cooking tofu

Deconstructed sushi w smoky tahini tofu, arugula, avocado, pickled ginger, sesame, avocado, carrots, cucumber, white rice, kelp, and avocado sushi and you can bet I drizzled this in soy sauce after the photo haha 😜😜 

✨instagram✨: @veganzoejessica

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Vegan Spring Potato Waffles with crispy baked Tofu

Ingredients:

  • 500 grams potatoes
  • 3 scallions chopped
  • 1 tbsp vegan butter
  • cooking spray
  • 200 grams extra firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp cayenne 
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup soy milk
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp sriracha
  • ¾ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 tbsp oats

Directions:

  1. Cook potatoes in cold water for 20-30 minutes until tender. 
  2. Pat the tofu dry to remove excess liquid. Slice tofu into equal sizes then into “steaks”. In a shallow dish combine soy milk, salt, sriracha, tomato paste, garlic and onion powder, apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper. Mix well then lay the tofu steaks into the mixture and let it marinate for 10 minutes. 
  3. Preheat the oven to 200°C and lay a baking pan with parchment paper. Prepare two more shallow dishes and fill one with the breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast and the oats and the other with flour. Take the tofu slices dip each into the flour then back to the batter then coat with the breadcrumbs. Then place the tofu steaks on the baking pan and bake for 10-15 minutes. 
  4. Preheat a waffle iron and spray with cooking spray. Drain potatoes and season with butter salt, scallions and some freshly cracked black pepper. Mash the potatoes until they are smooth and creamy. Add 2 tbsp of the mashed potatoes onto the waffle iron and cook for 5 minutes. Continue until mashed potatoes have been used. 
  5. Serve the waffles with the tofu and drizzle some hot sauce on top (recommended). Enjoy!
Lazy tips for Tofu

Tofu gets a bad rap, and really it’s undeserved. 

Yes, tofu tastes bad when you cook it badly, but then so does just about anything else. It’s just that we’re much more conditioned to be forgiving of bad chicken, bad cheese, etc. And at least tofu is unlikely to give you food poisoning if it’s under cooked.

Yes tofu takes some prep. But then, so do a lot of other foods. You pay more for convenience foods of many kinds because some of the work is done for you. But as far as a ‘raw ingredient’ goes, tofu is cheaper than many animal products, and when you compare it to the work involved with preparing any ‘raw ingredient’ it’s really not much different.


That being said, here’s a few ways to make dealing with tofu less effort


Pressing

Pressing tofu is kind of an art - convincing the water to come out of the soy sponge without mushing it. This is an art I refuse to master. It’s up there with the art of eating gracefully, and ironing collars.

So I just freeze the tofu I buy. If I’m planning on using it in the next two days, I move it to the fridge. Somehow, some weird magical thing happens that makes recently defrosted tofu stronger, so you can basically squeeze out almost all the water in your hands without mushing it. This doesn’t work for silken tofu though - seriously. Don’t make the same mistake I did.

Another option, if you don’t care about the tofu being mushed up, is a clean tea towel, stick the tofu in there, wrap it up, and squeeze it that way.

Or don’t press it at all. This makes it less likely to absorb other flavours, but so long as you cook it enough it still tastes good.


Marinating

To be honest, I almost never bother marinating tofu for any length of time. My idea of a marinade is to throw random stuff in a bowl, then stir in some cubes of tofu. If I’m really patient, I might last a couple of hours. Usually it’s a couple of minutes.

If you want to marinate tofu to make it taste like something specific, like the ham component of a hawaiian pizza, you can make the flavours soak in a lot faster by immersing the cubes/chunks/whatever in the marinate and baking it for about ten minutes. Shallow frying with about 1cm of oil in a pot also works (avoid marinades that have a strong powder component).

Super easy marinades

  • Vinegar, Salt, Soy sauce
  • Brewers yeast (sometimes called nutritional yeast), salt, tumeric, garlic, cumin, lemon juice, oil (if you’re feeling like reaching for the spice rack)
  • Mustard, Soy sauce, Sugar, Sesame seed oil or tahini (optional, because expensive)
  • Veggie stock
  • Basically any stir fry or pasta sauce you have lying around will do


Cooking

The ways to cook tofu are pretty much endless. You can even have it raw if it works with the recipes. My favourite quick ways are;

Deep frying - It’s not really deep frying since you only need about a cm of oil in a pot. You want it to be pretty hot (but not smoking). You don’t even really need to press tofu if you’re cooking it like this, just squeeze it a bit over the sink. It’ll be crispier if you go hotter, softer if you go cooler. I often don’t flavour tofu before frying like this, I just have it with salt and maybe a little vinegar (seriously, it’s good) after. I’ve found it takes less than ten minutes to cook a bowl of nommy tofu bites. Probably not so healthy, but I’m prone to the odd treat now and then. I’ve found this also is a fast way to cook tofu that’s going to go in other things - like curries and stirfries.

Baking - If you don’t mind waiting for noms to cook (I go surf the net while I wait), you can just put whatever flavourings you want on the tofu (immersing it in veggie broth and baking is awesome too - thank you @theveganzombie), and throw it in the oven.

Shallow frying - I’ve found this takes a bit longer than I personally like, but it has its uses. If you’re frying tofu to go with other stuff, put it in first, even ahead of onions, and don’t be afraid to let it sit in the pan without being turned constantly, it’ll cook quicker if you only turn it every so often. If you want the tofu to still be crispy when you eat and you’re using a sauce, cook the tofu separately and add it at the end.


Pre-cooking

If you want nommy soy goodness straight from the fridge for sandwiches, salads, world domination, noodles, whatever, then you can make it up ahead of time, and see how long it lasts. 

I pretty much never bother to do this. The last time I made tofu bites to go on a pizza, it took all my willpower to allow even two thirds of them to actually make it to the pizza. Cooked tofu does not last long when it’s within my reach.

But if you have more self control than me it’s a good way to have teh noms on hand.


Storing

Fridge - Tofu has a long shelf life, it usually comes sealed. You can keep it in the fridge for a few days after opening so long as you immerse it in fresh water and keep it sealed. For tofu that’s been cooked, just keep it sealed.

Freezer - Unless I have reason to want the tofu soft and mushy, I tend to just freeze it, and take it out when I need it. If I need to defrost it fast I just stick it in a bowl of hot water, then add more hot water when it starts to cool. This is enough to get it to the point where I can cut it without any trouble.

Summer On a Plate

It’s summer, and yeah it’s almost never awfully hot in Detroit (to me this is not hot) but I’m going tropical. It’s more about feeling like you’re on vacation than it is cooling down, but we can do a little of that as well! Today, lunch is a mix of sweet, spicy, and chilled. No stove tops for this one!

Tropical Tofu Salad

  • 2- 1 lb packages of firm tofu, drained and pressed
  • 5 TBSP low sodium soy sauce
  • 4 TBSP cane vinegar (after tasting this I think rice vinegar would be a fine substitute)
  • juice of a lemon and a little of its zest
  • 2 red chili peppers
  • 1 bundle of green onions, tops
  • ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes

Directions: Prepare your tofu. Completely drain and press it, then cut it into chunks and set it aside in a mixing bowl. In a food processor, mill the coconut flakes into an even finer flake so your texture-hating significant other will eat it. Then set it aside. Skip if you’re all about that texture. Now, combine the soy sauce, cane vinegar, lemon juice, lemon zest, red chilies, and green onions and whiz it around until it’s well combined and the vegetables well chopped. Pour over the chunked tofu and then combine the marinade into it by mashing with a fork. Let it set in the fridge for several hours before serving so the flavors can marry. Serve with the breads, toppings, and spreads of your choice! Try to work with the flavor profile though, a’ight? Pinky promise?

Chilled Chili-Mango-Melon Soup

  • flesh of a medium cantaloupe, scooped out
  • 2 cups frozen mango, thawed (you can use fresh but I seriously suck at cutting them)
  • 1 red chili pepper, deseeded
  • 1 “ ginger root piece, peeled
  • 2 TBSP water
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 tsp molasses (optional)

Directions: In a food processor, combine the ginger root and red chili pepper with the water until it’s as homogeneous as you can get it. Add the coconut milk and molasses, then combine once again to hopefully get the first bit milled even finer. Start adding in the cantaloupe and mango in batches until fully combined. Let chill in the fridge for a few hours before serving so the flavors can marry.

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While many Americans are familiar with dishes like egg foo young, there are Chinese-American and Chinese immigrant communities throughout the country where foods like ma po tofu and congee are also on menus.

And Panda Express, America’s biggest Chinese fast-food chain, hopes to make those more traditional dishes mainstream. “Panda Express … has the opportunity to be the ambassador of Chinese food to many people,” says Andrea Cherng, the company’s chief marketing officer.

Chern’s parents opened Panda Express in 1983, at a time when Chinese food was still seen as “exotic.” It’s now America’s biggest Chinese fast-food chain, with more than 1,900 locations around the world.

But as Americans have become more curious, adventurous eaters, the challenge for the chain is to keep up with the changing food culture — while still seeming familiar enough not to alienate those many mall and airport diners who come to the chain for its Americanized spin on Chinese food.

“Our job at Panda Express is to follow that journey of how palates have grown,” Cherng says.

Want More Traditional Chinese Fare? Panda Express Says: Give Us A Try

Photos: Maya Sugarman/KPCC

Vegan Tofu Feta and Spinach Pastry

Happy Wednesday, everyone! I can’t believe it’s been so long since I last posted a recipe! I have a really good one for you today. It’s a Greek spanakopita inspired tofu feta and spinach pastry. I don’t really feel comfortable calling it spanakopita because I used some untraditional ingredients. Feel free to used this tofu feta on any other dishes you’re making! It would go great on a salad or on a charcuterie spread!

For the tofu feta:
Ingredients:
- 1 block extra firm tofu, diced into cubes
- ½ cup almond milk
- ½ cup water
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- juice from 1 lemon
- 3 tsp salt
- 3 tsp basil

Instructions:
1) Simply combine all the ingredients in a deep tupperware and store in the fridge over night to marinate!

For the rest of the dish:
Ingredients:
- 1 pack of Ternderflake puff pastry, thawed (or any other vegan puff pastry)
- 1 pack of spinach (roughly 11 oz)
- 1 tsp salt
- Flour for rolling out pastry

Instructions:
1) In a large saucepan or frying pan, cook down your spinach on medium, low heat. Add salt and 1-2 tbsp of the tofu feta marinade. This shouldn’t take long. 3-5 min max.
2) Add spinach to a large mixing bowl. Crumble tofu feta into the bowl as well. For good measure, add 2-3 tbsp of the marinade and 1 tsp of salt.
3) On a well floured surface, roll out your pastry. The tender flake comes in two rolls. Roll each one out into a square, about 15 x 15 inches (or as thin as you can without it ripping). Cut each into three strips that are 15 x 5 inches.
4) Add filling to each strip of pastry and roll into a log. Then spiral the pastry onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Don’t spiral it too tight. But not too spaced out that it’ll leave gaps once it’s done baking.
5) Continue with the rest of the pastry, and then bake at 400 degrees F for 20 minutes, or until golden.
6) ENJOY!!!

Mom's 13-Bean Soup

The winter my dad was in Iraq, my mom looked in the pantry one night and realized she didn’t really have anything ready to feed us with. The base exchange was closed and there was no way she was dragging two elementary schoolers to McDonald’s before bed. She had a whole mess of beans, some vegetable broth, and bacon. Bam, 13-bean soup, ready in time for dinner and good as hell.

You got beans? You got broth? You got soup.

You will need:

  • a box of stock – vegetable is good, but chicken or beef will work if you want a meatier flavor
  • a couple different cans of beans. Big, light-colored beans are perfect for this soup: things like butter beans and navy beans are great. Mix it up how you like, though, or with whatever’s in your pantry; lentils, black-eyed peas, garbanzos, and red beans are great too. Try to pick a couple varieties of bean to give different textures & flavors.
  • 3 cloves minced garlic. This is equivalent to about a heaping tablespoon of the jarred stuff, which works great.
  • 2 diced yellow onions (we like vidalia, for their sweetness)
  • olive oil, just enough to fry vegetables in
  • 2 bay leaves
  • dried oregano and basil
  • salt and pepper to taste

This is technically all you need to create a good soup. If you have more money and time and want to spice it up, you can add:

  • carrots
  • celery
  • bacon or other meat (MAKE SURE YOU COOK IT FIRST)
  • tofu
  • kale
  • potato
  • whatever else you want! Chop em up and throw em in once you’ve brought the soup to a nice simmer.
  1. Ideally, rinse the beans and soak them overnight. If you don’t have the time, just rinse them until water runs clear. Strain and set aside.
  2. Heat your oil or butter in a big soup pot over medium heat. Add onions and stir, cooking until they’re soft but not brown, about 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add garlic, bay leaves, and spices and cook for another 2 minutes or so.
  4. Add beans and stir, then add stock. Cover pot. Bring to a hearty boil, then turn the heat down to a simmer once it’s bubbling. Simmer about 1 hour.
  5. OPTIONAL: If you’re using meat or tofu, add now and simmer for another 5-10 minutes; same if you’re using a leafy vegetable like kale or cabbage. If you have hard vegetables (carrot, celery, potato) add before meat/tofu; stir in and simmer for another half hour before the protein goes in.
  6. Salt and pepper to taste and serve. Best with a crusty baguette.
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Tofu is one of my go-to food when I don’t have much time to cook but still want to eat yummy, healthy food. You can eat the soft (silken) tofu straight out of the package with the same sauce from this recipe which would be even healthier and quicker meal. But traditionally, Koreans usually cook the tofu, by either pan frying it like this recipe, putting them in casseroles, or steaming them. There are so many yummy recipes using different type of tofu in Korea that I could even make a recipe book just devoted to tofu. 

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