Tonight's meal comes with thanks to Top Chef. If you have been following the season this year you will know that last week Dale and Richard had to make "green perplexed tofu." I was excited since Dale had won a quickfire challenge a few weeks ago with an explicitly vegan dish (see the sidebar). But then Richard got the idea to marinate the tofu in rendered beef fat, causing me to yell at the screen, "Richard! For the love of all that is holy, what the deuce are you doing?!" (or something to that effect). Anyway, the original recipe is on the Bravo website, so I thought I would make a beef fat free version. I made a few other changes as well. The original recipe says to char the green beans with garlic--I thought I would probably just burn them and ruin the whole dish. I also ended up scrapping the crispy eggplant because I was just making a huge greasy mess. And, while I thought the almond-cashew crusted tofu might be good, I did not have time to marinate the tofu, so I thought it would end up being very bland. And, since my boys love rice, I worked that in as well. The end result kind of looks like a Mayan temple. but it was very tasty.
- 1/3 cup loosely packed brown sugar
- 1 tbsp water
- 1/2 jar Thai kitchen green curry paste, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp yellow curry paste
- 2 small onion, chopped
- 1 stalk lemongrass, finely chopped
- 6 green cardamom pods, crushed open
- 2 tsp coriander
- 1/2 cup chopped cilantro
- 1 cup coarsely chopped spinach
- 2 cans coconut milk
- 1 tsp soy sauce
- salt ( if needed)
- freshly ground white pepper
- juice of 1 lime
- 1 pkg firm tofu, pressed, and cut into large cubes
- large handful of green beans
- heaping tbsp hoisin sauce
- chopped cilantro for garnish
Get 2 cups of rice cooking in a rice cooker.
1. Heat a large saucepan over medium heat. Add sugar and water and bring to bubbling. Add curry pastes and cook for 2 mins, stirring constantly. Add in onion, lemongrass, cardamom, coriander, cilantro, and spinach. Cook for about 5 mins, until onion softens and spinach has cooked down.
2. Add coconut milk and simmer, uncovered, for at least 30 mins.
3. Strain sauce and return to pan. Add soy sauce and lime juice, and season to taste.
4. While sauce is simmering, coat tofu cubes in cornstarch and deep fry in 350 degree oil for 3-4 mins.
5. And, while all that is going on, trim the green beans and steam for 4-5 mins, until tender but not flaccid. When done, toss in hoisin sauce.
6. If you like the pic above, press the cooked rice into a small bowl and place in the center of a shallow bowl. Ring the rice with green beans. Top rice with a piece of tofu. Spoon some curry sauce over top of it all and garnish with cilantro.