I ate tofu and I liked it

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?

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19 responses to “I ate tofu and I liked it

  1. coffee. i still am not the biggest fan but i’ve trained myself to drink it — out of necessity!

    glad you enjoyed the tofu. i’ve never had a really tofu prepared well for me so i’m still skeptical of it hahah 🙂

  2. I’ve tried to make myself love a few things, and I haven’t had much luck. Unfortunately, a lot of vegetarian substitutes haven’t worked so well for me, including my attempts to try tofu. (I think I have issues digesting soy, but it may just be because I don’t eat much of it.) I have to say though…what you made looks good!

  3. I tried to convince MH that we should try tofu, he was not on board, at all.. I don’t know how I’m going to sneak that one in on him.

    I really hate tomatoes, ick. Lately I have been making fresh tomato sauce, and I actually really like it. I do heat it up on the stove though, and I throw some spices (oregano, basil, parsley) in there with it. I can’t just eat it plain…. I tried a salad last night that had fresh diced up tomatoes on top..ew, made me gag.. but hey, I tried. I’m game to try anything, even if I don’t like it. I also hate corn on the cob, but H loves it, so i tried it again pretty recently.. Nope, still hate it.

  4. I also started eating tofu after I learned how to cook it and you are so right about draining all the moisture out of it. I used my big fry pan to weigh it down! I like using grape seed oil because it’s lighter and more conducive to high heat — so you get that nice crispy texture on the outside without letting the oil to soak in and re-saturate the tofu. The husband even likes it (the true test.)

    That beer looks fantastic!

  5. i love this post! this is my kinda shelby-esque blog-sass. yeahhhhh!

    anywho, i used to be a big tofu/ tempeh/ seitan eater back in my more eco/ health-conscious days. i surprisingly enjoy tofu plain (and have since i was a little kid) but love tasty pan-fried tofu too.

    i am really trying to like sun-dried tomatoes ‘cuz i feel like they accompany certain foods and tastes very well, but my taste buds repeatedly think they’re ewwwnasty. i’m working on it. any suggestions? maybe i should re-hydrate them in water?

    • Is it the taste or the texture? I get the oil-packed kind from TJs, and while I think the flavor is great, I can’t eat them straight out of the jar. Too chewy. But in a pasta sauce or something, they soften up and are delicious. That’s all I’ve got!

  6. I don’t think tofu will ever be my friend, but we definitely like black beans, garbanzos, navy beans, etc. I have learned to like various seafood that used to creep me out. Squid, mussels, clams all used to seem scary to me, but now I totally love good seafood.

  7. Tofu’s great when it’s prepared the way you describe it — with lots of fun spices and things. Otherwise, it’s “meh” city.

    I loved your observation about ‘Pavlovian training’ with foods. So. True. I tend to douse every “potentially sweet” food I eat with cinnamon, because from cinnamon buns past I tend to associate cinnamon with butter, sugar, and general richness. So when I sprinkle cinnamon on plain oatmeal, it’s like the oatmeal morphs into a freaking 1000 calorie cinnamon bun and my palate is none the wiser about the fact that it’s just regular old oatmeal. MAGICAL.

    My hope is to someday/somehow train myself to like cilantro…

    • If you figure out how to like cilantro, let me know! I have no problem with it, but the hubs hates it with a passion. It’s frustrating and eliminates so many recipes that I’d love to try!

  8. That tofu looks and sounds delicious!! I love crispy crunchy tofu, and that’s so much better for you than trying to pan fry it in oil… not to mention it’ll save my limbs from flying hot oil!

  9. This tofu sounds awesome! And so does the peanut dressing…I love anything with peanut sauce.

    I was veg for years because I just don’t like meat. One thing I learned during those years is that crusting tofu cubes in cornmeal and then pan frying them gives them a nice crunchy texture. Of course, it’s not as healthy because of the pan frying, but it’s worth a try sometime. If you’re going to try that, I recommend marinating the tofu before crusting it with the cornmeal. That will give it extra flava!!

    • How do you get the cornflakes to stick to the tofu? I’ve tried something similar to that with panko, and it was just a hot mess from start to finish. Also, what would you marinate it in?

  10. Coffee and oatmeal. Growing up I never even tried them and decided I didn’t like them. Glad I did!
    Also, I use to be scared to try salad, then I use to eat it without dressing. Good think I came around 🙂

  11. I still can’t eat raw tomatoes. I’ve tried to eat them in a sandwich or have it in fresh salsa, but I can’t get past the texture. I love them stewed/cooked but just can’t handle them raw.

  12. You are all my wonderful adventurous children! I wish that you continue your open minded ways about food (and everything else). I used to” hate” many foods…tomatoes, onions, peppers, even pizza! But when I forced myself to eat things because they were good for me, I found that I actually liked most of it after a few trys. One thing I can’t do yet though, is anything with guts (I even have to de-gut tomatoes). Oh, and still can’t do M&C, and probably won’t because it has little food value anyway. 🙂
    The tofu looks great!
    Love, Dad

  13. this looks great! and I love your use of a textbook! I’ve only cooked tofu once before and it was in a quiche. Even my husband was impressed by how well it turned out!

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