This is one of my favorite tofu preparations. I don't say recipe because there hardly is one. You'll forgive me, I know, you're used to that by now... Today I'll take you from Japan, to Mexico, to India and finally to France. All in one bowl of tofu!
This is warm and satisfying and vaguely Indian, as I prepare it. It comes from a recipe I had years ago from some hippie veg cookbook, if I had to guess I'd say Diet for a Small Planet or Laurel's Kitchen.
Here's the basic framework:
- Take firm tofu and slice it, press it between paper towels or clean dish towels to remove as much water as possible.
- Fry in annatto oil* with some minced or pressed garlic (those frozen cubes from TJ's work well.)
- Add turmeric if you like and/or if you don't have achiote oil.
- Leave the cubes to brown on each side, you're essentially building a little thin crust on each cube.
- Toward the end sprinkle on Nutritional yeast (adds big nutritional wallop to vegan diets supplying complex B vitamins and amino acids meat free diets can lack) and soy sauce to taste.
- I also added my Punjabi Garam Masala (made from Raghavan Iyer's 660 Curries) and cayenne. (I believe the original had oregano which seems a bit odd to me now...?)
What you end up with is savory, spicy, nutty and nutritious tofu.
You could add grated ginger, caramelized onions would be delicious, too. Throw in some peas. You can see this would be quite versatile. Next time, I think I'll start by popping mustard seeds in oil before frying together.
To Mexico and France
* Annatto oil is easily made at home. Achiote is another name for annatto which looks like this:
Mexico - Achiote or Annatto Seeds, Store the oil in a bottle in the fridge, use the oil whenever color as well as a warm, slightly nutty flavor is desired. Arroz Amarillo or "yellow rice" is made with achiote oil. Molé Coloradito is also made with achiote oil.
France & England - Annatto is used to color English Red Leicester cheese, some cheddars, and French Mimolette (impressed the heck out of the cheese guy today when I asked if this cheese - new to me - was colored with annatto!) Mimolette is made in Lille, France from cow's milk. It's said it was de Gaulle's favorite and goes back to earlier leaders who had it made in France to resemble Edam. (See also C&Z's broccoli and Mimolette soup.)
The shape color and pocked rind sometimes resemble a cantaloupe. The unsettling factoid I just learned researching this bit for you dear readers, is that the pock marked rind gets that way through the nibbling of cheese mites. They are brushed off before the cheese is packaged for human consumption, of course, but I kinda wish I didn't know...
Annatto is also used to color lipstick and other cosmetics as well as butter and margarine.
So there's half the world in a bowl of tofu. Bon appetit! Buon provecho! Someone's gotta help me out with an Indian version - Vah?
Speaking of Indian, do check out this great site VahRehVah.com with so many great Indian dishes prepared on instructional videos. The Chef has great enthusiasm and energy, it's really infectious to watch! If you'll excuse me now, I've got to go make pani puri...