Sunday, January 18, 2009

Harry's Asian Tofu

My favorite item on the prepared food bar at Harry's Farmer's Market (now owned by Whole Foods) is the Asian Tofu; firm cubes of tofu baked in a dark sauce with carrots and sesame seeds. Since the grocery store isn't conveniently close to the house, they haven't published the recipe and working parttime in the catering department to obtain the recipe is just a bit obsessive, I attempted to recreate the dish at home. The ingredients are listed on the placard but didn't include measurements. My husband assumed the ingredients are listed in order of measurements. I winged it and eyeballed the measurements.

Here's my first attempt. It turned out about 75% close to the original at Harry's. It had a little less "gravy" and not as dried firm but still tasty enough that I'll be making it again. I suggest serving it with steamed rice (Thai Jasmine, my favorite) or tossed with Chinese-style egg noodles and garlicky stir-fried greens such as Chinese mustard greens, baby Bok Choy, spinach or kale.

15 oz. extra firm tofu (1 package) drained
2 1/2-3 tablespoons tamarind pulp (if unable, substitute about 1 TB sugar or less)
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sesame oil
1 carrot, shredded
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
1 med. red bell pepper, cored, seeded & julienned
1 green onion, finely chopped
2 tablespoons sesame seeds (black or white, or both - your choice)
3 tablespoons peanut butter
1/8 cup sushi or rice vinegar
cilantro (optional)
1 clove garlic
1/2 tablespoon ginger (fresh grated or powdered)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/8 cup lemon juice
3/4 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoon water (and a little more, if needed before baking)

Drain tofu, squeeze out excess water. Cut into 1x2-inch sticks. Set aside.

Pulse the following ingredients in a food processor: tamarind, soy, sesame oil, crushed pepper, peanut butter, vinegar, garlic, ginger, cayenne, lemon juice, sugar, water. Pour into medium bowl.

Stir in green onions, carrots, sesame seeds, and red bell pepper. Add a little more water if needed. Mix well and carefully tip in tofu cubes. Gently stir as to not to break the tofu cubes. Marinate for at least an hour, overnight if possible, rotating once to ensure all sides are covered.

Bake in 9x9-in. casserole dish in preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 20-30 minutes.

Serve with steamed rice or Chinese egg noodles and garlicky stir-fried greens such as Chinese mustard greens, baby Bok Choy, spinach or kale.

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