Not Your Mama’s Bean Curd: Making Tofu That Even The Biggest Meat Lover Will Crave
Tofu has a lousy reputation. We associate it with 70′s health food (read: boring) and jiggly white blocks of flavorlessness.
But what that discounts is the fact that tofu is a super-healthy, lean form of protein that happens to be incredibly inexpensive. We’re talking around $2-$4 for enough tofu to feed 4 people.
It’s also versatile enough to be worked into just about any dish, freezes well, and is super shelf-stable if kept in airtight container in the refrigerator.
I know, I know. You think it’s gross. But bear with me, because with a few little tricks, it can be freaking delicious. In fact, it might just become your new favorite food. Or even—get this—your kids’ new favorite food.
Read on for 5 family-friendly tofu recipes that will make you the winner of dinner.
Crispy Tofu Triangles with Peanut Sauce: This classic Thai dish is typically made with tofu that has been deep-fried. But deep-frying is messy and unhealthy, so I’d rather not bother. To emulate the crisp crust of deep frying without the oil slick, I bake extra-firm, lightly salted tofu, cut into 2″ triangles in a 300 degree oven for about 12 minutes per side. Once the tofu is done baking, I give it a quick sear in a little canola or coconut oil, just to get it brown. Serve with homemade or store-bought peanut sauce, plus greens, brown or white rice and cooked broccoli for a grand-slam healthy dinner that will have everyone asking for seconds.
Sesame Crunch Tofu: The 2 best tricks for getting tofu really crunchy and flavorful are as follows: 1) dredge it lightly in flour or cornstarch and 2) let it get really brown in a little bit of oil in a frying pan. These tricks require 2 things: planning and patience. Really let the tofu cook — the brown color will translate to maximum flavor. For this recipe, I employ both tricks, dredging slices of soy-marinated tofu in a flour-sesame seed mixture, and then pan-frying in just a little bit of hot canola or coconut oil. The cooked tofu can be kept warm in a 200 degree oven, and needs little more than a side of greens or cooked vegetables and maybe some Asian chili sauce to make a complete meal.
Tofu Smoothies: Don’t freak out! I know it sounds weird, but silken tofu (which usually comes in a cardboard carton as opposed to a plastic container) makes for a creamy, rich smoothie base, that also happens to be lower in fat and calories and higher in protein than yogurt or kefir. Simply puree it up with a bit of water to make a thick base and blend in your favorite frozen fruits and/or greens and a touch of honey if you are so inspired, for a healthy, filling snack or meal replacement.
Eggless Egg Salad: As a kid, my mom used to pack this in my lunch with crackers and carrot sticks for dipping. The other kids teased me for my strange snack, but they didn’t know what they were missing! I still make it today and top lightly dressed greens with a scoop of it, or sandwich it between 2 slices of wheat toast or a pita pocket. To make, I crumble firm or extra-firm tofu until it resembles feta. Then I stir in ½ teaspoon of turmeric to give it a bright yellow color, plus minced red onion, fresh chopped dill and pickles or relish, if I have any on hand and a tablespoon or two of mayonnaise or vegan mayonnaise. Other great add-ins include curry powder, chives, diced tomato, avocado and chopped cilantro.
Chocolate Pudding: Yes, you read that right! The richest, creamiest chocolate pudding can be made at your fingertips without any dairy or eggs—and without much effort. Simply melt 2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips and puree in a blender or food processor with 1 12-oz container of silken tofu until completely blended and smooth. Then refrigerate for at least 2 hours (up to 6) and serve.
Gabi Moskowitz is the editor-in-chief of the nationally-acclaimed blog BrokeAss Gourmet and author of The BrokeAss Gourmet Cookbook (May 2012) and Pizza Dough: 100 Delicious, Unexpected Recipes (November 2013). Most recently, she developed “Young and Hungry”, an ABC Family sitcom based on her life and writing. It premiers this summer (2014).