So all of my clients want to eat healthy and are fans of tofu.  Me being the raging meat-a-holic that I am…I’ve always had a very difficult relationship with the curd.  I love how it’s a blank canvas that wonderfully absorbs whatever marinade I choose, but I can never get over the texture….particularly when using the tofu as the featured player as opposed to a member of the ensemble in a stir fry or curry.  That is…until I discovered sprouted tofu.  The brand is Wild Wood and I found it at Whole Foods.  Not only is sprouted tofu more nutritious and easier to digest, but it has a nice meaty texture (the Super-Firm version) that grills up very very well.

Here’s a recipe for an Asian Marinated Tofu that’s nutritious and packs lots of flavor:

INGREDIENTS:

  • One Package Super-Firm Tofu
  • 1 Cup Low Sodium Tamari
  • Asian Fish Sauce
  • 1/4 Cup Soju or Sake
  • 1 Large Garlic Clove, minced
  • A thumb’s worth of fresh grated ginger
  • 2 Scallion Stalks sliced
  • Honey to taste
  • 1/2 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • Zest of 1 Lime
  • Brown Rice
  • Toasted Sesame Seeds
  • Chicken Broth
  • 1 Bunch of Cavolo Nero (aka black or dino kale)
  • 3 Large Carrots
  • Rice Wine Vinegar
  • Red Wine Vinegar
  • Red Onion
  • Yuzu Juice
  • Salt and Pepper

Alright…Just as a preface to the preparation…cooking from a savory recipe is very different from pastry work.  Whereas baking is a science that requires strict adherence to a recipe, savory cooking is like jazz…there’s a bit of improv in it.  The measurements I list are merely a guide…taste your food as you make it….if it needs more salt, more sweet, more spice then add it…trust your instincts.  Back to the recipe:

In a bowl, combine the tamari, soju, garlic (but save a little garlic for later), scallions, ginger, a few dashes of fish sauce, and the honey to taste (I don’t like my marinades too sweet because sugars can burn when you’re cooking the tofu, we can always add some sweetness later).  In a large ziploc add the marinade to the tofu and let the two get frisky in the fridge for half an hour to an hour.

Meanwhile….heat up a large skillet (I like a cast-iron one personally), add a neutral oil like canola or grapeseed.  After you’ve washed and dried your kale, add it to the pan and leave it alone.  I believe that cooking kale is like cooking mushrooms…let it get a good sear to bring out the flavor before you start poking your tongs around in there.  After that initial blast, begin to carefully stir the kale around the pan…it might be a little unruly at first but remember, a large bunch of kale will soon turn into a small amount of delicious braised greens.  Now that your kale has begun to wilt, add salt and pepper to taste with a few dashes of sesame oil and the remaining garlic.  Stir this all together and let it all cook for a few minutes but don’t let the garlic burn…now add a little chicken broth and toss the greens as they braise in the liquid.  When the broth cooks off, add more and repeat the process.  Continue this until the greens are tender and delicious…garnish with the toasted sesame seeds.

For the carrots…grate them, add a little rice wine vinegar, lime zest, the juice from that lime and of course salt and pepper.  Stir and let that all sit and mingle for at least 15 minutes.

The last condiment, pickled red onion, is not required because it’s something you should do at least a day in advance….but I like the color for presentation and the spot of acid it adds to the dish.  Pickled things in general are just awesome to keep in your fridge…they are the last minute condiment that often can take your food from good to delicious.  David Chang has a number of wonderful pickling recipes in his Momofuku cookbook and I’m into pickles now more than ever.  So slice your red onions super thin (on a mandolin if you have one) and combine with salt, water, red wine vinegar, and a touch of honey so that it covers your onions…if stored properly they’ll keep in your fridge for weeks.

Lastly…reheat that pan you used to make the kale in.  Get it piping hot, add oil, and now you’re ready to cook tofu.  Remove it from the marinade (but don’t get rid of it) and lay it in the pan.  Sear each side till it gets some good color and it’s cooked all the way through.  Take the tofu out of the pan and then add a little bit of the marinade and let it cook down (this would be a good place to add more honey if you like a sweeter sauce).  Slice your tofu and serve it over some brown rice, the kale and then top it with the carrots and pickled red onion.  Spoon the pan sauce over the tofu and you’re ready to eat….and of course you can always grab some  sriracha to give it some spice if you like (and I do…very much).

Hungry?