While at Costco the other day, I spotted a case (12 boxes) of Mori-Nu extra firm silken tofu. This is the shelf-stable stuff that I use most often to make vegan mayo for Vegan Crunk's Dilled Tater Salad or quick chocolate pudding for dessert. I also use it pressed and grated in My Vegan Cookbook's Faux Crab Cakes and to make Cristina's Caesar Dressing.
Silken tofu gets a bit of a bad wrap in savory dish recipe writing. It is very custardy and works great in sauces and desserts, but a lot of the recipes you'll find call for a sturdier tofu (even going so far as saying DO NOT use SILKEN). So, with a case in hand, I headed home determined that I would give you some ideas for this staple that won't take up room in your refrigerator (although it will take up some freezer space).
The first round of experimentation resulted in the sesame crusted tofu cutlets in the photo above. These were a hit, and I've already got two more blocks curing in the freezer for some "no fish" cutlets soon.
Step One: Freeze your tofu
I knew that I would want to have four servings, so I cut each block in half and then sliced each half into two cutlets by standing the block on the cut end and using the handy seam from the box to slide my knife down the middle. I then wrapped the cutlets (I got four from each block, so eight total) in plastic wrap and put them in a freezer container. The plastic wrap keeps them separate and helps you lift them out later for squeezing. Let the tofu freeze for at least 48 hours. It will turn quite yellow (see the second set of pictures below), but will return to white once thawed.
Step Two: Squeeze out the water
The first picture above shows what a frozen cutlet looks like before I pressed it between my palms. The second picture shows the flattened, pressed cutlet. You can see from the third picture that these little darlings are a bit flaky and tender, but you can press the flakes together. Just be ginger.
Step Three: Make it tasty and give it a crust
I kept it simple. Also from Costco, I had a huge jug of Soy-Vey Teriyaki Sauce. This stuff is so awesome. I put some in a bowl. I also put out some sesame seeds on a plate and then dipped each cutlet first in the teriyaki, then coated with sesame seeds. These went down on a sprayed baking sheet. I spritzed the top of them, as well. They shared the sheet with slices of portobello mushroom that had been marinated in the Soy Vey that was left in the bowl after I put the tofu in it. No need to waste!
I cooked at 350 for 15 minutes and then gently turned them over and went another 15. I turned the oven off and left the cutlets in there while I prepped the rest of my noodle bowl ingredients (rice noodles and various raw vegetables). So, they were in the hot oven longer than 30 minutes.
About once a week, Dr. Dani has to travel to a clinic in another county to see patients. The drive apparently happens lunch time (luckily for her, as otherwise she might not get lunch), so I strive to give her something for lunch that she can eat while driving. I decided last week to make a whole wheat bun filled with cooked chickpeas, sweet potatoes, and kale. I have to confess that the amount of filling was more than what I got in my bun dough, so the leftover filling (there wasn't a huge amount) went in the freezer and will likely be used in a wrap later when I'm home alone and searching for something to eat.
1/4 cup warm water
1 Tablespoon of sugar or honey
1 Tablespoon of instant yeast
Let this hang out until it's foamy (about ten minutes). Then, stir in 3 cups of White Whole Wheat Flour and 2 Tablespoons of Vital Wheat Gluten.
Stir together 1 cup warm water, 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Stir this into the flour mixture and knead on a lightly floured board (or even in the mixing bowl) until the dough is fairly smooth and isn't sticking to your hands. Let rise for 1.5-2 hours.
Note: I add oil and sugar because I find with a whole wheat bread that it helps the bread stay soft. Without those ingredients, the bread will taste fine, but I find the crust a bit abrasive on the roof of the mouth. It is your call. You could also leave the vital wheat gluten out. I put it in to help give the whole grain flour a bit more elasticity since you want a dough forgiving enough to stretch around the filling.
1 cup diced onion
3 cups diced sweet potato (I peeled mine because they were a bit gnarly. You decide).
1 Tablespoon minced garlic
1 Tablespoon minced ginger root
2 jalapeños, seeded and minced. (I had a red and a green).
4 cups chopped kale
2 cups cooked chickpeas
2 Tablespoons of no chicken broth powder
1 Tablespoon of Garam Masala seasoning
1 cup water
2 Tablespoons lime or lemon juice
Start with the onion and sweet potato in a non-stick skillet on medium heat. Cook until the sweet potato has begun to brown and is fairly tender. Stir in garlic, peppers, and ginger and let cook for a minute or two then add chickpeas and kale, stirring to mix. Mix the spices and liquid ingredients in the water (or throw them in the pan briefly to toast and revitalize them) and put all in the pan. Stir until the kale is tender and the liquid has cooked down. The mixture should be moist enough to hold together, but it should not be wet or soupy. Allow the mixture to cool in the refrigerator while the bread rises.
To stuff the buns, punch the dough down and divide into 12 equal portions. Using your hands or a rolling pin, flatten a dough ball and shape into a circle. Put 2-3 Tablespoons of the chilled chickpea mixture in the center and start pinching the sides together, wrapping up the dough. Twist the ends together and place seam side down on a baking sheet that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Keep going until all 12 buns are stuffed.
Cover with a clean dish towel and let rise for 45 minutes or longer. You can spray with a bit of nonstick spray before baking them off in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes. The bottoms should be golden.
Angel lives in Camden, Arkansas where she writes stuff and sometimes sends it out to other people to read. She used to grade papers, but not anymore. Check out her main site to see what she's up to lately.