A lot of people are turned off by tofu. And I don't blame them. I mean, if your first nibble of tofu is this bland, soft stuff; I can see why you'd associate it with the taste of pure nothingness. But the thing is, tofu shouldn't really taste like nothing in dishes. In fact, once you learn the different ways to work with it properly, you'll find that it's pretty amazing.
This weeks' recipes focus on using items I already had in my apartment and also making an inexpensive and easy meal that's flavorful, fresh and healthy. I know plenty of people can get behind quick, cheap and healthy meals.
The first recipe I'm posting for the week is a veganized version of Pops' Singapore Noodles by Ming Tsai. This is where the tofu comes in and if you've had bad luck with preparing tofu in the past, here is where you'll finally get it right because the tofu prep in this recipe is simple and failsafe. All you need to do is drain the water from the package, remove the tofu, slice it into 1/2-inch-thick rectangles, spread the tofu slices out on a folded dish towel, top with another folded dish towel and place a heavy pan on top. Let the tofu sit for 20 minutes and it will be dry enough to marinate.
Some changes I've made (other than the obvious switch to tofu): I've used sake in the marinade in place of white wine, omitted the egg, and while cooking I've added 1 - 2 tablespoons of vegetable broth to the noodles with the curry powder to remedy dryness.
Note: This recipe makes a lot — cutting it to 1/4 of the quantities listed will serve 2 - 3 people.
SINGAPORE MEI FUN WITH SAKE-SHOYU MARINATED TOFU
1 pound thin rice noodles, soaked in cold water for 2 hours, and drained
1 pound extra firm tofu in water, drained and pressed to remove all of the moisture and cubed or cut into small strips
1/4 cup sake
2 tablespoons shoyu plus 1 more tablespoon for cooking
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
Safflower oil, to cook
1 tablespoon minced ginger
1/2 cup scallions batons, cut to 1-inch lengths
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/2 pound mung bean sprouts
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 onion, julienned
2 tablespoons Madras curry powder
Salt and white pepper to taste
To stir fry: Marinate tofu in shoyu, sake, cornstarch and white pepper for 20 minutes. In a hot wok coated well with oil, stir fry ginger, scallions and garlic. Add marinated tofu to oil and stir fry quickly for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Remove tofu and set aside. Use same oil to stir fry bean sprouts, peppers and onions. Season with salt and white pepper and cook for 1 minute and set aside. Wipe out wok and coat well with oil. When oil is smoking hot, add 1 teaspoon shoyu and add rice noodles to the wok. Add vegetable broth, and stir and fold noodles. Continue to stir to avoid noodles from sticking to the pan. Add curry powder, stir and toss noodles to coat, and check for seasoning. When noodles are steaming hot, add back tofu and vegetables to the noodles and continue to mix and stir or toss until everything is steaming hot.
To serve: Serve family style on a large platter.