It is a wonderful summertime dish. Cool and refreshing with a little zing!
I picked up Jack Bishop’s A Year in a Vegetarian Kitchen from the local library 3 weeks ago and haven’t really had a chance to explore it as much as I would have liked. It is due in a couple of days and of course there is a hold on it.
We have been so busy over the last couple of weeks that we have been cooking old standbys. You know how it goes, too strapped for time and energy to try anything new.
Anyway, this was the perfect meal to get me back in the saddle! (I guess the Calgary Stampede is influencing my choice of words). No matter. I can do no wrong after this meal – bad pun or not.
It took over an hour to prepare, because Bishop recommends that you salt, press and drain the sliced and peeled cucumbers for one hour. Cucumbers are quite watery, so it seemed like the right thing to do. And what do you know, I had to wipe cucumber juice off the counter a couple of times. I didn’t have any plain rice vinegar, so I substituted sushi vinegar and left out the sugar (sushi vinegar is sweet enough as it is). It worked just fine.
One more thing. It may seem like the glaze will never boil down, but then, voila, you are left with perfectly browned and glazed tofu.
Just wait until you taste it!
Pineapple-Glazed Tofu with Spicy Cucumber Salad
1 1/2 to 2 long english cucumbers, peeled, halved lengthwise, and seeded.
1 tablespoon of Kosher salt (I didn’t have any, so I used pickling salt)
1/2 cup rice vinegar (you can use sushi vinegar and leave out the sugar)
2 tablespoons sugar
1/2 cup red onion, finely diced
1 small fresh hot red Thai chili
1 heaping tablespoon of cilantro, finely chopped
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 pound of firm tofu, cut in half and then each half sliced into four slabs and then pressed and blotted dry
2/3 cup of pineapple juice
1 tablespoon of fresh lime juice
1/4 cup of salted peanuts, finely chopped
Enough brown rice noodles to make you both happy, cooked, rinsed, and tossed with a few drops of oil to prevent sticking.
First the salad:
- Toss the cucumbers and salt in a colander and apply two sandwich size Ziploc bag full of water to the top to help draining. Set aside for 1 hour.
- While the cucumbers are draining, bring the vinegar and sugar to boil over medium heat. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cook until reduced to 1/4 cup. This takes about 5 minutes or so.
- Pour the dressing straight from the stove into a large bowl and add the onion and chili.
- When the cucumber has finished draining, rinse off the salt and blot dry with paper towels. Add to the bowl and top with cilantro.
- Stir well to mix.
Now the tofu:
- Heat the oil in a large non-stick skillet (I used my cast iron pan).
- Add the tofu in a single layer and cook until golden brown – about 7 minutes. Turn the tofu and cook about 5 minutes.
- Add the pineapple juice, lime juice and a dash of salt.
- Cook, turning the tofu once until the liquid has evaporated. This takes about 5 minutes.
- Spoon enough brown rice noodles for one person on a plate, top with cucumber salad, tofu and garnish with peanuts.
- We found the dish served two of us, with enough for seconds.