Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Lots of Tofu

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A lot of people think of tofu as some sort of freakish hippie-dippy health food. It's certainly not a prized ingredient, like say truffles or foie gras. Contestants on cooking competition shows regularly make the stinky face whenever tofu is mentioned as an ingredient. I have no beef with tofu. If tofu is fresh and properly cooked, it can be very delicious.

Now, what irks me is bad food. I'm always cranky after having a subpar meal at a restaurant. If I'm going to spend money to consume fatty and salty food, it better be worth it. We visited a particularly bad Chinese restaurant in Berkeley this weekend that left me irritated. The service was good but the food was flat and uninspired. We went there because it offers a wide variety of vegetarian dishes, except that nothing -- vegetarian or otherwise -- was any good.

I don't want to have a lasting memory of that bad meal, so I decided I'm going to make some delicious Chinese vegetarian dishes at home. I started by braising ("lu") a hard-boiled egg, some freshly made bean curd knots and homemade seitan in a savory broth, consists of soy sauce, Chinese cooking wine, vinegar, rock candy sugar, ginger, scallion, herbs and spices. I also stir-fried some Chinese celery with five-spice bean curd and -- fresh, not canned! -- bamboo shoot. I also made Ma Po tofu from a pouch and stir-fried some baby bok choy.

I got my tofu products from a tofu factory outlet. Yes, that's right, there is such a thing. In San Ramon, there is a Chinese restaurant that happens to be owned by someone who also owns a tofu factory. The soy products sold at the New China Foods are amazingly fresh and delicious. I have yet to try their soy milk, which I heard is thick, creamy and flavorful. But the one item that I'm really excited about is the silken tofu ("tofu flower"). I want to pair that with some blanched peanuts and ginger syrup for an authentic Chinese dessert.

I see a lot more delicious tofu in our future...

1 comment:

  1. Hm. This actually looks pretty tasty. -J