Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Recipes: Sweet and Sour Tofu, Fried Rice, and a Salad

Last night Chocka and the three of us made dinner together. Everything we made -- a rice, tofu side and salad -- came out very well, but eaten together, I think the tastes were a little too strong. I haven't yet learnt to think of a combination of dishes and get the flavours right!

Sweet and Sour Tofu

To serve 6
Recipe adapted from 'Diet for a Small Planet'

1 small pineapple
About 1/4 cup soy sauce
About 1/4 cup natural vinegar
Juice of 3 tomatoes
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tsp ginger, grated
2 200g packets of tofu
3 tbsp oil (sesame, preferably)
1 green bell pepper, chopped any way you like
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped any way you like
1 carrot, cut into very thin strips

  • Keep aside some pineapple to be put into the vegetable as pieces. How much you decide to put depends on how you would like it. Make the rest into juice for the sauce.
  • Drain tofu well (by wrapping in absorbent cloth and placing under a weight, and/or squeezing hard, till the texture changes so it is more... porous!). Break into pieces. Someone once told me it is better to break tofu by hand than cut it with a knife because the uneven edges make it more absorbent.
  • Mix the sauce ingredients: pineapple juice, soy sauce, vinegar, tomatoes, cornstarch and a little water (maybe 1/4 cup)
  • Heat oil, add ginger, and saute the tofu for 10 minutes. Cooking tofu for long enough gives it a wonderful texture!
  • Add the bell peppers and carrots and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the sauce and pineapple chunks and cook, stirring, till the sauce thickens. Do not overcook -- the carrots should remain crisp.
Fried Rice

To serve 6

2.5 cups of rice, cooked with salt till just done and spread out to cool well in advance
4-5 cups of vegetable cut very small (we used cauliflower, carrot, cabbage, mushrooms, beans)
Ginger, garlic to taste (we use a lot of garlic, here perhaps about 20 cloves)
Vinegar, Soy sauce, salt
Oil (about 5 tbsp)
  • The rice should not be overcooked and should be spread out to cool so it does not become squishy or lumpy.
  • Heat about 2 tbsp of the oil, add ginger and garlic, the rest of the vegetables. Cook the harder ones first, then soft, quick-cooking vegetables. Keep stirring vigorously.
  • When the vegetables are cooked, still crisp, colours vibrant, add the soy sauce and vinegar. Add the rice and stir well so it is heated through.
  • Add the rest of the oil and mix well. I prefer not to heat all the oil we consume, and to add it after cooking instead -- I think it is healthier.
  • Add more soy sauce and salt if needed.

Our salad had lettuce, diced tomato (cherry tomatoes would work even better), grapes slit in half and pieces of orange (just the fleshy insides). The dressing was just oil, vinegar (we have a delicious four-spice natural vinegar), salt, pepper.

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