Wednesday, April 30, 2014

(Belated Again) Chinese New Year Meal #4: Spicy Warm Silken Tofu with Celery and Cilantro Salad

I love traveling but sometimes, when I get back, all I want is salad.  I was in Miami for work last week and when I got back yesterday all I wanted was a salad.  So we made some brook trout with this Make-Ahead Radish Fattoush Salad.  And then I also had a salad for lunch.  Tonight for dinner I wanted something relatively light, but flavorful.  I also wanted something that didn't remind me of all of the buffet meals (some of them were pretty decent, but most were pretty blah) I had all last week.  This dish was basically the antithesis of the random meats, pastas, sandwiches and salads I had last week.  The best part of each meal was the desserts so I had more than my share.  Strangely enough, one of the best meals I had last week was the shrimp po' boy that I had at the Fort Lauderdale airport.  How random is that?  Granted, it had coconut shrimp in it - and who doesn't love coconut shrimp?  Given the number of desserts I ate and the shrimp po' boy, it's no wonder I feel like I gained 5 lbs while in Florida.

This post has been weeks in coming.  I keep planning to make more Chinese meals for my very very belated Chinese New Year meals.  I'm 3 months late at this point, so I guess another few weeks won't make much of a difference.  I really am going to try to finish all of the posts up by the end of May.  I actually had another tofu recipe picked out for Chinese New Year but I decided in the end to make this dish because it looked easier (and healthier).  Everything in the dish worked together in a really interesting way.  I loved how soaking the celery, cilantro and scallions in an ice bath made them crisp and refreshing.  The sauce was really savory - nutty, spicy and funky.  It wasn't my favorite sauce, but it was one of the more interesting Chinese sauces we have made recently.  One thing I might recommend is another cooking/heating method for the tofu itself.  Microwaving it made it release tofu water which diluted the sauce.  So I would either microwave it in another bowl and then transfer it (minus the water) into the serving bowl.  Or I would try steaming it.  Steamed soft tofu ends up with a better silkier and more custard-like texture to it.

Recipe after the jump!

(Belated Again) Chinese New Year Meal #4:  Spicy Warm Silken Tofu with Celery and Cilantro Salad
Available at Serious Eats
1 stalk celery, cut into thin 2-inch matchsticks
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems
3 whole scallions, sliced into thin slicers at an acute bias
1/2 teaspoon toasted Sichuan peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon toasted whole cumin seed
1 tablespoon sesame paste (such as tahini), or peanut butter
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 teaspoons Chinkiang vinegar (see note above)
2 teaspoons fermented chili broad bean paste (see note above)
2 teaspoons sugar
1/4 cup Chinese roasted chili oil (see note above)
1 medium clove garlic, finely minced (about 1 teaspoon)
1 (19-ounce) block soft silken tofu
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds

Combine celery, cilantro, and scallions in a medium bowl and cover with ice cold water. Add 4 to 5 ice cubes and set aside.

Combine peppercorns and cumin in a mortar and pestle and roughly grind. Transfer to a medium bowl. Add sesame paste, soy sauce, vinegar, chili bean paste, sugar, chili oil, and garlic. Whisk to combine and set aside.

Spoon tofu into a serving bowl and microwave until barely warmed through, about 1 minute. Cover with dressing. Drain celery, cilantro, and scallions carefully and add to bowl. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

No comments:

Post a Comment