Wednesday, October 15, 2008

You put the lime and the coconut... and the tofu. (VeganMoFo day 15 - two weeks down and the third one starting!)

Coconut milk: what can I say? I freakin' love it. Very few other flavors/substances pair so well with both the savory and the sweet. What else can you mix up with chocolate, or curry, or marshmallow, or lime, or or green chili paste, or lemongrass, or caramel, or avocado (oh yes) with equally delicious results? I can think of no other ingredient with the same range. And at the same time it provides unparalleled creaminess and body and flavor... but, actually, I'm not here to write a love letter to coconut milk.

I'm here to tell you about dinner! Where'd I get this recipe? Well I done gone and thought it up all my self. It all began when I started marinading some super-firm tofu chunks...

Coconut and Lime Happytimes, on rice.

  • 1 package superfirm tofu chunks, or, if you prefer, firm tofu well pressed and then cubed
  • stock of your preference (quantity explained below)
  • 1/8 cup tamari
  • juice of one lime (fresh, people! anything packaged does not taste the same.)
  • 1 tsp. green chili paste (or Thai green curry, this is predominately made of green chili paste) divided in half - more if you're not a spiciness wuss like I am
  • half of an onion, I like yellow, sliced in a thinness proportional to your hatred of raw onion (so, for me, pretty damn thin)
  • one bell pepper, roughly chopped, green being a good choice but you can feel free to mix it up (I used an orange pepper because it's what we had in the fridge)
  • one medium tomato, chunked
  • 1 14 oz. can coconut milk! make sure it's pure; nothing goofy, like reconstituted or with sugar added or any of that nonsense - just wonderful coconut milk as nature intended it... in a can
  • cooked rice, also of your preference - because, doesn't it really all come down to choice? - enough to serve as many people as you're planning to serve - but more than four would really be stretching one pack of tofu, don't you think?
  • salt to taste
  • Marinate your tofu cubes in the following: the tamari (you could use a quarter of a cup if you like things salty), one of your half-teaspoons of the chili paste, the juice of one lime, and then enough stock to almost cover your cubes. Let marinate for at least an hour or two, but for as long as overnight. I did it overnight.

  • When you're ready to get down to the cooking, throw your onion into a hot pan with a little bit of oil, because let's face it, isn't this the way we always start?
  • Once the onions are nice and golden and transparent and stuff, add in the bell pepper and tomato. (Like I said, I used an orange bell pepper; green would have added much more variety color-wise and a slightly different flavor, and wouldn't two or more colors of bells be just gorgeous? Red, yellow, and green: stoplight tofu!)

  • When the bell pepper and tomato have cooked down a bit, throw in your tofu cubes, marinade and all!
  • Add your second half-teaspoon of chili paste and mix in well.
  • Let the liquid cook down down down, all the way down; this takes some time. Do this over a medium flame, since your goal is not to boil off the liquid superfast but rather to let it simmer off, gentle like.

  • Once you're down to pretty much no liquid, add your coconut milk. Again, let it simmer - don't boil it! - simmer, simmer, and simmer all the way, for ten to fifteen minutes. Let sit for five minutes before serving.
This dish has a fairly soupy consistency, which is intentional; it works out well for putting it over rice. If you're using cold rice, say left over from last night's take out Chinese, give it 45 seconds in the microwave before ladling your tofu goodness on top.

Ta da! Coconutty limey tofuey goodness! Now go eat dinner.

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