A while back I wrote about tofu with broccoli and peanut sauce. One of our favorite easy weeknight meals, it has evolved through various permutations, and I really like where it is right now. We’ve actually eaten it twice in the last two weeks – partly because Jon is still on meds that don’t allow alcohol, so we’ve been having a lot of things that go with Oolong tea, but also because it’s really, really good.
My current approach is to sear cubes of silken tofu in peanut oil until hot and crispy on the outside, piling it onto bowls of brown rice with steamed broccoli (we do still make it with buckwheat soba occasionally, but it gets extra gooey – brown rice is easier to mix). Over this goes my new favorite peanut sauce, which I found in Deborah Madison’s book on tofu. It’s easy to mix up from pantry ingredients (as long as you keep Chinese black vinegar in your pantry), which makes it a great emergency recipe. We always have a few boxes of silken tofu on hand these days for just these occasions.
I can’t really explain why this combination of flavors is so good, but you’ll have to take my word for it. Everything gets combined in the bowl, creating a rich, salty-sour-hot amalgam of good things. Try it!
adapted from This Can’t Be Tofu! by Deborah Madison
- 1/2 cup creamy unsweetened peanut butter (I use Adams)
- 1 clove garlic, minced or pressed
- 3 Tbsp soy sauce
- 2 Tbsp Chinkiang vinegar
- 1 Tbsp sugar
- 1-2 Tbsp Sambal Oelek or other hot chili sauce
- hot water
Mix together the peanut butter, garlic, soy, vinegar, sugar and hot sauce until combined. Add hot water until it reaches the consistency you want. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
For some reason last week turned out to be a major seafood fest: oysters, fried calamari, fish chowder, rockfish and halibut. Not bad – usually we settle for shrimp curries and the occasional piece of salmon. The halibut was the only oceanic item I actually cooked myself, and it turned out very nice if I do say so.
In the spirit of using up stuff from the fridge before it went all slimy, I dug out a bag of slightly wizened serrano chiles and the remainder of a huge bunch of parsley. I seeded the chiles and tossed them into the little food processor with the parsley, a couple cloves of garlic, half a lemon’s worth of juice and a little olive oil. I zizzed it smooth, then added salt. It was very sharp and green with a definite chile buzz.
Nothing fancy here, once again. Just a bowl of broccoli cheddar soup and a few pieces of really good bread. Broccoli cheddar is one of my all-time favorite soups, but I never get it anymore – it seems like the local pubs never have it on the menu these days. And when I decided to make some myself, I couldn’t find a single recipe for it anywhere in my vast cookbook collection – so I made one up. I think it worked quite well.
I sauteed a chopped onion in butter, then added flour, then chicken stock, water and broccoli stems. When the stems were soft, I used an immersion blender to puree it all up, then added the broccoli florets and let them simmer until just tender. I added a splash of half-and-half and a good handful of grated raw medium cheddar.
To go with, I bought a loaf of Samish River potato bread, which was the perfect mate: soft but crusty, with a full sourdough/potato flavor. A lovely dinner.
We don’t have tofu at home real often – I usually get my fix ordering it deep-fried in Thai restaurants – but when we do, one of my favorite ways to eat it is with broccoli and peanut sauce. I remember we made a sort-of version of this back in college, when I lived in a vegan interest house on the edge of campus. One day we discovered we had left our shipment of tofu out on the porch…in Minnesota. In January. In case you haven’t done this yourself, let me tell you that frozen tofu takes on a really interesting texture, kind of like a hardened sponge. It’s not entirely unpleasant, and actually it was such a nice change from the usual that we all got very enthusiastic about it for a while. Anyway, we would cut it into cubes and toss it up with broccoli and peanut butter and rice, and it was good and more filling than a lot of the things we cooked in that house (I often had to eat a peanut butter sandwich after dinner just to get through the night).
My current version is, I hope, a little more carefully put together. We only recently discovered how good buckwheat soba is in this dish, but I like it a lot – the creamy sauce and tofu against the earthy bite of the noodles is great. Brown rice works well, too. Continue reading