9.15.2013

Tofu Tutorial

Most people hope to find their calling by age 25.  There's usually a big difference between one's profession and one's calling, unless you were astute enough at a young age to listen to the faint and almost silent beat of the drum inside you.  But it's hard to hear the rhythm of the drum over the whispers of convention, the suggestions by family, or the chorus of duty.  Your calling is exclusively yours.  No one else can hear that drum but you.  People may predict your calling but the acoustics are programmed for YOU and only you can hear it.

I have a lot of interests and I have a profession that is a completely separate entity from my interests and I probably have a calling, maybe, but the sound of the drum is still muffled. 

Why are we so concerned about finding our calling?  What is at the finish line that we are so thirsty for?  Is it self-fulfillment?  Is it the fear of being ordinary and forgotten?  Do we want to leave a big footprint on the Earth when we go?  Do we want to be in a textbook or a Lifetime movie?

I haven't found my calling, but a lot of that might be because I'm not looking for it.  And I don't plan to find it.  It's probably a really terrible thing to say.  You definitely don't want your budding intellectual 17 year old son reading this post.  I haven't found my calling and it's definitely not cooking or blogging or mechanical engineering. 

I've never been ambitious.  I'm perfectly fine working my job, being a wife, maybe being a mom someday, blogging when time permits, and surrounding myself with people I love.  Laugh and live and argue and then laugh some more.  Eat cookies.  Watch addicting TV series.  Take 45 minute walks in the neighborhood.  Buy sunflowers for no reason.  Play board games.  Read the news.  Complain about chores.  Decorate the house for Christmas.  Drink coffee.  Hug people.

There's nothing wrong with being ordinary.  I love ordinary.

I'm not going to leave a footprint when I go.  I just hope to leave some broad brushstrokes of watercolor on the memories of the people who surrounded me. 

Tofu Tutorial
 
 Tofu is pretty ordinary, but that's to your advantage.  You can make Tofu taste like anything.  When it's made right, you'll see grown carnivore men devour it.  No lie.
 
 

Types of Tofu
  • Soft or Silken:  This is a good addition to smoothies, sauces, and even pies!  I've blended it with a rich tomato sauce for a "creamy" tomato sauce.
  • Firm or Extra Firm: I use this kind the most.  Drain the water well and it will be very easy to work with.  Add it to marinades and then pan fry.
  • Medium Firm:  I've never used Medium firm.  Maybe I'm an extremist.
  • Pressed Tofu:  This is the super-dense tofu available in Asian grocery stores.  It's also the same kind of tofu used by major Chinese food chains like PF Changs and Pei Wei.  Pressed tofu is great choice when texture is more important than flavor.  It's the best tofu for grilling (I recently learned).  Just remember that the flavor will be one top, but not inside - it's too dense to absorb flavors.  I'll be sharing a great recipe with you soon using pressed tofu.

This is how pressed tofu is sold.  Vacuum sealed.
The following is my process for preparing Extra Firm tofu, since I use that the most.
 
1.  Remove tofu block from package and drain.  On a cutting board, cut the tofu into 1/2" thick slices.  You can size them the way you like, but just make sure the thickness is consistent so that the cooking and browning will be consistent.  I don't recommend cubes because it takes longer to pan-fry, and requires more patience.
 
2.  Now for my exclusive tofu tip.  Tofu is a sponge, and when you remove it from the package, it's a sponge completely saturated with water.  In order to put flavor IN, you have to get the water OUT.  Until now, you might have heard people use paper towels to absorb the extra water/moisture, but forget that.  The paper towels don't absorb enough moisture, so there's still way too much water in the tofu and when you go to pan-fry it in oil, your kitchen will freak out.  I mean, really FREAK OUT, because oil and water are NOT friends.  You need two dish towels to absorb the right amount of water.  You should reserve and use these towels for tofu only, henceforth.  Only wash them with the rest of your kitchen towels.  Fold the towels length wise.  Arrange the tofu on one of the folded towels.  Cover them with the other towel.  Then place a weight, such as a cookbook on top.
 
3.  Wait for at least 20 minutes.  If the towels are completely soaked, then you might get another pair of towels and repeat the same procedure for another 10 mins.  For one block, I can get by with 2 towels.  For 2 blocks, I need 4 towels.
 
Putting my cookbooks to use.  hehehe.
4.  Now you can choose from the following:
  • pan-fry tofu in vegetable oil and then add to a saucy dish or make Thai satay peanut sauce for dipping
  • add the tofu to a marinade
  • apply a dry rub to the tofu and cook on a skillet
  • dice the tofu to smaller cubes and add to a miso soup
  • If you are new to tasting and cooking tofu, I recommend this recipe:  Here's a video tutorial.
 
A wok or a wide, deep skillet is best for tofu cooking.
 
How do you like your tofu?  What recipes or restaurant dishes have you loved?  Do you have any tips to share?

7 comments:

  1. In my opinion, you're far from ordinary but I loved this post and will go with it:) Also, I wouldn't rule out the lifetime movie. I think I'm just hoping to make an appearance as your sassy friend (played by Mindy Kaling of course) Great tofu tips too:)

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    1. Thanks, Sarah! I love that you think a Lifetime movie "might" happen. You would totally be in it, esp for my #1 comic relief.

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  2. Amen, sistah! I loved this! Although I totally agree with Sarah—very far from ordinary. And you do have a calling—it's to make me laugh!

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    1. Thanks! Haha - you're the one that makes US laugh! :)

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  3. I admire your contentment. To be so at peace with life in your 20s, so awesome!

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    1. Haha - I wish I was in my 20s! I'm 34! There's nothing wrong with wanting more or doing more or trying to achieve bigger dreams - I just am not programmed that way. I know it's pretty weird that I admit it out loud! :) Thanks for the comment, Sharmila!! I appreciate you visiting/reading.

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  4. Hehehehee....I love your blog it was awesome..This sounds delicious!! thanks for sharing with us.

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