The Yale School of Nursing is holding a cooking contest. Today was the deadline to enter recipes. The categories are Main Dish with Meat (boo!), Vegan or Vegetarian Main Dish, Salads, Appetizers, and Desserts. I have submitted for three categories, and perhaps surprisingly, the one category dedicated to vegan/vegetarian dishes is not one of them. Ultimately, I didn’t enter that category because we won’t be able to do any of the cooking on site, and the dish I wanted to make (sesame tofu) doesn’t travel well. However, I like the idea of only entering vegan dishes in categories that are NOT dedicated to veg*n dishes. I want people to see that vegan dishes are just as good (if not better) than their animal counterparts.
The three recipes that I did enter are Buffalo Seitan with Ranch Dip, Black Bean and Quinoa Salad, and the Cookies n’ Cream Chocolate Cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World (recipes didn’t have to be original, so if you’re gonna enter vegan cupcakes, you might as well enter a recipe from the vegan cupcake masters). I’m not going to post those recipes until after the actual cook-off is held (April 13th), but I will give you my Sesame Tofu recipe. Since the tofu is fried it needs to be eaten shortly after cooking for best taste/texture, though leftover cold Sesame Tofu is its own delicacy.
1 14 oz container Firm or Extra Firm Tofu, frozen, thawed, and well pressed.
1/2 cup unbleached flour or cornstarch
enough canola oil to cover the bottom of a 10-12 inch pan with 1/2 inch oil
2 Tbs Brown Rice Syrup
2 Tbs Soy Sauce
1 Tbs Rice Wine Vinegar
1 Tsp Sesame Oil, Toasted and 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or 1 tsp Sesame Chili Oil
1-2 Tbs Brown (white) Sesame Seeds, toasted in a dry pan until fragrant
1-2 scallions, washed, trimmed and chopped into slices
Pressing frozen and thawed tofu is much easier than non-frozen tofu. After draining it, simply put it between two plates, hold it over the sink and squeeze gently. It will wring out like a sponge- just don’t get too over-zealous and smash it flat. Once pressed, slice the block in half width-wise, and then into smaller chunks. Add the flour or cornstarch to a bowl, and toss the tofu chunks in, coating evenly. Heat the oil in a pan with high sides. When the oil sizzles when a splash of water is added (stand back when you do that. In fact, it’s probably not a smart way to do things, but it’s how I test hot oil), slide the tofu in. Cook 3 minutes on one side (or until browned), and flip. Make sure to turn again as needed so that all sides are browned. Turn off the heat, and remove the tofu to paper towls or brown paper bags to blot the excess oil.
In a seperate small pan, add the brown rice syrup through the chili oil. Heat until bubbling. Add the blotted tofu to a bowl, toss tofu with all rice syrup mixture to serve as an appetizer, or half as a main dish. For a main dish, serve on a bed of brown rice with steamed green beans. Drizzle the other half of the rice syrup directly over rice and green beans before topping with tofu, In either case, sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and scallion slices over the top.
As an appetizer.
As a main dish.