Easy Stir-Fry

I’m off to Phoenix for a conference and a book event – very exciting! I have no idea what the food will be like, so I decided to have once last glorious meal at home, in the hopes that it’s vegan marvelousness will last me until Saturday night. The good folks at Albert and Eve regaled us with three broccoli heads, so I used a giant one for this recipe, as well as half a superfirm tofu package. It was easy peasy.

1 broccoli head, cut into florets, including cubed bits of the stems
1 tsp safflower oil
1/2 package super-firm tofu, cut into cubes
100gr buckwheat soba noodles
3 garlic cloves
1 cubic inch ginger
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp Sriracha

Heat up oil in wok and some water in a pot. Mash garlic, slice ginger thinly, and add. Then, add tofu cubes, the sriracha, and half of the soy sauce, and brown on both sides. Then, add the broccoli florets and the remaining soy sauce – you may need to add some water, as well – and stir-fry. While this is happening, cook soba noodles al dente in the pot. Strain and add to the wok, and stir-fry the noodles with the veg-tofu combo. Serve right away.

Old Skool Stir-Fry

 In the spirit of using up all our produce before our first CSA box arrives, here’s an old-skool stir-fry, full of vegetables and wonderful things.

3 carrots
2 large zucchini
3 beets + beet greens
a bunch of asparagus
3 garlic cloves
1 square inch ginger
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp vinegar
1 tbsp hot sauce
1 tbsp sake
1/2 package extra-firm tofu
1 spoon safflower oil

Chop vegetables into sticks or cubes. Cut tofu into 1/2 inch cubes. Mince garlic and ginger.

Place garlic, ginger and oil in wok and heat up until fragrant. Then, add soy, vinegar, hot sauce, and sake. Add tofu cubes to wok and sautee until coated with sauce. Add vegetables and stir-fry atop a medium-hot burner for about 20 mins. Serve over brown rice.

Tofu “Egg” Salad

One of the common side effects of visiting the Old Country is the fact that one ends up spending lots of time with friends and relatives, and therefore ends up eating out quite often and barely cooks. “One” meaning me. Fortunately, Tel Aviv restaurants boast an abundance of vegetables, grains, and beans, and it’s quite easy to eat healthful and delicious foods. Only yesterday I had the pleasure of sitting at Puah, a delightful place in Jaffa’s flea market, and eating quinoa with vegetables and mung beans in tchina, tomatoes, and spinach.

However, this morning my foodmaking instincts pushed me into the kitchen. This surprising step may have had something to do with the towering stack of exams I’m grading, which act as a wonderful incentive for cleaning the house, ironing shirts, and doing any other sort of menial labor. Not that these exams, in specific, aren’t good or interesting. It’s just a universal feature of exam grading. Many homemaking and other chores would never get done had their performers not had a pile of exams to grade as an alternative.

Anyway, I craved egg salad, and I didn’t want to make it with eggs. I grabbed a couple of recipes from The Tofu Book, a local vegan bible authored by legendary Zehoorit Sheiikhi-Bloom, which my dear pal and master vegan cook Amit photocopied for me a couple of days ago. Faithful readers may recall Amit from the fabulous tchina cookies we made a while ago, and will therefore have ample cause to trust him; and the recipes are, indeed, excellent. Alas, I didn’t have all the ingredients, so I had to make the alchemy work with what I had at home. So, here, for your enjoyment, are all three recipes.

The Quick and Easy One

300 grams tofu
1/3 cup tofu-based mayo (here I would use Shizen Tofu; North American readers are warmly recommended Vegenaise)
1 tbsp mustard
1/2 chopped green pepper
1 chopped celery stalk
2 chopped green onions
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric

Drain, dry and crumble tofu. Mix with other ingredients. Serve cold.

The Rich One

450 grams tofu
3 tbsps mayo
2 tbsps oil
1 crushed garlic clove
1 tsp dry dill
1/2 tsp celery seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 tsp sesame
2 tsp brewers’ yeast (optional)
1 1/2 tsp mustard
2 chopped green onions
1 chopped celery stalk
1/2 chopped green pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley
paprika, salt and pepper to taste

Drain, dry and crumble tofu. Heat up oil in pan, lightly fry tofu and drain again (optional). Place tofu in bowl and mix with other ingredients.

The One I Made

300 gr tofu
1/3 cup tofu mayo
1 tbsp dijon mustard
1/3 white onion, finely chopped
1/3 cup chopped parsley
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin

Drain, dry and crumble tofu. Mix with all other ingredients.

P.S. my version improves when green onions and celery are added; I added them a few hours later and they made the whole thing taste even better. This makes a great meal with a nice salad on the side.

Fast Red Tofu Uncheese

Another variation on the tofu “uncheese” theme, this time a soft reddish variety, that tastes somewhat like ricotta but with a bit of a punch. This is really good stuff. I made it to take over to our friends Shachar and Amit’s house tonight, with some crackers; I had a small container of matbucha, which is basically a Moroccan salad/salsa/dip made of tomatoes, garlic and spices cooked together for a long time, sort of like jam. If you like, you can make your own matbucha, but if you don’t have any and don’t want to bother, you can try doing this with roasted peppers or with canned roasted tomatoes.

1 block of tofu
2 tbsps matbucha; or 2 roasted peppers, cut into pieces; or 2 tbsps canned roasted tomatoes (the Glen Muir variety I remember from the Bay Area is pretty good)
1 handful fresh parsley
2 small chili peppers
Optional: paprika; basil; black pepper.

Place in food processor; blend until smooth. Taste and season as desired.

Dill Tofu “Uncheese”

One of my favorite places to eat when I just moved to Tel Aviv was Taste of Life, run by the Hebrew Israelites. This is a fascinating community of folks of African ancestry who live mostly in Dimona, a town more toward the south, and who abide by vegan nutrition principles as part of their spiritual practices. It’s a tiny place, but one that was offering tofu cheeses and patties long before these creative dairy and meat alternatives were popular in Tel Aviv. While the Hebrew Israelites refrain from meat and dairy for spiritual reasons, it is well known today that dairy allergies are quite common among folks of African ancestry, so there may be very good health reasons for their abstinence, too.

My favorite dish there was their tofu “uncheese” with dill, and I would buy small containers of it and snack on them on my way home… nothing would be left by the time I arrived to my fridge.

I’ve just managed to recreate the recipe, and here is my version, for your enjoyment.

200 gr soft tofu
4-5 tbsp fresh dill (big heaping fistful of chopped herb)
5 garlic cloves (don’t be shy with the garlic on this one)
juice from 1 lemon
pinch of salt and black peppper

Place dill and garlic in food processor, pour lemon juice in, and chop up; add tofu, cut into cubes, then process again until smooth or a bit chunky. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Kentucky Fried Tofu

And here’s something else that’s pretty cool; these easy strips are excellent in a sandwich with mustard.

Block of firm tofu
Soy sauce
Grated ginger
Brown rice / whole wheat flour
Olive or canola oil

Slice up a block of firm tofu into thin (2 mm) slices. Place them on a tray, pour soy sauce, add ginger slices and leave the whole thing alone for a few hours.
Then, come back; wash and dry the tray, and spread some flour on it. Heat up some oil in a pan. When the pan is hot, you have to work fast; dip each slice in the flour, coating it from all sides, and fry it in the pan. Flip after about 30 seconds, get out of pan after an additional 30 seconds. Yum!