vertically and add it mixed up with spices to hot oil as follows:

Add 2 tbs oil to pan and preheat to medium temp. (prefer gas heat). Heat up a skillet (I use a cast iron), using canola, safflower, sunflower, or corn oil. I've used olive oil too, but the other oils are preferred. Set a medium fire/heat is that oil doesn't smoke but pan is sizzling hot to a drop of water.

(Optional ingredient)
As an option, dice up and saute onions..and/or red/orange/yellow..but NOT green sweet peppers). Sauté onion and sweet peppers, garlic and herbs in olive oil until onions are translucent. Put aside 'til end.

Spread out the tofu evenly so it's flat and heat 'til it gets a golden crust about 5-10 mins. This may take a few tries to get a crust to form...but go for a golden brown. In the pan I sometimes divide up the croquette into quarters so that the heat can escape. Flip over and let it brown the other side...for another 5 mins. *see optional previous step

Add onions (optional), mix together, and allow to heat up for another 3-5 minutes.

Put this over a bed of brown rice.

I like a few diff tofu recipes ...this one is the easiest one I know of. Here are another 2 tofu recipes:
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 03:58 pm
I like both Thomas' and Ragman's tofu recipes. When I use it, I cook the tofu, pressed and cubed, in oil until somewhat brown and crispy on all sides, mixing with it whatever I have around... usually garlic(sometimes already roasted), chili pepper (with the seeds!), chopped scallions, whatever is fresh in my veggie drawers that could conceivably work (zucchini slices, sweet pepper slices, snow peas), possibly pre sauteed chopped onion, some soy sauce.

Since I've recently, mmmm, the last year or so, gotten into a routine of roasting a lot of vegetables - chopped or sliced lengthwise - in a bit of olive oil and refrigerating, using them in soups and such... I sometimes have those as a last minute add on to a tofu dish.
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 03:59 pm

i will be back later tonight to give some of my quick, non spicy recipies
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 04:25 pm
Ragman, I'm going to try your way of cooking tonight...

I'm off to press my tofu...
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 04:26 pm
Cool. Let me (all of us) know how it turns out. It's my fave
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 04:59 pm
Will be back later. Tofu can be made instead of chicken in a pasta sauce, for starters.
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 05:04 pm
And..... aside from tofu, which I know is the main interest of the thread, there are zillions of pasta sauces without meat. Hmmm, maybe a thread on that..
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 06:22 pm
That'd be cool, osso.

Pasta is one of the things I'm most adept at making when I'm in a more vegetarian mood. (I love pesto, for example.)

So, good news and bad news about tonight's meal. Good news: I have long struggled with recipeitis. That is, I Must Follow The Recipe and I get antsy if I have to improvise. I've been trying to get away from that. I ended up being in a huge rush to make this and I was totally random. Didn't follow any recipe. Did a little of this and a little of that.

Bad news: It sucked. Laughing E.G. had three helpings and proclaimed it good ("don't make it again... but it's good!") but sozlet and I weren't very happy with it. My cardinal sin was (I can't believe it) I was rushing and sozlet needed something and I grabbed the soy sauce and started splurshing it on and thought it looked a little odd and then (ack) realized it was (urk) Worcestershire Sauce. Ahem.

It wasn't very much but it really didn't help.

I had some Thai peanut sauce on hand that elevated everything, that at least made it edible.

Next time I'll follow a recipe! (Thanks for yours, Thomas and Ragman, they both look good.)

Once I have the recipe down I'll branch out a bit...
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 07:07 pm
<giggle> Worcestershire sauce! <giggle>

I eat a lot of tofu, but I don't usually cook with it. I tend to get my tofu at restaurants (chinese, japanese, vegetarian).

I have been known to make a decent chocolate cream pie using tofu - vegan.

You can also make a tofu scramble which is easy and tasty. Unfortunately, I am not good with detailed recipes and it sounds like you desire them. Get the silken (not firm) tofu, mash it up, marinade with spices of your liking, sautee with bell peppers, mushrooms, vegi-sausage, whatever you'd like - makes a semi-scrambled eggs type of dish. With tofu, it's important to use plenty of flavor.
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 07:14 pm
I look forward to see any feedback on someone who tried my recipe tofu croquette.
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 07:42 pm
I think I posted this before but its worth mentioning again
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 08:13 pm
Ragman, it was really good, but it came out more like what littlek was saying...scrambled eggs.

I'll definately do it again.
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Wed 11 Apr, 2007 08:56 pm

Four things you can try...

1. add about 1 tbsp more sesame butter (makes it stick together better)

2. Press out and drain the tofu for longer time.

3. after you flatten and evenly spread out the croquette shape in the pan, leave it one side longer to get a crust.

4. Call me over and I'll cook it for you! Laughing

Hope this helps
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Thu 12 Apr, 2007 04:07 am
There is definitely a textural issue. I pretty much only cook with the firm or super-firm stuff.

One thing you may find after you've followed a bunch of recipes is, one day you just don't have something. So you take whatever is nearest and you improvise (and, actually, Worcestershire for soy sauce isn't a horrible substitution). When you have some successes doing that, at least I found I wanted to do it more. Now, I have recipes in order to be inspired or for baking, where the chemical reactions require a lot more precision. But I pretty much never follow a recipe just to make dinner, not any more (no time during the week).

One idea is tofu on pizza. If you buy a premade pizza shell (Boboli or the like) or make the dough from scratch, the surface, of course, is yours to do with whatever you want. In this case, you'd want much smaller pieces, the idea is to simulate ground beef so grab a knife and smash away at the tofu. Fry lightly in oil with a little garlic. Add to pizza with tomato sauce and sliced mushrooms and bake per package instructions (or per recipe if you made the shell from scratch).

One thing -- umami -- can't recall if you know about this. Umami is essentially mouth appeal and richness. Kinda hard to explain but the concept is that there are some foods with a kind of built-in richness so they taste amazing. It's not salty, sweet, bitter or sour. It's a different taste. Beef has it. And, really, Worcestershire sauce has it. And so do mushrooms. So you can really up the umami quotient by adding mushrooms, particularly other than the white kind, you can mix a few different types together.

Here's some more info on umami.
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Thu 12 Apr, 2007 08:00 am
Great thread, Sozobe. Making notes as I'm reading along - for my primarily vegetarian household.

M loves tofu in general, and tofu & potatoes cooked together specially. I generally cube into about 1" squares the extra-firm tofu. Chop some potatoes into a similar size. And shallow fry them until the tofu is crispy and the potatoes are browned & cooked through. (In her pea phases, I add some frozen peas.) Next I put some Indian spices (you can use whichever spices you like - I think anything works with tofu & potatoes) - dried cumin powder, touch of red chilli powder, and some dried mango powder. Little salt. Ready to go. The spices coat the tofu & potatoes nicely. It's actually a little spicy, but M loves it.
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