June 20, 2012

Tofu, asian greens and coconut rice

I had a harrowing experience with tofu when I was younger and didn't eat it for many years. On a class field trip to the ROM (Royal Ontario Museum), we were given samples of tofu during a Japanese-themed exhibit and I ended up getting violently ill afterwards. I don't know if it was actually the tofu or some random sickness, but I had a subconscious aversion to the spongy soy product for a long time. My mom tried serving it to me in spaghetti once instead of meatballs and I got very upset.

About a year ago I decided to try tofu again and I haven't stopped eating it since. I absolutely love it in stir fries, as a dairy and protein substitute and even grilled or baked in the oven. Admittedly, I actually ate a cold piece of tofu the other night as a snack (that's going a little far, I know). I have also been daydreaming of summer traveling and have been reading up on the amazing food in Southeast Asia, so I have been inspired by Asian recipes.

I had a container of spinach to use, so I decided to make some asian greens with tofu and rice. Who doesn't love some "sassy" spinach?

I usually use President's Choice sauces for stirfries, like their Sechwan sauce, but this time I wanted to make my own sauce from scratch. I used Goboroot's recipe for Goma Ae Sauce that calls for sugar, soy sauce, toasted sesame seeds and tahini (full recipe here). I toasted sesame seeds, then grinded them in my coffee bean grinder and added them to the sugar, soy sauce and tahini into a homemade dressing bottle.

I sliced the tofu into triangles and marinated the pieces in some of the sauce as well for some extra flavour before baking it in the oven for about 20 minutes. The tofu gets a little more on the spongy than crispy side when you bake it in the oven, as opposed to grilling or frying, but it tastes a lot more like a piece of "meat."

I steamed the spinach and added the sauce over the heat. I should have saved some roasted sesame seeds to sprinkle on top of the spinach for some extra crunch, but I used up all of the seeds in the grinder.

I usually only eat brown rice, but I had some white jasmine rice and added some extra creaminess to it with a spoonful of light coconut milk. I added the spinach and tofu and served with a little more sauce on top (not shown).

This is pretty much a variation of my go-to meal most nights: vegetables, sometimes tofu (or meat) and rice (or noodles). The next night I made a vegetable thai curry with the leftover coconut milk and some green thai curry paste.

Hopefully I'll be tasting a lot more thai curries soon, as I am in the midst of travel planning and getting excited about the possibility of visiting Southeast Asia this summer. I will likely be visiting quite a few countries there and may tack on a trip to visit family in the U.K afterward. It's going to be a busy summer!

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