The Ur-Meal

I mentioned in a recent post about tat soi my proto-dinner, the meal from which all other meals spring. (Okay, so that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but if all cooks have a meal they can rely on, make in their sleep, fit to suit the occasion, and, most importantly, are pretty much always in the mood for, then this is mine.) Ur-DinnerTonight, at the bare dreg ends of my last box (even the lettuce is gone! but not the napa cabbage, of course), I had to break down and buy myself some kale. Yes, at the store. My new box comes tomorrow and, seeing as how it is winter, and that the universe is a good and loving place, there will probably be kale in my box. But sometimes a girl needs kale, and she needs it now. So I bought some kale at the store, and I mixed some red and white quinoa and threw it in the steamer with some broth and I cooked up my Deborah Madison simple tofu and I put it all on a plate and man, it was just perfect. So perfect I could eat it every night this week, and maybe I will, when my box arrives all full of kaley goodness.

So, not technically from my box, but I get to show you this cool architectural photo of the ur-meal in its simplest form, and I get to give you the great recipe for tofu, which is so satisfying I pretty much never eat tofu any other way. (Well, except in curry.) (And frozen and marinated and cooked into casserole.) (And… well, you get the point. It’s a great way to cook tofu.)

Perfect Tofu (with liberties, from Deborah Madison’s wonderful cookbook, Vegetarian Suppers)

1 block of firm tofu (If you can get Sacramento Tofu Company tofu you will be in bliss here)
2 tsp. canola oil
salt & pepper
soy sauce
sesame oil (optional)

Slice the tofu into thin slices (see photo above). Lay slices on paper towels and pat down with more paper towels (this allows you to skip the offputting tofu-pressing step so often required, and Debbie says it’s okay, so it must be legal!). Heat the oil over medium or medium-high heat in a pan big enough to lay all the slices flat. Put the tofu in the pan. It may skitter and sputter at first because of the water in the tofu. It’s all good. Sprinkle salt and pepper on the tofu (don’t go overboard with the salt since you will add soy sauce in a few minutes). When the tofu has browned on one side, flip it over, sprinkle soy sauce over the tofu, and let the soy sauce kind of get sticky and evaporate in the pan, leaving a yummy crusty layer on the tofu.
Et, voila!

3 comments on “The Ur-Meal

  1. […] prepare tofu. Make sure you are using firm tofu, not the silken kind that comes in the vacuum box!… Next I would get a cookbook. The Moosewood series are all great and very clear and easy to follow. […]

  2. Love my Deborah Madison cookbook, This Can’t Be Tofu!! I will have to look for Vegetarian Suppers.

    • scrumptious says:

      A friend of mine who worked for her publisher gave me the manuscript of her tofu book and I adored it, but of course I never use it to actually cook with as it’s a pile of papers in a folder. I really ought to get the real book!

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