Monday, October 8, 2007

Tofu snack bites

Living by myself is both enjoyable and somewhat precarious at the same time. I love that I answer to no one at all and that I can play any kind of music or watch any kind of TV program that I want without anyone piping in. Now, in theory, this also translates to my ability to cook/make/eat whatever I want. This is true, but it hasn't really happened to me. As a matter of fact, I used to cook/bake/eat a lot better when I had roommates! I feel that when I actually had other people to feed, I applied myself to actually planning a wholesome menu and making a nice meal. Now that I'm living solo, I feel like I don't have to make a special effort to make something nice to eat when it's just for me alone (especially after a hard day's work). The other contributing factor is the reality that food just doesn't taste or smell or look that good when it's enjoyed alone as opposed to when it's enjoyed with loved ones.

So anyway, a girl still has to eat, right? Thesedays, I've resorted to eating more conveniently. And no! I haven't been living off frozen TV dinners or disgusting canned veggies, thank the Lord! Instead, I have been eating convenient fresh things, like baby carrots and celery dipped in store-bought hummus (which seems to always be on sale when I'm shopping, yay!). Other indulgences include crunchy peanut butter and nutella, both of which I just eat by themselves, on a spoon. Indulgent, I know. Eating mostly veggies and chocolate spread is fine for the most part but my body needs more than that, especially since I started running on a regular basis.

I find meat to be a chore, what with living alone and stuff, so I've started eating a lot of tofu! Yep, yep, that good ol' delicious soybean curd. Prior to recent times, I haven't prepared tofu too much because it is rather unfamiliar grounds for me and I've never particularly found Asian-style tofu dishes too healthy. My recent trip to Japan changed that misperception. In Tokyo, there are many many types of tofu available, ranging from silky smooth to chunky and chewy. They also come in many flavors, my favorite being a sesame-infused chewy tofu served in a shallow pool of scrumptious soy sauce that we had at a shabu-shabu restaurant.
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I also bought a little basket of fresh, plain, silky tofu from a merchant at Matsuzakaya in Ginza. Enjoyed only with soy sauce, it was a simple, clean and healthy treat. The packaging might have been a little elaborate, what with the leaf wrapping and basket nest, but the flavor is simple and unadorned, the way good tofu should be eaten.
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The types of tofu one can get in the US is rather subpar compared to the delicacies in Japan (which is to be expected, as after all, Japan is like, the tofu capital of the world, in my opinion). I don't think the tofus found here can be enjoyed plain by itself. So anyway, I've been hunting for easy, delicious tofu recipes and to my surprise, even a generic recipe website such as Allrecipes has a few wonderful-looking options. So this past week, I tried the recipe for Baked Tofu Bites. I was immediately sold when I saw that one of the ingredients is sesame seeds *haha* Some components of the recipe sounds a bit weird, such as the addition of liquid smoke. Ew! In accordance with some of the other reviewers suggestions, I left that part out. I also did a lot of improvisation because I didn't have some of the main ingredients, such as ketchup, maple syrup and vinegar. Instead, I used the same amount of jarred pasta sauce, sugar and left out the tangy/sour component of the vinegar.
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Despite the multiple, rather un-kosher substitutions, the tofu bites turned out great! I expected them to be a bit crunchy but that might be because I piled the tofu cubes onto the baking sheet instead of spreading them out in a single, neat layer. I will definitely try to do this next time. They were delicious and flavorful and great as leftovers! Some future changes I might make to this recipe include using black sesame seeds in addition (or maybe, instead of) the white ones, adding a dash of sesame oil. Yeah, yeah, I'm a total sesame nut! Anyhoo, if you're delving into the adventurous world of tofu, this recipe is a perfect start: simple and delicious!


glamah16 said...

Tofu looks good. I just started to appreciate it. I figured you were at U of C. We must compare notes on our Oct challenge( I plan to do mine the weekend prior to posting). How long have you been a Daring Baker? I wonde if therearemore fellow Chicagoians out there.

zlamushka said...

I know what u mean. I just returned from Japan myself and already miss their tofu. I think the secret ingredient is actually egg yolks. They make it so gooey and smooth.

Rose said...

This looks great! I'm in science also--it's nice to hear from someone that shares two of my interests!

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