There is something tremendously satisfying about making meals out of virtually nothing. Of course, my pantry is far from bare. But there are times the fridge is almost empty. Today I am enroute to a conference and as a result I'd been too busy to shop and so on Monday I was faced with very little to work with. In fact I was down to not much more than a package of tofu and some organic celery!
I had thought I would make scrambled tofu for breakfast one day, but really it just doesn't work without toast. Searching on the newly designed Epicurious web site I found what sounded like a terrific recipe. As usual I made some tweaks and the result was very satisfying indeed. For one thing I used soft tofu which I think absorbs the vinaigrette better and I skipped the sesame seeds and added some ginger. I think you could also add garlic if you like. I could see making this for a potluck or serving it as a light and cool no-cook Summer dinner.
Poor tofu, so many people seem to dislike it. But not me. I love it's creaminess and mellow flavor. This recipe is for tofu lovers and will not win over anyone who finds the texture of tofu unappealing. It reminds me a bit of those Japanese appetizers like the Summer dish hiya yakko tofu which consists of a cube of cold tofu served with a garnish of thinly sliced ginger and green onion, in a bowl with some soy and yuzu. If you are a tofu lover, give it a try, if not, just move along.
Tofu and Celery Salad
2- 4 side salad portions
1 (14-oz) block of firm or extra firm silken tofu
2 tablespoons mild vegetable oil
1 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
2 teaspoons rice vinegar (if using seasoned omit black pepper)
2 teaspoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon grated ginger
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 large ribs of celery
Rinse tofu and pat dry, then cut crosswise into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Arrange slices in 1 layer on a triple thickness of paper towels on top of a large baking sheet, then cover with another triple thickness of paper towels and another baking sheet if you have one. Weight the pan down with 3 1-lb cans or a large cast iron skillet to remove excess moisture and firm it up, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, whisk together oils, vinegar, soy sauce, ginger and pepper in a large bowl. Trim celery, then slice very thin diagonally. Cut tofu crosswise into 1/4-inch-wide matchsticks and transfer to a bowl. Toss gently with dressing, celery and season to taste. Do not use a spoon or you will break up the tofu. Served chilled.
Over at Bay Area Bites is an announcement about the Tofu Hakiu contest. I swear, I am NOT making this up!