It felt so wrong, it felt so right…
I’m a carnivore to the core, but I’ve been trying to learn how to cook some vegetarian stuff too. Why?
Mostly out of boredom. (One can only deal with so many nights of “boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into cubes.”) But also out of thrifiness/unemployed-ness. (Black beans and fermented soy are cheap, yo.) And to save myself from panic if I ever have a dinner party with vegetarian guests. (Because we have a dining room table now!)
Anyway. I’ve had tofu before, of course, but never really been all that thrilled about it. I love eating; I needed to find a way to love tofu if it was going to make more than an occasional appearance in my kitchen.
Carnivore’s Tofu Tip #1: Hang it out to dry.
Just as you would pat dry a chicken breast or squeeze ice-melt from shrimp for maximum flavor absorption, tofu also must be wrung out before preparation. But tofu has a lot more water than your average hunk of flesh. There are bizarre-looking gadgets that can help you remove it, but if you don’t have one, an old college textbook works just fine:
(Thanks, Barro. And yes, I remember how to make those IS/LM graphs. Mostly.)
I let it sit for a few minutes, took it out and re-wrapped it (the paper towels were soaked!), and repeated.
Carnivore’s Tofu Tip #2: Flavor the bejeezus out of it.
When I think of tofu, I think of those cold crumbly cubes you often see at salad bars. (Once I mistook salad-bar tofu for feta cheese and was sorely disappointed when I got home.)
Plain tofu is gross. It just is. It needs bold flavor.
So I flavored mine with lots of brown sugar, soy sauce and red pepper flakes.
Bonus: if you toss tofu with something a little sugary and then bake it, it’ll crisp up a bit and almost make you think it’s deep fried.
Carnivore’s Tofu Tip #3: Surround it with love.
Or rather, with things that you love. This works for any food you’re trying to convince yourself to like, actually. I remember when I was trying to sell my picky palate on the concept of green beans. The first few times I made them, I absolutely drenched them in a pan with browned butter. I like green beans any-old-way now (except in those nasty casseroles – ick) but when I see one, my primitive little brain still screams “OMG BUTTER!” and my mouth waters. No better than Pavlov’s dogs, we humans.
But I digress. The point is this: when cooking a new food you’re wary of, it’s okay to splurge a little. Smother it with something you know and love, even if that means being a bit decadent. In my case, this was peanut sauce. (I would eat Styrofoam if it were doused in peanut sauce.)
The verdict? I really really enjoyed this tofu. I’m not ready to bat for the other team or anything, but it’s definitely an advancing crush. I snacked on a few of the brown-sugar tofu cubes (before drowning them in peanut sauce and other things in my big-ass salad, below) and they were tastier than chicken, actually.
Case in point? I ate the entire block of tofu. Which was supposedly five servings. Um, yeah. *Burp*
Make it for yourself and let me know how you liked it!
Today’s EAT: Tonight’s big-ass salad was pretty spectacular.
In the BAS: mixed greens, carrots, scallions, cashews and the Brown Sugar Tofu. I tossed it in a creamy peanut dressing (1 part jarred peanut sauce, 1 part lowfat greek yogurt, drizzle of sesame oil), which I could have easily eaten an entire bowl of. I love peanut sauce.
Today’s DRINK: A nice brown beer for a nutty salad:
Actually, this Scotch Ale wasn’t as nutty as I expected. (I’m not sure why I expected anything, because I don’t know much about Scotch Ales. Just that it was dark brown.)
It was delicious though! There was actually a hint of lime/citrus in this beer, which paired amazingly well with the salad. And it was a little bit sweet. An awesome sipping beer.
Today’s RUN: I’ll have to get back to you on that one. I was supposed to do a tempo run, but for various reasons am putting it off until tomorrow. Which is certainly a decision I will regret when I have to spend my Friday afternoon on the treadmill. But hey, what can I say. I live in the moment.
Today’s QUESTION: Have you ever trained yourself to love a food that you once hated?