Friday, June 24, 2011

"Pressed" Garlic-Mint Tofu

 This succulent tofu is marinated to give it a great flavor, and then cooked while being pressed under the weight of another pot or skillet in order to get rid of excess moisture and keep it crispy.

Because our household is both veggie and non-veggie, we sometimes struggle with what to cook for dinner. Because it's a hassle to make two completely different meals, we often try to make food that is similar and uses similar ingredients, but one version is veggie and the other is not.

This exact situation is the concept behind the cookbook The Flexitarian Table . This book is divided into meals rather than individual recipes, where most of the meal is vegetarian, while the main course usually appears in two versions: one veggie, one not. Both versions use very similar ingredients and they are written in such as way as to create as little mess as possible.  Although in this case it uses tofu as a chicken alternative, not all of the veggie recipes in the book use "meat alternatives" such as tofu and seitan. The main change I made from the book is making extra marinade.

In the picture this is served with lemony Israeli couscous.

"Pressed" Garlic-Mint Tofu 

Ingredients (for 2 portions of tofu): 

- 12-14oz (about 340-400 grams) extra firm tofu, cut into four slabs about 1 cm/half an inch thick
- 4 large cloves of garlic, smashed
- 1.5 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 cup packed chopped fresh mint
- grated zest from 1 lemon
- 3 tbsp fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil


1. Prepare the tofu: place the tofu slabs on a paper towel, top with another paper towel and press down on them to remove excess liquid. Leave them under the towel until the marinade is ready.

2. Make the marinade: Mash the garlic to a paste with the sea salt. In a bowl, whisk together the mint, lemon zest, lemon juice, garlic paste and pepper flakes. Then, while whisking or mixing constantly, drizzle in the olive oil.

3. Put the marinade in a dish large enough to contain the tofu slabs and place the slabs in the marinade.Leave to marinate for about 30 minutes.

4. Prepare to cook the tofu: in order to cook the tofu pressed, you will need a large heavy skillet for the actual cooking. You will also need something to weigh the tofu down. I used another heavy pot with a clean bottom. If your other pot isn't very heavy, you can weigh it down additionally with a brick, a large can or another heat-proof object, or you can just press down on it while the tofu is cooking.

5. Cook the tofu: Put the skillet over medium high heat and allow it to get nice and hot. Take the tofu pieces out of the marinade reserving the left over marinade and place them on the hot skillet. Place your weighing-down pot directly over the tofu and press down. The tofu should lightly sizzle, but if it's smoking a lot and sizzling loudly then lower your heat a bit. Cook, pressed, for about 5 minutes, or until the bottom of the tofu is golden-brown and crispy looking. Then flip the tofu over, weigh it down again, and cook until the other side is also golden and crispy. Remove tofu to the plate or serving dish.

6. Take the reserved marinade (if you don't have a lot left you can add a bit more olive oil to it) and put it on the skillet on medium-low heat. Gently scrape anything that was left on the bottom of the skillet into the marinade and cook together for a few seconds. Pour the heated marinade over the tofu and serve hot.


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