Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Learning To Love Tofu

Before becoming a fan, "Tofu" also known as "Bean Curd" was not one of my favorite foods. It's bland and homely look in conjunction with it's flavor that is not exactly dynamic or interesting enough to garner a second glance now soars with sex appeal. Since it's association with the 70's hippie vegetarian movement - a time of culinary revelation, tofu has taken center stage as a versatile vegetarian protein and has made a name for itself out of the mouths of folks who were once avid meat eaters to now non-carniverous believers.
When I was younger I didn't have a desire for the soft, fleshy curd. It looked boring and the squissy, unflavorable taste was not appealing. As my palette developed and my desire to experience new foods grew, I began to study the milky white block and pondered the thought as to why people loved this food so much and what I can do with it to create delicious and satisfying recipes.
So at the top of 2005, I decided to go "vegetarian." I was already a pro at creating vegetarian specialties for my celebrity clientele using proteins like, legumes, beans, nuts, whole grains and tempeh, but now this was just the inspiration I needed to incorporate tofu into my some of my culinary creations.

So one day, (still trying to wrap my head around my tofu disinterest) and while sitting at my favorite Japanese restaurant hidden away on Ventura Blvd, I decided to give it a try. I ordered the Agedashi Tofu (a traditional Japanese appetizer dish, where deep fried tofu is steeped in a sweet fish sauce) and low in behold I fell in LOVE.
It's delicious texture was light and soft on the inside and had a crisp and light tempura batter on the outside. Simmered in a rich dashi, soy, fish broth, the lightly fried cubes gave a delicious savory flavor and were just the perfect portion for a delicious taste.

Before I knew it I had embarked on a mission to know tofu.

In my discoveries, the key to success with tofu is to understand the types of tofu, where they work well and where they don't. In my discoveries, there are two types of tofu...regular and silken. Regular tofu is the familiar white slab that gets sliced and diced. This is the protein I most likely was enjoying at my favorite Japanese restaurant when I fell in love. Regular tofu is sold, soft, firm or extra-firm. Firm or extra-firm tofu can be sauteed, grilled or poached in soups.

Silken tofu gets less coagulent than regular and is poured directly into containers and allowed to set. It has a soft texture and can be used to make salad dressings, dips and desserts.

So over the years my loyalty and dedication to tofu has found me replacing hormonal proteins for tofu in stir-fry's, dairy in baked goods and salad dressings and now desserts. Here is one of my celebrity clients all time favorite decadent desserts. Simple and easy to make, yet healthy and decadent to enjoy!

Decadent Vegan Chocolate Mousse
1/2 c. Chocolate Silk Soy Milk
8 oz. Premium Dark Chocolate, Coarsley Chopped
12 oz. Silken Tofu, Firm (Nori Brand), Chopped, Cubed
1 tsp. Pure Vanilla Extract
2 Tbs. E. Guittard Grand Cacao Drinking Chocolate
1 Tbs. Grand Marnier

In a small sauce pan melt the premium dark chocolate over a double boiler, once the chocolate begins to melt slowly incorporate the Grand Marnier. Remove from heat and set aside. Add the tofu, soy milk, cocoa, chocolate and vanilla to a food processor and blend until smooth and creamy. Pour the mixture into dessert dishes and refrigerate for 30 minutes. The mousse should be firm, chilled and ready to enjoy. Garnish with orange peel and chocolate shavings.
(recipe courtesy of: Celebrity Chef Kai Chase)

No comments:

Post a Comment