I’ve been meaning to blog about this recipe for a long time, because the world needs to know about it. Tofu gets a bad rep, but it’s all about what you put on it to make it taste great, and how you prepare it to give it a palatable texture. My favorite way to season tofu is with a breadcrumb-like mixture of nutritional yeast along with garlic powder and fresh black pepper. Nutritional yeast is a delicious and nutritious seasoning that is really popular for vegetarians and vegans. It has a great savory flavor that is almost cheese-like and a bit salty. Its addictive in the same way as Doritos. You can buy it in the bulk bin at Whole Foods. I realize this sounds crazy — something as weird as tofu topped with something that sounds nasty because it is called “nutritional yeast,” but I swear on my life that this is the most delicious tofu dish I’ve ever had. I’ve made it for many a tofu-doubter and I’ve yet to meet anyone who didn’t like this recipe.
1 block extra firm tofu
3/4 cups nutritional yeast
1 tbsp garlic powder
fresh ground black pepper to taste
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
2 tbsp cooking oil
soy sauce for seasoning
-Serves 3-4 people
Heat the oil in the pan over medium heat. I like using cast iron pans. Prepare the spice mixture in a shallow bowl. Slice the tofu block in half lengthwise and then cut it into approx. 1/4 inch thick slices. The thinner you cut them, the crispier it will be, but not too thin otherwise it will break into pieces. Roll each piece of tofu in the seasoning mixture like you would with breadcrumbs, so its evenly coated . Many tofu recipes call for squeezing the water out of it prior to cooking, but in the case of this recipe, I find that the moisture helps the breading stick to it. Be sure the pan is evenly coated with the hot oil before placing the tofu in the pan. It should cook for about 5 minutes on each side, or until slightly crispy. I usually pour a little bit of soy sauce on this tofu once I’ve plated it — maybe a teaspoon or two, depending on how much I’m eating. Pro tip: I like to serve this crispy fried tofu as a side dish with pasta and marinara sauce, as well as a steamed green veggie. Serve as separate dishes or mix it all together in a bowl and top with parmesan cheese.
(Photos to come!)
In addition to having a bacon addiction, I have a miso soup addiction. I keep a tub of fresh miso in my fridge at all times. I usually make a giant pot of this stuff on Sunday or Monday nights and eat it each day throughout the week. This is a completely vegetarian dish, as long as you buy the kind of miso without fish oil.
I like to go to Chinatown every few weeks for cheap produce, noodles, sauces, tea, miso and other Asian specialties that are expensive at my local grocery store.
I made up this recipe out of necessity when I was sick. I had almost no food in the house and I really just wanted some soup. My roommate had a container of brown miso paste in the fridge that had been sitting there for months. I almost always have kale in the vegetable crisper, so I got this great idea to use it as a seaweed substitute. I also usually have a half block of tofu lying around. The first time I made this, it was just with the kale and tofu, but I’ve experimented with various additions and I think I’ve perfected the recipe.
Here’s what you’ll need (makes 3 large or 4 small bowls):
- 1/2 block silken tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 4 cups water
- 1/3 cup miso paste (white or brown)
- 2-3 large leaves of Kale, chopped into bite sized pieces
- 2-3 scallions, chopped
- 1-2 blocks of cellophane noodles (Pro tips: The Chinese grocery store where I shop sells noodles portioned off already, so look for this kind. The portions are about the size of a package of ramen noodles. If you can’t find the pre-portioned ones, a large handful of the noodles will do. The amounts here are not so important. I usually wing it. Also, sometimes I like to break up my cellophane noodles into bite sized pieces so I can eat the soup using just a spoon. Otherwise, a fork is also necessary, like with Pho.)
- Optional: Sriracha chili sauce, to taste, 1-2 cloves of finely chopped or pressed garlic
- Optional side dish to make this a complete meal: Edimame
Please note: I’m not very picky about the ingredient amounts that I use, so for the most part I gave a range for the measurements. Use more if you like a lot of stuff in your soup, or less if you like a brothy soup. I usually go for more, because when I reheat it I can always add more water and miso paste to the mix and get a couple more bowls out of it.
Instructions: Pour the water into a medium-sized saucepan. Turn the burner on to high heat. Add the chopped kale and bring it to a boil. Toss in your cubed tofu, chopped scallions, cellophane noodles, and optional garlic. Do not add the Miso yet! Cook for about 5 minutes, or until the noodles are soft. (You can do a taste test or follow the directions on your noodle packaging.)
You don’t ever want to let miso boil, so here’s how to get around that: Use a ladle to scoop out about a cup of the boiling water into a bowl. Turn the burner heat down to medium-low. Let the water in the bowl cool for a minute and then add your miso paste. Whisk it together until there are no lumps and pour this mixture into your pot of noodles and veg. Stir it all together and you’re almost finished! Just scoop some into a bowl. Serve with edimame pods, if you like. Garnish the soup with a little swirl of sriracha chili sauce for a kick.
Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Anna. I’m an aspiring journalist, recent college grad (seeking a JOB), Boston resident, kitchen-experimenter, breakfast food enthusiast, and yes, an ex vegetarian. My parents raised me meat-free, but in my late teens I decided to convert.
For the full background story, check out this column I wrote to accompany my feature article about ex-vegetarians for The Boston Globe. To make a long story short, I first discovered jerk chicken when I was 17, and that was that. A few short years after introducing poultry into my diet, I found bacon. My life has been forever changed. I’m basically a bacon addict. But this doesn’t mean I don’t still love tofu. After bacon, my second-favorite food is fried crispy tofu, breaded with nutritional yeast. This dish is essentially bacon for vegetarians, or tofu that omnivores actually enjoy. I swear! I’ll post a recipe soon.
This will be a food blog. I aim to share my recipes and babble about my culinary experiences, including those in restaurants, at my friends’ houses, and from my recent travels in Europe. Some of my recipes are totally vegetarian. Some of my recipes will include bacon as a prominent feature, which can be substituted with turkey bacon or veggie bacon. In short, this is a blog for everyone who loves eating delicious things as much as I do, especially open-minded, non-discriminatory eaters. I’m not looking for lectures from vegetarians, or vegans. I respect your choices, but I personally feel much healthier with a more varied diet. I can say this honestly after spending 17 years as a vegetarian. I may eat a lot of bacon, but I think I balance it out by eating healthily otherwise — lots of fruit & veg, small portions, very few sweets, etc.