Killer TofuPosted: March 25, 2010
I have a confession to make. For a good solid three years, I was vegan. I am not ashamed of my previous food choices and in fact, I continue to primarily eat vegan/vegetarian meals and I love it! Before you angrily close your browser in disgust, I hope you consider the abundance of foods available to veggie lovers. Contrary to the opinion that vegheads are self important, food nazis who can’t enjoy the simple pleasures of eating, or that they must be anorexic, or have severely traumatic relationships with food, the world of vegetarianism can be full of excitement and wonder. If your diet only consists of meat and dairy products, that doesn’t sound like a whole lot of pleasure or fun to me. I truly became a foodie when I entered into the world of fresh ingredients and vegetable bliss.
Part of my initiation into vegetarianism involved learning to cook with tofu. Prior to high school, my only other experience with tofu was a song from the Nickelodeon cartoon “Doug” sung by the fictional band, “The Beets,” it went like this: “OOooooeeeeeoooooOO, Killer tofu!” And I remember singing that at the top of my lungs with my sister and brothers, sometime in the early ’90s. Tofu was funny, strange and certainly exotic. I have to admit I feared it. I first tried making a stir fry with the vacuum packed, silken tofu and the jello-like blob that slurped out of the box completely disintegrated into a soupy mess in the pan. I invested in a tofu cook book and tried my hand at tofu “meat” loaf, barbecue tofu, and even tofu puddings. Some recipes failed miserably and I was left with slop, but for the successes I felt a sense of real pride. Tackling tofu takes patience and the ability to think outside of the box. It’s a fantastic food for creative, artsy types.
Tofu is not as frightening as you may think. The lack of flavor means that the squishy stuff will absorb surrounding flavors and does a great job of soaking up sauces and marinades. You can bake it for a chewy texture or steam it for a soft, pudding-like texture, you can make it for breakfast, dinner, lunch and dessert. It’s just as good as an egg, and you don’t have to worry about salmonella or cholesterol. Tofu is still my go-to when I want a quick protein boost. You can add it to smoothies, combine it with favorites like peanut butter and hummus, or eat it simply as the Japanese do: cold, garnished with only green onions and soy sauce. If you’re not ready for the traditional preparations, you may be overjoyed to learn that tofu can replace many common recipes.
I bring to you my favorite killer tofu recipe, scramble.
Here’s my recipe for basic tofu scramble:
1 block extra firm tofu
1Tbsp olive oil
1tsp black pepper
1tsp rubbed sage
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt to taste
Drain the tofu (make sure this is not the vacuum packed, shelf stable tofu. Buy fresh tofu, packed in water, usually found near the produce isle). Squeeze out excess moisture from the block of tofu and crumble to medium curds.
In a pan on medium-high heat, heat the olive oil. Add garlic and cook for about a minute before adding tofu. Cook tofu for three to five minutes to heat through. Add remaining ingredients. The turmeric will give your tofu a golden color akin to the color of egg yolks.
The mixture only needs to be cooked until hot.
I love adding sauteed vegetables or greens to this basic recipe. The sky’s the limit with possibilities. So get out there and try it for yourself!