Showing posts with label sriracha. Show all posts
Showing posts with label sriracha. Show all posts

Friday, October 11, 2013

Tofukabobs with Peanut Sauce

I remember a conversation with a friend many years ago. We were talking about recipes and cookbooks, vegetarian cooking in particular, and my friend asked “Do you have any of the Moosewood cookbooks?” At the time, I didn’t, and as she talked more about the books I knew I needed to change that pronto. Moosewood Restaurant Cooks at Home found a spot on my shelves soon thereafter. The restaurant, located in Ithaca, New York, has now been in operation for 40 years, and they’ve just published their thirteenth cookbook. Their latest, of which I received a review copy, brings together all their favorite and most-requested recipes. In Moosewood Restaurant Favorites, some of the dishes have been updated from their original state because various ingredients are now more easily sourced than they once were, or maybe a dish has been made so many times, it’s been slightly modified over the years. The result is a fresh look at what the Moosewood Collective knows to be the most beloved items from years of menus. The book isn’t entirely vegetarian since there is a Fish chapter, but that’s the only place where you’ll find meat. Every course and type of dish is covered with appetizers, soups, dips, sandwiches, salads, mains, stews, savory pies, casseroles, wraps, pasta, sides, sauces, condiments, and desserts. These are classic, doable dishes that don’t involve hours of prep or any complicated steps to create them. I’ve been eying the Burgers chapter since I’m always hoping to find a perfect homemade veggie burger, and there are several options here. I’m going to have to taste and compare the Moosewood’s Classic Tofu Burgers, Falafel Burgers, and Southwestern Bean Burgers. In the Curries and Stews chapter, there are options for every season, and the Navajo Stew with sweet potatoes, chipotles, and black beans served with cornbread and Cilantro-Yogurt Sauce sounds like a great comfort-food meal. The Vegetable Stroganoff, Confetti Kale Slaw, and Italian Polenta-stuffed Peppers are a few other things I want to make soon. There’s an entire chapter just for tofu main dishes, but the first tofu recipe I tried was from Appetizers. The Tofukabobs would be fun as party food since this is food on sticks, and there are plenty of big flavors from the marinade and Peanut Sauce. 

You’ll want to press the tofu first so that it can absorb the marinade. After pressing, the tofu was cut into one-inch cubes and covered with a mix of vegetable oil and soy sauce. You could place as many as four tofu cubes on each skewer, but I went with three. The skewers were soaked in water to prevent them from burning as the tofu cooks. The kabobs were placed on a baking sheet and popped into a 425 degree F oven for about 25 minutes. I turned the kabobs at the half-way point of cooking. They don’t look very exciting after only 12 minutes in the oven, but just wait. After the full cooking time, the tofu turns golden and a little crisp on the edges. Meanwhile, the peanut sauce was a quick mix of peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, water, sesame oil, honey, and I used sriracha for hot sauce. Taste as you mix, and choose your consistency. I added a bit more water to thin the sauce to a good pourable state, and I added a bit more sriracha for an extra spicy kick. 

The kabobs were served on a platter with the peanut sauce drizzled over top. Extra peanut sauce was served on the side for dipping. I had to add a sprinkle of a few garnishes including chopped green onions, garlic chives, and serrano chiles. The platter of kabobs was soon empty, and I can see why these are a favorite. I’m so glad to have gotten to know Moosewood through their books thanks to my friend mentioning them all those years ago.

Tofukabobs with Peanut Sauce 
Recipe reprinted with publisher's permission from Moosewood Restaurant Favorites.

Tofu cubes baked on a skewer come out nice and chewy, a perfect vehicle for the delicious peanut sauce. We can’t tell you how many people this recipe— twelve tofukabobs— will serve. Is it going to be a snack, appetizer, central on the dinner plate, or part of a buff et? Then there is a bigger consideration: who will be eating them? Some people are happy with one skewer. Others force themselves to stop after four or five. Tofukabob enthusiasts are often people who said when they were first offered one, “Oh. OK, but I’m not too fond of tofu.” All it takes is a couple of people who go gaga over them to wipe out a platterful in no time. All tofu is not the same— the consistency varies. Be sure to get fresh tofu if you can. And, if you have a convection oven, use it for this recipe. 

Yields 12 skewers; about 1 cup sauce 
Prep time: 20 minutes Baking time: 20 to 25 minutes 

two 14- to 16- ounce blocks firm or extra- firm tofu 
twelve 10- inch bamboo skewers 
1⁄4 cup vegetable oil 
1⁄4 cup soy sauce 

1⁄3 cup smooth peanut butter 
2 tablespoons soy sauce 
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar 
1⁄3 cup water 
2 teaspoons dark sesame oil 
2 teaspoons Tabasco or other hot sauce (optional) 
1 tablespoon brown sugar or honey 

First, press the tofu for at least 10 minutes (see page 388). Soak the skewers in water. Preheat the oven to 450°F, or a convection oven to 425°F. Generously oil a large baking sheet. 

Cut the blocks of tofu into 1- inch cubes; you should get 24 cubes from each block. Transfer the tofu cubes to a bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together the oil and soy sauce and pour over the tofu. Using a rubber spatula, gently turn the tofu cubes to coat all sides. 

Thread 4 cubes onto each soaked skewer, leaving about 1⁄2 inch of space between them, and place on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between the tofukabobs. Bake until sizzling and golden brown, 20 to 25 minutes; less if using a convection oven. 

While the tofu bakes, stir together all of the peanut sauce ingredients until smooth. Serve warm or at room temperature. Arrange the tofukabobs on a serving platter and drizzle them with peanut sauce. Put the rest of the peanut sauce in a little pitcher, so the peanut sauce lovers can drench their tofukabobs, if they like. 

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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thai-Style Scallops and Asparagus

Scallops plus asparagus and Thai flavors was all I needed to know. I saw this dish in the food section on The New York Times site last week, and it immediately became a part of our weekend dining plans. With the current fling I’m having with asparagus and scallops’ unwavering appeal, this meal was sure to be a hit. That being said, I made some minor changes to the suggested preparations. First, Kurt and I both prefer for large scallops to be seared. While we agree on that point, Kurt also feels that sauce should never cover scallops once they’re seared because tampering with that seared bit of crust on the surface should be illegal. So, rather than cooking the scallops in the sauce as was recommended, I seared them separately and set them on top of the asparagus and sauce for serving. Another change I made was simply due to laziness. I didn’t feel the need to make fish stock for a mere one-third cup, so I used water and added a little fish sauce instead. Last, since I have a cute, little kaffir lime tree growing in a container on my front porch, I grabbed a few leaves from it to slice thinly for garnishing.

I made the curry paste mostly as directed by the recipe. Shallots, cores of lemon grass bulbs, ginger, garlic, anchovy paste, coriander, lime juice, and lime zest were mixed in a food processor. Oil was heated in a saute pan, and the curry paste was added. Asparagus, and I used more than suggested because I couldn’t help myself, was cut into small pieces and added to the curry paste. Then, I added water and fish sauce instead of fish stock, more coconut milk than suggested because I used more asparagus than suggested, and sriracha, and allowed the asparagus and sauce to simmer. Meanwhile, I seared the scallops in a separate pan, and all the while jasmine rice was steaming. The rice was served on the side, and the scallops were set on top of the asparagus and sauce making sure that nothing sauce-like came in contact with the top of the scallops.

The spiciness level can be determined by the amount of sriracha added, and I boosted it just a bit, but I didn’t want to overshadow the flavor of the scallops. The simple curry paste was a breeze to make, and I’m now certain I need a mortar and pestle. It was such a small amount to pulverize, it took longer to make the paste in a small food processor, with several stops to stir, than it would have by hand. Still, it made a flavorful sauce for this fresh, spring-like dish.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Piquillo Pepper Num Pangs

I made homemade Kaiser rolls, and I had a plan for them. I had been thinking about these sandwiches on Kaiser rolls for a year, or the recipe had been sitting in my files for that long anyway. Last September, these num pangs appeared in Food and Wine, and the combination of big flavors and crisp vegetables was something I wanted to try. They could have been made with just about any roll, and semolina baguettes were suggested as another option, but they were shown on Kaiser rolls which seemed just right. There’s a lot going on in these sandwiches. The julienned carrots aren’t just raw carrots. They’re crisped in vinegar with a little sugar. And, the pesto is no standard pesto. It’s made with Thai basil and spiked with anchovies, lime juice, and fish sauce. That’s not all. While plain mayonnaise would have been good, drizzled with sriracha, it was even better.

So, to make those quick-pickled carrots, cider vinegar and sugar were combined and the julienned carrot sticks were tossed in the mixture. That was left at room temperature for an hour and stirred from time to time. The pesto was made by whizzing the following in a food processor: Thai basil leaves, anchovies, lime juice, fish sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, and chopped garlic. The Kaiser rolls were split, toasted, and buttered, and then it was time to build sandwiches. One side of each roll was spread with mayonnaise and drizzled with sriracha, and the other side was topped with pesto. The sandwich was layered with thinly sliced cucumber, piquillo peppers, carrots, and cilantro leaves.

This sandwich has been by far my favorite use of these Kaiser rolls. For a sandwich full of vegetables, the flavor was incredible. The smokiness from the piquillos was a nice touch, but even raw red bell pepper strips would have been great. I definitely recommend the pesto, and there’s a tip in the recipe intro for a quicker version. Store-bought basil pesto could be doctored by adding chiles, lime juice, and fish sauce for a similar result. I also wouldn’t skip the sriracha on the mayonnaise. In fact, that will be appearing on almost all of my future sandwiches.

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