Archive for tofu

Mabo dofu plus…natto!

Vegetarian spicy tofu

I’ve written about mabo dofu (that is, spicy tofu, also transliterated as mapo doufu) before, because it’s so darn tasty. The origins are Szechwanese, but it’s a very popular dish in Japan.

This version was extra-special, though, based on a recipe that Yusuke happened upon recently. Traditional mabo dofu is supposed to have ground pork, or possibly ground beef, but that just ruins everything. This is a lovely vegan* version of the classic dish, with mushrooms and natto instead of dead animals. Yes, natto: those slippery, pungent fermented soybeans. Along with the mushrooms, they provided a perfect texture and layering of umami.

Yusuke pretty much followed his usual recipe (quantities are approximate):

  • 1/4 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp chili bean sauce (a.k.a. tobanjan)
  • 1 tbsp sweet bean sauce (a.k.a. tenmenjan)
  • Broth*, around 250 mL
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 2 tbsp katakuriko (Japanese potato starch), dissolved in 2 tbsp of water
  • Green onions, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 2 packages of silken tofu, cut into cubes
  • Lots of mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 packages of frozen natto
  • Splash of soy sauce
  • Splash of rice wine vinegar
  1. Saute ginger and garlic in sesame oil
  2. Add tenmenjan and tobanjan and stir
  3. Add mushrooms
  4. After mushrooms begin to cook, add natto and mix
  5. Add broth, tofu (gently), and green onions and continue to stir
  6. Add a tiny bit of vinegar and soy sauce
  7. Drizzle in the katakuriko mix
  8. Eat with plain rice (and miso soup and salad)

Lovely, filling texture and awesomely spicy taste.

*Yusuke used chicken stock, but veggie broth is fine, as is dashi stock.

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Tofu making: the fail episode

The great tofu making adventure of 2011 was successful, if messy, and it seemed like high time to try again.

The steps were pretty much the same in this episode:

  1. Buy soy beans from the grocery store (dried)
  2. Soak overnight. 300g soy beans in 1 litre of water
  3. Drain the beans and purée in the blender
  4. Boil the purée with more water. Cook until there is no more “green”/raw smell, about 10 minutes
  5. Put the purée in muslin cloth and squeeze out the liquid into a bowl in order to the separate the “extra” material (okara*)
  6. Heat the liquid (now soy milk) to 70 degrees C in microwave
  7. Add nigari* and mix quickly
  8. Wait until the tofu sets
  9. Eat! [and clean up]

However, we had a lot of trouble at the muslin cloth step. The soy bean mixture was pretty mashy and although we squeezed with all our might and used a variety of implements, we couldn’t get much liquid out. So after about 2 hours of work, we had only 4 small ramekins of soy milk. We had tons of okara, though, so that’s a success.

The second problem was that the tofu didn’t set. It just stayed at soy milk consistency. I don’t know if was a problem with the nigari or the temperature or what. Sad panda. So we ended up with a wee bit of soy milk and lots of okara. And lots of mess. Ah well, it was a diversion.

*See previous post

Ready to squeeze

Ready to squeeze

Okara

Okara

A wee bit of soy milk was produced

A wee bit of soy milk was produced

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Red quinoa delight

Red quinoa delight

I made this one, and it doesn’t look half bad.

Procedures:

  1. Cook gorgeous, jewel-like red quinoa in rice cooker (same water proportion and setting as plain white rice)
  2. Dump approx 1 tbsp each of mixed garlic and ginger in frying pan
  3. Add sliced white onions
  4. Add ‘white’ bits of chopped bok choy
  5. Add chopped carrots
  6. Add ‘green’ bits of chopped bok choy
  7. When all is cooked, add cooked quinoa
  8. Add smashed silken tofu
  9. Add a couple drops of olive oil
  10. Mix all and season to taste with soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Sriracha or other spicy sauce is also good!

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Mabo dofu

Mabo doufu

Spicy tofu! So yummy. It’s difficult to manage the spice balance (i.e., overboard is bad), but of course Yusuke is a pro. It’s been a while since I posted this, so here is a repeat of the recipe:

Ingredients (measurements are approximate):

  • 1/4 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/4 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp chili bean sauce (a.k.a. tobanjan)
  • Broth (chicken or dashi): up to 2 cups
  • 1 tbsp cooking oil
  • 2 tbsp katakuriko (Japanese potato starch)
  • Green onions, thinly sliced or chopped
  • 1 package of silken tofu, cut into cubes
  • Lots of mushrooms, preferably shiitake or ground pork (if that’s your thing)

Procedure

Heat the oil in a frying pan and sauté the ginger and garlic

Add the green onion, chili sauce, and mushrooms. Let it cook for a few minutes

Add the broth, sugar, soy sauce and oyster sauce and stir

Add the tofu and let simmer for about 5 minutes

Reduce the heat

In a separate bowl, mix the starch with 2 tbsp water. Gradually drizzle the starch into the tofu and sauce. Add only one spoonful at a time while stirring constantly. This will thicken the sauce avoiding clumps.

My, how the photography has improved Chez Yusuke. Other mabo dofu posts here.

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Koyadoufu scramble

koyadoufu

I wrote about koyadofu (or koyadoufu or こうやどうふ) a while back—it’s dried tofu that can be re-hydrated.

We recently found some koyadofu at an Asian market and snatched it up.

To use this miraculous food, first soak the blocks in water for about 10-20 seconds, then gently squeeze out the water.

Here, Yusuke again combined it, cubed, with eggs.

He also included a leafy Chinese green in the scramble. I’m not 100% sure of the species, but I believe it is tsoi (or choy) sim (or sum). We frequently see it in grocery markets here, and it’s often one of the cheapest greens. The taste is similar to boy choy, but a bit heartier, like spinach. [Ergo, I tagged this post with both, because either could be substituted.]

Yusuke cooked the greens, koyadofu, and eggs in a frying pan, and then added tsuyu (soba sauce). (You can make your own tsuyu with soy sauce, mirin, and dashi.)

Typical Japanese!

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Birthday dinner at Sakura

Oops, posting this belatedly.

I debated long and hard to decide where to have dinner on my birthday. I wanted to try something new, but when I considered what I actually wanted to eat, all that came to mind was the marvelous creation that is スタミナやっこ (“stamina” tofu).

I first had this a while back at a Japanese restaurant near us called, perhaps uncreatively, Izakaya Sakura. It’s definitely not on the cheap end of the spectrum, but it’s not bad in the larger universe of Perth restos. We would highly recommended it, in fact, for an authenticate and tasty Japanese fix. It also seems popular among Japanese businessmen in the area. The restaurant faces a quieter side street and park, so it’s quite nice to sit on the patio. Although my old hometown can get warm in March (if it’s not snowing), I think that’s the first time I ever had my birthday dinner outside on a terrace.

Anyway, back to the birthday meal. This wonder of wonders is cool silken tofu topped with slippery chopped okra, gooey natto, spicy kimchi, and bonito flakes. The latter (latt-est?) was a bit much for me, so most of the rest went on to Yusuke’s plate.

But all in all, it was fantastic.

Happy Birthday to me.

Stamina tofu...

Stamina tofu…

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Asparagus-tofu-onions with sweet soy sauce

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Yup, this is another example of my work.

A few times recently, we’ve ended up with more tofu than we could consume in one sitting, so I stuck the leftovers in the freezer. This does interesting things to its texture, making it spongy (in a good way) when thawed. You can squeeze the water left from the ice right out without breaking the tofu. Then you can then cut it into cubes for use in stews or stir fries to soak up other flavours, or crumble it up for a stir fry or casserole. Tofu can be bought in dehydrated form (kouya dofu) to be used in these ways, but it’s fun to do it yourself.

Just Hungry and No Recipes have more interesting info and ideas for frozen tofu.

For my little dish here, I began by sauteing sliced red onions with lots of garlic and ginger.

I then added pieces of asparagus.

When it started to turn bright green, I added the aforementioned frozen-then-defrosted tofu, crumbled into a fine texture.

I also dumped in perhaps a teaspoon or two each of sake and rice vinegar.

As the tofu started to warm up, I added sweet soy sauce and sea salt.

Ketjap (or kecap) manis—sweet soy sauce—is something new to us here in Perth. It’s Indonesian in origin, and seems to be quite popular in Asian and general stores alike here. It’s more syrupy than Japanese soy sauce in consistency and is sweetened with palm sugar. Just a drizzle, then, was nice to flavour this dish.

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