Tofu can be tough to find in Baja. In Mazatlán we managed to find some that was super-pasteurized or something. It required no refrigeration until opened (just like the milk we buy here) and kept really well on the boat for months. Here in La Paz we were able to find regular tofu (the kind that needs refrigeration) as well as a few boxes of the non-refrigerated kind. But to get firm or extra firm we had to opt for the refrigerated version. Not that there’s anything wrong with that as long as we’re in port and can get it whenever we want. But, when we leave here and are living off our on-board stores again, it’d be nice to have a few boxes of firm tofu in the hold.
Those of you who aren’t tofu eaters may well be saying “Who cares if you can’t get hunks of fermented bean curd? It’s just for vegetarian whack-os anyway, isn’t it?” If you’ve been reading this blog for at least a few days, you’ll know that, while I may very well be a whack-o, I’m definitely not a vegetarian. We keep tofu on hand primarily to make our version of Mapo Dofu (recipe at bottom). The tofu just absorbs all the spicy flavors so well. That’s pretty much all we’ve ever used tofu in except for the occasional stir-fry, but we found one of those no-cook recipes the other day that used it so we gave it a shot.
This recipe for “Spicy Rice Noodle Salad with Cabbage and Tofu” is from Serious Eats. We didn’t really do any tweaking so please go directly to the website for the recipe. However, having said that, we both agreed that next time we would make a minor tweak. The cabbage pieces are too long to be eaten comfortably. Next time we would make sure the cabbage was cut so that none of the pieces were longer than an inch. It would be much easier to eat. And, that being said, I should note that we managed to eat it just fine. Matter of fact, we chowed down so quickly that the only photo I got was this shot of leftovers the next day.
We both agreed that, other than the long pieces of cabbage, this salad was superb exactly as written. No tweaks needed. The tofu soaked up the taste of the fish sauce, chile paste, lime juice, sesame oil etc. just like it’s supposed to. We did end up using spaghetti noodles instead of rice noodles mainly because we’re trying to get stuff off the boat, not bring new stuff aboard. This recipe is a definite keeper.
And here’s another keeper. Our recipe for Mapo Dofu, or as we call it after years of devolution: Pork Mock
Pork Mock (Mapo Dofu or Pock Mark Ma’s Bean Curd)
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 10 cloves garlic, minced
- 3″ piece of fresh ginger root, minced
- 1 teaspoon chili oil
- 1 tablespoon chili paste
- 1/4 cup dried tree ears, soaked in 1 cup hot water for 20 minutes then drained and chopped
- 1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
- 1 pound hot pork sausage, cooked and drained
- 2 one pound squares of firm tofu, cut into 1/2 ” cubes
- 5 each green onions, sliced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 3 tablespoons soy sauce
- 3/4 cup water
- 1 teaspoon Szechuan peppercorns, ground
Heat wok over high heat. Add vegetable oil. When hot, toss in garlic and ginger. Stir-fry for 15 seconds, then add chili oil, chili paste. tree ears, water chestnuts and Szechuan peppercorns. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add tofu and stir-fry thoroughly, tossing to combine. Add sugar, combining well. Cook for 2 minutes. Add the sausage and stir. Pour in soy sauce and water. Bring to a boil. Serve over hot Jasmine rice.