Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Five-spice baked tofu with peppers and onions

Who doesn't love a big old bowl of sizzling Italian sausages, redolent of fennel, sauteed with a bunch of sliced green peppers and onions in good olive oil?  Can I see a show of hands?

No pigmeat for me tonight, though, and I thought we were out of those tasty LightLife faux sausages until Mary showed me (later) where they had been hiding in plain sight.  Never mind! Necessity is the mother of invention, and the bright idea of pressing and baking a half-ration of extra-firm tofu with a gently anise-scented Five Spice marinade made an appealing alternative.

This is another of those dishes that's too easy to need a detailed recipe, but for starters, take half of a block of extra-firm tofu - organic matters with soy products, by the way, if you prefer to avoid GMO tweaks in your dinner - and press it gently between two cutting boards weighted by a few canned goods for a half-hour or so. This procedure will press some water out of the tofu, making it even more firm.  Slice it into large bite-size cubes (I got about 24 out of the half-block) and set them aside to dry.

Meanwhile, make a marinade with 1/2 cup vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons soy sauce, 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil, abundant minced ginger and garlic, 1/2 teaspoon "Chinese Five Spice" powder mix, 1 teaspoon sesame seeds, a grind of black pepper and a shot of soy sauce.

Put the tofu cubes on a greased baking dish, pour the marinade over and around them, and bake at 400F for 30 minutes or so, stirring occasionally and watching toward the end to ensure that the tofu doesn't scorch if the marinade all boils off.

Slice a medium sweet onion and a large green bell pepper into julienne strips and sautee them in peanut oil or coconut oil until they're well browned and starting to caramelize. Toss in the baked tofu, plate and serve.

Tastes like Italian sausage? Well, not exactly. But it tastes like Five Spice-scented tofu with peppers and onions, and that's not a bad thing at all.