Posted by: thehungryrunner | March 4, 2008

Coming up: The Tofu Experiment

Yes, indeed.  I’ve crossed that threshold again.  Years ago, when I was vegetarian and very eager to embrace all the foods that graced the shelves at the local health food store, I worked with a great deal of tofu in my recipes.  Admittedly, what I found was that I enjoyed “plain” tofu preparations in restaurants…..but struggled to duplicate even the most simple of those dishes on my own.  Enter, baked tofu, particularly those pre-marinated flavors from the White Wave company.  Now suddenly the work was done for me!  All I needed to do was heat and eat.  I became quite the fan of baked tofu stir-fries, soups, salads, and sandwiches.  That said, over time, most of even my baked tofu eating abated a bit.  I guess even I will sooner or later grow tired of the repeat dishes.

But fast-forward to today, and one of the eating dilemmas I struggle with are finding vegetarian sources of protein that are at least moderate in their sodium levels.  Not an easy task!  You might ask, why vegetarian?  No, I’m not vegetarian, but I eat predominantly so.  Partly, it’s because I never really learned to cook meat very efficiently, especially not chicken or poultry.  So while I can fake my way through lean hamburgers, steak, and low-fat meatloaf….there’s not a whole lot else to my meat-based repertoire.  I do enjoy working with fish, but orange roughy (one of my favorites) is on the pricier side and isn’t always available.  And yeah, there’s tuna and salmon, but of course, there’s also MERCURY!  So I try to limit these fish more than I used to.

In any event, given the success of my skillet and one-pot meals of recent, which remain an omnipresent part of my week’s meals, I’ve become increasingly curious about adding tofu back into the mix.  I’ll be honest, I would add baked tofu probably before I’d add “regular,” plain tofu, only neither my grocery nor local health food stores carry it.  I don’t always have the opportunity to get to Whole Foods (where I also enjoy stocking up on seitan, a wheat-based vegetarian protein), so if I’m to use readily-available tofu, it’s going to have to be the good ol’ fashioned swimming-in-its-own-water kind.

But given my use of soups and steam-in-bag veggies these days…..I can’t help but revisit the possibility that I may find a use for especially extra-firm tofu that works well for myself.  Granted, these soups aren’t exactly light on the sodium count, but between the vegetables and the tofu being relatively low-sodium, my thought is that the recipe will even out somewhat. 

So here’s what I’m aiming to do:  After draining, I’ll sautee up some extra firm, cubed tofu in a little bit of roasted peanut oil until it’s beginning to become golden.  I’ll use a nonstick pan, but I have no idea how much (or little) oil will be needed for this.  I’ll start with a couple of teaspoons and add as needed.  Meanwhile, I’ll steam up some snow peas or sugar snap peas, maybe some carrots, then add them to the pot when cooked.  The soup….I’m not sure yet, probably a chicken-broth based soup of some kind.

I’ll post the results of the Tofu Experiment!

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