Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Tasty Tuesday - Tofu Pad Thai

I'm really excited about our cooking at the moment. We've been trying a few new things (new to us, anyway) and deviating away from 'old favourites' to expand our dinner repertoire.  So, I want to share some of our love of food and cooking with you.
We try and eat pretty healthily, and we're borderline vegetarians- getting done in by chicken, bacon, and fish occasionally. I'm a notoriously bad recipe follower in that I read the ingredients list and start putting those things into a bowl in that order before I realize that there's actually a method to be followed (whoops), and when I do actually follow the method, I tend to add and remove things as I see fit. This meal doesn't have carrot?! I add carrot. I figure I have a fairly good idea of what flavours taste good with other ones, so adding or subtracting things makes them tasty for us.
That being said, my mother laments the fact that my brother won't eat vegetables, and I don't blame him, living with her. She enjoys her vegetables, done the way she likes them, and I don't. I couldn't stand them. It took me a long time to learn to love certain types of veggies and 'untrain' myself that not everything is gross. We're still working on it. To that end, if you do happen to try something we make (yay!) you, of course, should experiment with things you like. Example: Most Asian foods call for coriander. We hate the stuff, it's poison, so we never add it. If you like it, add it. Maybe it's tasty for you.

So, today's Tasty Tuesday is a recipe I tried last week in order to use up some tofu that had been sitting in my fridge for too long. That being said, I don't/didn't like tofu. We'd tried it before, marinating it for 15 mins or so. Trust me on the part where I say that the secret to making this meal unbelievably tasty is to marinate your tofu, all day. Otherwise yes, tofu is gross. All measurements are approximate- I don't measure. Psh. This is for two, there are two of us. Also, although it looks really long and involved, it's because I'm a Postgrad student who writes 6,000 word essays, and I've forgotten how to be succinct. It's basically just making sauce, then chucking everything in a pot and cooking it for a short time at high heat.

You'll Need:
-Soy sauce (salt reduced, maybe?)
-Oyster sauce, or kecip manis. The recipe said the latter, but I didn't want to buy a whole new sauce, so just used oyster.
-Sweet chilli sauce.
-Two limes.
-1 clove garlic, or equivilent, chopped.
-A teaspoon of ginger.
-Sesame oil.
-Thick rice noodles
-Around about 160g of firm tofu.
-1 carrot
-A bit of capsicum/red pepper. (optional!)
-Handful of beanshoots.
-Roasted (unsalted) peanuts.
-A spring onion/shallot shoot.
-1/2 an onion (we use red, but only cos it's all we have.)
-Cooking/Canola/Peanut oil

How to do it:
So, like I said, marinating is important. Do this first.
Chop up your tofu into tasty-sized blocks. Put 'em in a bowl.
In another bowl, mix the juice of one of your limes (now, this meal gets limey very quickly, so if you're not lime fanatics like we are, you might like to use a half a lime here, and half later, or whatever), about a tablespoon and a bit of oyster sauce, and the same of the soy sauce, a dash of sweet chilli, if you're so inclined, and a pinch of sugar. Then put in your garlic and ginger, oh! and a few drops of the sesame oil. Mix!
Pour over the tofu, give those pieces a good stir to make sure they're all coated. Seal with cling-wrap (or whatever) and put the bowl in the fridge.
Go to work.
Or, if you're like me and you don't tend to spend a whole day out of the house, stir up all the pieces after like, 4 or 5 hours, then put it back in the fridge. I like to think this gives the tofu nice even flavouring. Yum. It'll start to go brown after a while. This is how you know it'll be tasty.

When you get home from work, if you didn't manage to sneak home during your lunch-hour
(You to boss: "I'll be back in an hour, sir, a girl on the internet said I needed to stir my tofu or dinner tonight will be a disaster"), stir your tofu and just keep it sitting there.
Mix up the noodle-sauce, and at this point, you can make the noodles according to the pack (usually in boiling water. Don't let them get soggy and too soft. You want them slightly undercooked for maximum awesome.) You want to do these things now because things get kinda intense once you turn on the wok.
For the noodle sauce:
Mix the juice of your other lime/remaining half of the lime, another dash of sweet chilli, if you want, another tablespoon or two of soy sauce, and another tablespoon or two of oyster. It should be kind of limey, but a dark brown colour. Sauce-looking. Keep this somewhere handy near your wok. You'll need it to make things sizzle like a master-chef.
Meanwhile, make sure those noodles aren't soggy.
If possible, have your boyfriend/fiance/husband/wife/pet/child chop up your vegetables- onions first, chilli if you want to add some kick, carrots, capsicum - if you're using it-, then spring-onion. I make Nic do it in this order, because this is the order I add it to the wok, so if I'm cooking and he's chopping, I can yell at him to throw me vegetables in order.
Before this, though, add a bit of oil to your wok and get it nice and hot. I add a few drops of sesame oil here too, for extra flavoursome.
When it's hot - drain some of the excess sauce from your tofu bowl into your noodle-sauce bowl (else it'll be too juicy) and then drop the tofu into the wok - be careful of oil splattering!!!
At this point, I usually wrap a tea-towel around my arm, and put our oil-splatter device over the wok, and let the tofu sizzle away.

Occasionally I brandish the metal oil-splatter protection like a medieval shield, and go in with my tea-towel wrapped arm to stir the tofu. You will get burnt, it will spit oil at you, but it makes the tofu kinda chewy/crispy on the outside. Yum.

It'll start to brown up. Make sure you stir. At some point it'll get darker, and this means it's done. Don't let it burn (like I did tonight) or it'll be a bit dry.
Take it off the wok and put it on a bowl to the side.

Add a little more oil to the wok, and cook your onions and chilli. When this is looking good, add carrots. Throw them around in here for a while. If you want to sound hardcore, pour a teaspoon of your noodle sauce over the veggies.
Add capsicum. Stir.
Add beanshoots. Stir.

After not too long, add your noodles. Now pour on noodle sauce, and stir around. Try and mash those veggies into the noodles or you'll have a noodle pool in the middle, surrounded by veggies. Not so awesome.
Put in your spring onions, too. And peanuts.
Stir stir! The action will probably slow down at first because of the sudden influx of noodles, but eventually it'll start sizzling away again. Cook up those noodles good.
Cook for maybe like, 3 minutes.
Then turn off the heat. If you're like us, I'm pedantic about someone being ripped off for tofu, so I count them out after all the noodles are in bowls. You can add them to the wok and leave it up to chance if you want, but don't blame me if there are arguments over someone having less tofu than someone else.

For photographic effects, I garnished with a bit of spring onion, but you don't have to do that, it's a bit wanky, to be honest.

Enjoy your meal!

1 comment:

  1. I love curry and we make it at home, but I've never tried pad thai. Bookmarking this to try!