Monday, February 4, 2008

Zen Mountain Tofu Soup

Well, actually Shingon Mountain Tofu. As it was 40 degrees today, I was tempted to make freeze-dried tofu. Apparently the monks in a monastery outside Osaka freeze-dried 2 by 2 inch blocks to create a perfect camping food. Alright, perhaps I skimmed the articles too quickly. What got me in them is that there is a special range of freeze/thaw temperatures that are needed to make this delicacy. Isn't Cleveland all about wildly changing temperatures. Well, I didn't make it, but we all need dreams.

But, there is a whole chapter devoted the use of it in Belleme’s Culinary Treasures of Japan. In it there was one recipe for a New England Boiled Dinner using this power food. I didn’t have it on hand, but I did have a couple blocks of frozen-frozen tofu. The difference is that the Japanese stuff is not frozen when used, but instead preserved through a process of freezing and unfreezing. Mine was just hanging out in the freezer. If I took it out and left it on the counter, it would eventually spoil.

So why freeze tofu? The tofu changes texture completely. It becomes a made of flaky layers and has the texture of chicken. (kind of.) Frozen tofu is enjoyed in Chinese cuisine, under the moniker thousand layer tofu.

I came home full well meaning to make this boiled dinner using red potatoes and squash. But, when I got in, I couldn’t find the cookbook and I really wanted something with a little flavor. So, instead, I sautéed my tofu without oil and made a thai-ish soup. The soup was so satisfying for Belle that I was moved to give up buying Veganomicon. I love Isa; don’t know her, but love everything I read. Yet, I wonder if the cookbook will stifle my cooking creativity. I love cookbooks, but almost never bring them in the kitchen. I started to rethink them when my methodical cousin asked me for suggestions on 3 cookbooks for the new cook. I gave him my three and my husbands three (not the same, incidentally). After that, I decided I would start cooking with measuring spoons and recipes. It didn’t last too long. The recipes were right; what the author wanted me to create. But, the cooking of that food just didn’ t do it for me. I like the chance of failure, the creativity, and the use of whatever I have on hand.

This evening I wanted to use the galangal that I bought at Whole Paycheck. And, so we ended up with Tofu soup.

Frozen Tofu Noodle Soup

Defrost and squeeze dry
1 block frozen tofu

Sautee in very little oil
½ inch of galangal, peeled and sliced

Add tofu and continue to sautée until browned, at which time add any vegetables including:
Sliced carrots
Sliced squash
Sliced zucchini
Slice mushroom

Before the vegetables are fully cooked add
2 cups water
1 cube frozen mushroom stock or vegetable buillon (follow package directions)
½ a package of thin rice noodles

Cook until the noodles are tender.


Darth Vader said...

Great !!

maybellesmom said...