Sesame Ginger Tofu with Greens - june 3, 2010

This is another old favorite from Deborah Madison that my husband and I have been making for years. We've tried many variations of the sauce, and often I'll make it without marinating the tofu ahead of time, simply because I don't get around to mixing it up before I need to cook dinner. Even then it is delicious. Often it serves as an end of the week produce clean up, just about any vegetable can go in, clearing out the fridge for our incoming Eatwell box. I've made it with pretty much every sort of green we've had - stir fry mix, spinach, chard, kale, mustard (one of my favorites, with a simplified marinade). It is good with turnips, broccoli, cauliflower, always snap peas if we have them and sometimes carrots, though I can usually find a better use for those.

Today it was a few snaggly stir fry greens I found hiding in the crisper, a bunch of chard, a bunch of spinach and one gigantic bokchoi. It never ceases to amaze me how much the greens shrink down when cooked - all that plus a brick of tofu and two cups of rice made dinner for four. Really more like two, since the kids only ate rice and a few pieces of tofu each.

The secret to this one is getting the tofu to caramelize a bit, then it is really good. Its sweet and gingery, with a touch of salty soy sauce to round things out. I can't figure out why our kids won't eat it, but I suspect they just have something against umami. Maybe that alleged fifth taste is really something one needs to grow into.

Sesame Ginger Tofu with Greens: (adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone)

Greens - at least one, maybe two bunches, plus any other veggies you might like stir-fried. Carrots, turnips, snap peas, broccoli are all good.

firm tofu - 1 big block 

2 cups jasmine rice (or more if you'd like)

2 Tablespoons peanut or canola oil

3 large garlic cloves (or one small head green garlic), minced or put through a press

3 teaspoons finely chopped ginger

1/4 teaspoons red pepper flakes

2 Tablespoons dark sesame oil

4 Tablespoons sesame oil

8 teaspoons brown sugar

6 Tablespoons soy sauce

Early in the day, make the marinade by mixing together the garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, dark and regular sesame oils, brown sugar and soy sauce. Stir until all the sugar is mixed in, then cut the tofu into slices, put it in a bowl and pour the marinade over the top. Put it in the fridge until you are ready to cook dinner, and if you get a chance, rotate the tofu around once or twice during the day. If you can't manage to marinate the tofu ahead of time, just toss it in the sauce quickly before cooking.

Begin the cooking process by starting up your rice cooker. If you don't have one, just cook the rice however you like to do it.

Preheat the oven to 200°, so that you can keep the tofu warm while you cook the veggies.

Wash and spin dry the greens and any other vegetables you are using. 

Heat the peanut oil in the bottom of a wok over medium high heat. I have a cast iron one that I really love - it holds the heat nicely and is huge enough to fit two bunches of greens and various other things. It also comes with a lid that is handy for steaming and works well on my stove, which I'm told traditional woks don't always do. When the oil is hot (you can tell by tossing in a piece of garlic or onion and waiting for it to begin to sizzle), add the tofu to the wok piece by piece, letting the marinade drain back into the bowl. Reserve the marinade. Spread the tofu one piece deep, let it cook for a few minutes until you can flip a piece over and see that it has turned golden brown, then flip the tofu to another side and repeat the process. You can do this again, for a third browning, if you want.

When the tofu is browned to your liking, remove it from the pan onto a plate and put it in the oven to keep warm.  Toss in any vegetables you have that need to cook longer than the greens (broccoli, carrots, turnips, but not snap peas), stir them around with a spatula or wooden spoon. When they are close to done (broccoli will be bright green, anything else you can taste for doneness) add the greens and stir them around too. Cover the wok for just a minute or so if you want your greens more tender. When the greens are done to your liking, scoop them out of wok onto a plate or bowl and into the oven. 

Now turn the heat off and pour the reserved marinade into the wok. Give it a quick stir and let it sit there while you dump the tofu onto the greens plate and serve the rice. Pour the rest of the marinade on top of the greens and tofu, and serve right away.


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June 11, 2010

Artichokes. Hrm. I don't usually eat them, because I'm sure it takes more energy to scrape the flesh off the leaves than the calories those scrapings provide. So whats the point?

But I'll see if I can find some when I shop next week - there weren't any in the produce box today.


Can I just start eating dinner at your house? Everything looks so good!

And what is the deal with preparing artichokes properly. Mine looked amazing, but still were a total mess to eat. Is there no way to get those leaves tender enough that you aren't teeting them like fiber-rich Fritos?


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