First off, I’m an idiot. My post yesterday was actually supposed to be day 8, not day 7. Great, at this rate this will be the longest vegan 30 day challenge in history. Maybe I can enter myself in Guinness. OK moving on to the grub…
It was freakin freezing today which put me in the mood for something warm and comforting. My trusty 1,000 Vegan Recipes cookbook had a recipe for Indonesian tempeh in coconut gravy that sounded promising. I wasn’t in the mood for tempeh though so I went with tofu instead.
Tofu can be intimidating in the beginning. It’s not the friendliest looking ingredient. It’s so BLAH it kind of looks up at you like, “what are you looking at? you totally don’t know what to do with me do you?” Tofu really is amazing though; it takes on the tastes of whatever it’s paired with. It can be salty, smoky, sweet, curried, whatever you want it to be. My preference? Seared. I like that crusty outside with squishy middle.
The key to doing this is getting all the water out before you cook it. Here’s how I do it.
1. Line a 1/4 baking sheet or cookie sheet with two layers of paper towels. Slice lengthwise into three slabs. Place another layer of paper towels on the tofu. Place a second 1/4 baking sheet or cookie sheet on top of the tofu. Weigh it down with cans and let it sit for an hour.
And that’s it, it’s ready to use! I used this batch in the recipe below. A nice hearty, spicy, warm, comforting meal on a cold winter’s day.
Tofu with peppers and onions in spicy coconut milk sauce
1 packet tofu
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced or in a garlic press
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium green bell pepper, chopped
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, DRAINED
1 (13.5 ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk
1 teaspoon sugar
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon chili pepper flakes (adjust to desired heat)
salt and freshly ground pepper
Asian chili paste
Serve over cooked brown rice or rice noodles.
1. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat. Make sure the pan is nice and hot then add the tofu. Shake the pan to ensure the oil is completely under all the tofu pieces so they don’t stick. You could also use a nonstick pan if you prefer (you can probably cut the oil to 1/2 tablespoon as well). Cook until golden brown on both sides. Remove from skillet and set aside.
2. In the same skillet, heat the remaining oil over medium heat. Add the onion. Saute until they begin to turn translucent 2-3 minutes. Add red and green peppers, garlic and chili flakes. Cover and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in drained tomatoes and coconut milk. Reduce heat to low, add the reserved tofu and sugar. Season with salt, sugar and pepper to taste.
3. Garnish with chopped basil and asian chili sauce (to desired heat). Serve over brown rice or rice noodles. I use this brand of asian chili sauce by Union Foods, available at Whole Foods.
On a side note, I had planned to put eggplant in this dish as well. That was, until I burned the shit out of it. See? We all mess up cooking, no biggee. The only thing that matters is how you recover. In this case, I made sure I had enough veggies to make up for the volume of eggplant I was missing.
I never do anything half-assed. Unfortunately, that includes burning things. See the pic below for proof. I almost dehydrated them down to powder. Note to self: don’t get sucked into a movie without a timer going. Rookie mistake.
Recipe adapted from 1,000 Vegan Recipes by Robin Robertson