Saturday, January 15, 2011

Terrified of Tofu?

Terrified of Tofu? -Cajun Blackened Tofu
     Are you scared of tofu? Do you cringe when you see a block of the watery, flavorless protein? Have you had a bad experience with soggy, spongy, weird tofu? I have. When people don't know how to prepare tofu, it can be a terrible experience. I used to be convinced that it was nasty stuff not to be trusted. Be scared no more! I know the way to make tofu that is delicious, flavorful, and with a great firm texture.
     The key is PRESSING the tofu! Just wrap some tofu in a clean dish cloth, or a bunch of paper towels, then put it on a plate and place a HEAVY pan (cast iron is what I use) on top, and let it sit at least 20 minutes. With all of that water seeped out, you end up with tofu that is just aching to absorb your favorite flavors. My boyfriend is pretty obsessed with any food with the word "cajun" preceding it. Cajun wings, cajun fries, cajun..... you get the picture. So when I saw this recipe in Appetite for Reduction by Isa Moskowitz, I knew it would be a winner in our house. I was right. Served with my Mom's Mac and Cheese, and some Lemony Steamed Broccoli, my dinner was bangin', and not the least bit terrifying!

Ok, ok, if you really can't stand the idea of eating tofu (scardy cat), I'm sure this rub would taste awesome on some boneless skinless chicken breast....

Cajun Blackened Tofu

Spice Blend:
2 1/2 Teaspoons sweet smoked paprika
2 Teaspoons ground cumin
1 Teaspoon dried oregano
1 Teaspoon dried thyme
1 Teaspoon sugar
1/4 Teaspoon salt
1/4 Teaspoon cayenne
Several pinches freshly ground black pepper
3 Cloves garlic, minced

Everything else:
1 Block Extra-Firm Tofu, pressed, and sliced into eighths
2 Teaspoons olive oil
1 Teaspoon soy sauce
Cooking Spray

     On a dinner plate, mix together the spice blend and set aside.
     Adjust the broiler so that the baking sheet will be around 6 inches away from the heat. Preheat the oven to broil. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray. Poke each slice of tofu with a fork three or four times, to let the flavors seep in.
     Drizzle the olive oil and soy sauce on the far side of the baking sheet, in a puddle. You'll be laying the tofu onto the sheet, so just make the "puddle" area off to one side. Dip each slice lightly into the sauce mixture, enough to lightly coat each side. Then dredge in the spice mixture, pressing firmly to make sure the spices will stick. Place the tofu on the baking sheet in a single layer. Spray the tops with a little cooking spray.
     Place the tofu in the broiler and broil for about 12 minutes, flipping half way through. Keep a close eye on it; broilers vary from oven to oven, and you don't want the tofu to burn! The tofu is done when it looks dark and black in some spots. You can slice it into diagonal strips for a nice presentation. Serve with your fave sides!

Lemony Steamed Broccoli

1 Pound broccoli, cut into florets
Zest of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
1 Tablespoon butter, or butter substitute
Salt and pepper to taste

     Set up a steamer basket in a medium pot and fill with enough water so that it does not go over the basket. Cover, and heat on high until boiling. Once boiling place the broccoli in the steamer basket, and cover. Steam for 5 minutes, or to your preferred doneness.
     While broccoli is steaming, zest your lemon and place the zest in the bottom of a large bowl. Add the lemon juice, and butter to the zest.
     Once the broccoli has finished cooking add it to the bowl with the zest, juice, and butter. Toss to coat, and add salt and pepper to taste.

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