Monday, January 28, 2008

Barbequed Tofu Sandwiches, of a sort

My husband will never eat Tofurky, and damn straight, he says. He would however happily consume tofu stewed with konbu, kobacha squash with a side of wakami salad. That is closer to tofu in its natural habitat, apparently. Tofu in any East Asian style dish is acceptable. (I haven't really discussed with him if we will need to prepare tempeh in a South-East Asian style, but wheat-meat is something we have yet to discuss.) So, he would be more likely to eat Tofurky if it were not meant to be tofu turkey and instead roasted tofu. But, he is not really their market. They are reaching out to the veg people, who yearning for their childhood holidays searching for an alternate festive centerpiece. He, on the other hand, plans to brine and cook a turkey, free-range and what not, for every Thanksgiving forever. For him, tofu is an enjoyable food that any omnivore might enjoy on a trip to an Asian restaurant. And, it is this belief that fills him with dread when I fill my Heinen's cart with blocks of tofu. He fears that I might bring it home and serve it as I might a steak. And if that weren’t enough, I would bill it as “steak and potatoes.” For him, it is an issue of authenticity, intention, and honesty. Beans and franks, disgusting. Beans and tofu franks, lame.

So tonight, on the ride home, potato salad sounded good. Not, the mayonnaise and bacon one, but a warm one with vinegar, red onions, and capers. When I got home and started to work, I ended up going Korean fusion with the meal. This all began with a need for bahn-chan potato salad.

There was a Korean restaurant on Mayfield Road that I miss so sincerely. The food there was sporadic, but we were extremely, sometimes overly, loyal customers. They served a creamy potato salad as one of the little dishes that came out as you were seated. It was very rare. Apparently, the mayonnaise content would make it spoil, so they almost never made it. When that restaurant stopped making it altogether, I started making it at home. At the time, I had a friend from Korea, who was an excellent cook. I took her recipe and removed the ham (never been a giant fan) and added some crispy things.

This characterization makes it wholly unappealing, but that is more due to the inadequacies of my language rather than the recipe. My goal was to get a nice balance between creaminess, tanginess, and acidity. To accomplish this, I use small blue potatoes mashed with butter and buttermilk and then finished with some Japanese Kewpie mayonnaise, industrial wasabi, and mustard. For the crunchiness, I add carrots, cucumber, and daikon, all sliced oh so fine and dressed with rice wine vinegar and a pinch of sugar.

So, in the new dairy-free world, I mashed baked white potatoes with a pat of vegan margarine, soy milk, and soy yogurt. While warm, I added grated carrots and grated sun chokes (grown in America). I dressed the whole mixture with mustard, rice vinegar, and grape seed oil. The finished product was quite nice, but not the creamy lovely that I remembered. I think I might venture to the land of soynaise. I am not sure. I read on PPK, or in some of those ladies literature somewhere, they suggest I think the grape seed-naise or maybe they hate the grape seed-naise. I need to reread that…

All this writing about potato salad, and I have gotten lost about the topic of the post—the tofu. So, I wanted to make sandwiches. When I was pregnant, my in-laws had sent us a gift of pulled chicken from Montgomery Ribs (Bob Hope loved them.) I used to eat it on Heinen's toasted wheat hamburger buns with a yoghurt-curried-cole slaw. (Yes, everything I eat seems baroque. My husband says everything from my language to my taste in clothes leans heavily to the baroque.) But, I was trying to recapture that sandwich with dinner.

The result was wonderful. The tofu was grilled with nice crossed marks, and the barbeque sauce was sweetish like Korean galbi. I topped it with sautéed butternut squash sautéed with garlic, pickled red onion, thinly julienned carrots, and dry-sauteed mushrooms.

And, then halfway through the production of the components, I remembered a dish that Iron Chef Japanese made on the original show. I think it was the bamboo episode. Morimoto wanted to do a traditional American barbeque meal. He made a hotdog with catsup and French fries. The low-brow/ high brow result made the lovely female guest titter with joy. So, I decided to take the extra step and make fries, in this case butternut squash fries. They were so crispy and excellent that I fear that I will never get them quite so again.

No comments: