Thursday, 10 April 2014

Hot and Spicy Coconut Tofu

Hot and Spicy Coconut Tofu
Colourful enough?

When I say ‘tofu’, my family members tend to stuff their fingers in their ears, and then slip out the door.  But I recently tasted yet another tofu dish at a gathering, and was pleasantly surprised.  I picked up a block of the most solid type I could find, and got creative.

This spicy and creamy dish is easy to make and actually tastes luscious.  If I were to serve tofu to guests, this is what I’d make.  This can be made in the time it takes to cook the rice and it serves four people very generously, nay gluttonously.  While the combination of ‘glutton’ and ‘tofu’ sounds absurd, the coconut gravy allows the oxymoron.  If time isn’t a factor, the tofu can be marinated for 24 hours ahead of time, ensuring the spices permeate every tofu molecule, although it isn’t necessary.

marinate tofu with garlic, chilies, and fresh ginger
Marinate ahead of time or that day!
3 cloves fresh garlic, finely diced
3 Thai chilies, finely diced (or to taste)
1 x 2” ginger root, finely diced
1 block tofu, diced

1 stick cinnamon
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 teaspoon cumin seed
½ teaspoon mustard seed
12 fresh curry leaves (frozen okay)
1 medium sized red onion, diced  

1/3 cup water
½ cup powdered coconut milk
½ teaspoon salt (or to taste)
15 grates fresh black pepper (or to taste)

1 sweet red pepper, diced
1 bunch asparagus, trimmed and cut into manageable pieces

Combine the garlic, chilies, ginger and tofu.  Set aside.  (You can marinate a day early if you desire.) 

The seeds sizzle up so fast!
Pour the oil into a large non-stick pan along with the cinnamon stick.  Turn the heat to high. When the oil seems hot, sprinkle in the cumin seed and mustard.  Within moments the seeds will sizzle, and when the mustard seed looks greyish, add the onion.  Turn the heat down to medium, and cook till the onion starts to become translucent and golden at the edges.  Add the tofu mix. 

Do not stir!  Instead, just leave the tofu to brown on the side it landed on.  After about five minutes, use a spatula to gently turn the tofu pieces over, and mix things up a bit.  When those sides get golden, turn over again, and let get golden.  (Each side takes about three minutes.)  Add water, coconut milk powder and red pepper.  Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Use a large pan to get tofu golden on all sides.

Gently stir to mix coconut and water into a creamy gravy.  Don’t worry about those lumps, as they’ll dissolve quickly.  When that’s heated through and the red pepper is almost tender (in a couple of minutes) add the asparagus and cook another minute or two till that’s also tender.  Then you can serve the creamy, spicy tofu over basmati rice.  If you like your gravy thicker, sprinkle in a bit more coconut milk powder.  This stuff is miraculous! 

I got the idea for this tofu dish from my recent pollock recipe.  Instead of fish, which might not be an environmentally thoughtful choice, this vegan meal is delicious yet responsible, especially if you’re hankering for something luxurious and elegant to serve to guests.  Earth Day is coming up soon, what will you be eating that’s good for the planet?  

Hot and Spicy Coconut Tofu
Actually I made my recipe for saffron basmati rice, but used turmeric, since it was just 'us'.

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