Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Neither Rain, Sleet, Hail Nor Snow, And Coconut-Peanut Tofu With Veg

Do you see this? Do you see what lengths I will go to in order to bring you some good food? This is a picture of a really great dinner I made the other night. Only I was so desperate to photograph this meal without flash, my kitchen being filled with the overcast grey light of the rainstorm occurring outside, that I decided to photograph my dinner outside, in a rainstorm. That is rain in the background, mere inches away from my plate.

Sometimes the stars just won't align. The pictures of food ingredients don't really inspire ooh's and aah's, the natural light is uncooperative, or non-existent. A charming story to attach to the recipe fails to present itself. And the blogger is impatiently hungry but refuses to settle for a sandwich or a bowl of cereal instead of making a three-step meal. So I pour myself a beer, put 'Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme' on the kitchen stereo and struggle to grasp why Garfunkle is dressed so contemporary when Simon, in his ridiculous man-blouse, looks like he's about to hold court with Louis XIV.

I cut up some extra-firm tofu, having rediscovered my love for its pale, blank adaptability, and toss it in a mixture of flour, cayenne pepper and ginger.

I quickly pan-fry it in some veg oil, sesame oil, a hearty pinch of red pepper flakes and a dash of soy sauce, till it turns out like this:

Then some carrots are shredded, a tin of peas opened and a tomato gutted and robbed of almost all likeness to a tomato. It is the only way I can contemplate eating tomatoes.

These ingredients are then pan-fried in some oil and soy sauce till softened, and taken outside into the rainstorm to be photographed. The old man sitting under his grapevine structure next door must think I'm bonkers. But really, he's the one who randomly blows a whistle hanging around his neck and then falls asleep, face first, on the picnic table in the middle of the day, so I figure the Pot really shouldn't be calling the Kettle anything.

I make some rice. A delicious sauce from a pictureless cookbook called 'Quick-fix vegetarian' that I'd bought several years ago is whizzed up in the food processor; a coconut-peanut sauce that is sweet and salty and spicy and highly addictive.

A big plate is dished up and I settle into Husband's tatty, cat-scratched armchair, where I embark on a Coronation Street marathon via CBC online. The food tastes amazing. I can hear the rain pounding on the rooftops outside; the dog and cat have hunkered down to keep me company in Husband's absence. And as I fret over why I am feeling sorry for evil murderer Tony Gordon and continue to intensely dislike Molly Dobbs, I realize I am so, so cozy and warmed from within. I'm exactly where I want to be.

Tofu And Veg With Coconut-Peanut Sauce, adapted from 'Quick-Fix Vegetarian' by Robin Robertson:

1 package of extra firm tofu, pressed of any extra liquid and cut into 1" cubes
2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp neutral flavoured oil (veg, canola)
a few drops of sesame oil
a few dashes of soy sauce
a pinch of red pepper flakes
2 large carrots, peeled and grated
1/2 cup of peas, fresh, canned or frozen
1 tomato, chopped
A large handful of fresh cilantro leaves, rinsed and torn


1. Put on the rice according to package instructions. Toss cubed tofu in large bowl with the flour, cayenne and ground ginger till well coated. Heat the oils, soy sauce and pepper flakes in a pan over medium heat, then shake the excess flour mix from tofu cubes and toss into the pan. Stir often and cook the cubes till browned. Set aside in large serving bowl.

2. In same pan, heat up some oil and a dash of soy sauce and quickly pan fry the carrots, peas and tomato till softened, about 5-7 minutes. Add to the tofu cubes in serving bowl. Rice now ready, put some on a plate, top with the tofu and veggies, and pour a generous serving of the Coconut Peanut sauce (recipe below) on top. Garnish with the cilantro and salt and pepper if you like. Eat immediately!

Coconut-Peanut Sauce:

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter
3 scallions, chopped (I used 2; 3 seemed excessive)
2 tsp fresh minced ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
3/4 cup light unsweetened coconut milk
1 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
1 tsp light brown sugar
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tbsp tamari or soy sauce


1. In food processor, combine all ingredients and process till smooth, adjusting ingredients to your taste.