Tofu, Edamame & Soju

tofuWaywaywaywaywaiiit. Stop. Seriously. I know what you’re doing. I can see you. I can’t. But I know what you’re doing. You’re turning your nose. The thought of tofu for dinner, you’re thinking, is unacceptable.

I was there once, too. But in the past few months, I have been experimenting with tofu, trying to truly grow to like it. So when I read Ruth Reichl’s description of this warm tofu with spicy dipping sauce — “a beautiful dish, which takes ten minutes, costs very little, and is so utterly delicious” —  in this month’s Gourmet, I had to try it. 

This is by far the easiest easiest easiest (my friends who hate to cook are you listening?) method of preparing tofu I have encountered. The recipe calls for simmering the tofu in water, making a sauce and pouring the sauce over the tofu. And it is delicious. Truly. I think you will be pleased. 

tofu

PS: Though this rectangular plate is quite pretty, I think bowls are a more appropriate serving dish. 

Making the sauce:
sauce prep

toasted sesame seeds

scallions

On the side? Way back in the day, I worked at a catering company in Philadelphia. At nearly every party I worked, ‘peking duck rolls’ served straight from a bamboo steamer were passed with a soy dipping sauce … everyone raved. Of course, I went to Chinatown immediately following the first party I worked to purchase one of these three-tiered bamboo steamers. I must admit, I have hardly used it since, but it is a great gadget to have on hand even so. It steamed my edamame tonight in under five minutes. If you have one, place it right into a wok filled with just enough water to reach below the first tier. Bring the water to a boil and then place edamame pods into one of the tiers. Cover and steam until done. Sprinkle with a nice sea salt according to taste.

edamame

steaming edamame

edamame with nice salt

What to drink. What to drink. My day started with soju and has ended with soju. Soju’s “neutral flavor,” according to Gourmet, makes it a great mixer and “a favored alcoholic beverage in Korea.” I can’t really tell you how it tastes, only that it tasted damn good in the bloody Mary I had this morning at The Ramos House Cafe and damn good in the beverage I am drinking now — a grapefruit soju cocktail. If you can’t find soju, any vodka will make a fine substitute. 

grapefruit soju cocktail

To Make This Feast:

Step One: Pepare Cocktails

Grapefruit Soju Cocktails
Adapted from Gourmet
Makes 10 drinks (according to Gourmet), 5 drinks (according to Ali)

1 tablespoon superfine sugar
1 quart (4 cups) fresh-squeezed (or not) grapefruit juice
1 cup soju (sometimes called sochu), sake or vodka, chilled
Club soda or seltzer water chilled

1. Stir the sugar and 1/8 teaspoon salt into the juice and stir to dissolve. Stir in soju and add sugar to taste.

2. Pour into ice-filled glasses and top with a splash of club soda.

Gourmet’s note: Grapefruit mixture without soju can be made four hours ahead and chilled. Add soju to mixture just before serving.

Step Two: Prepare Tofu

Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce
Adapted from Gourmet
Serves 8 (as part of a Korean Meal according to Gourmet), 2 (as a main dish according to Ali — This recipe yields enough sauce for two, but I would double the amount of tofu if serving this as a main dish for 2.)

1 (14- to 18-oz) package firm tofu Note: The original recipe calls for soft (not silken) tofu. I have now made this recipe with both soft and firm tofu, and I prefer the firm tofu — the soft was very hard to eat with chopsticks.
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
¼ cup chopped scallion
2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted and crushed with side of a heavy knife (I minced the seeds with some garlic and scallions, which helped keep the seeds from flying off the cutting board.)
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon coarse Korean hot red-pepper flakes (crushed red pepper flakes)
1/2 teaspoon sugar

1. Rinse tofu, then cover with cold water in a medium saucepan. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then keep warm, covered, over very low heat.

2. Meanwhile, mince and mash garlic to a paste with a pinch of salt. Stir together with remaining ingredients.

3. Just before serving, carefully lift tofu from saucepan with a large spatula and drain on paper towels. Gently pat dry, then transfer to a small plate. Spoon some sauce over tofu and serve warm. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

Notes: Sauce can be made 1 day ahead and chilled. Bring to room temperature before using. Tofu can be kept warm up to 4 hours.

Last Step: Steam Edamame

Edamame in pods
Nice sea salt

1. Steam pods until done, about five minutes. Sprinkle with nice salt. Serve. Yum.

44 Comments

  1. I actually really like tofu, so this is right up my alley! Oh, and I ordered my rebel last weekend, now I’m very impatiently awaiting its arrival :)

    Reply
  2. MMMMMMM…Alexandra!! I was also like you before I met tofu!!! But I can not convince my husband yet!!! Your dish looks awesome!!! MMMMMM……Ps. Thanks for this new information of Soju!!!!

    Reply
  3. hmmm, i’m so glad you commented b/c google reader hadn’t updated you :) i’m intrigued by this boiling tofu… i’ve been inclined just to roast it. but it doesn’t fill me up :( the edamame would solve that problem, but that’s alot of soy! anywho, i’ll have to give this ashot :)

    Reply
  4. I’m one of those people that is scared of tofu. I can’t say that I don’t like it because I’ve never really had it. I’m going to give it a shot! I have all the ingredients besides the tofu so I might as well give it a go. Maybe this recipe will convert me to a tofu lover. We’ll see. Your pictures are glorious!

    Reply
  5. I don’t know what you’re talking about. I LOVE tofu when cooked properly (with a sweet-hot sauce of course) and it makes a fantastic dinner :) So yeah, that looks PERfect! I’ll have something else in place of the soju though :P

    Reply
  6. Well, Alexandra, you started this post off correctly. I was turning my nose up, because I’ve tried tofu several times and can’t get to like it. The sauce looks good though, and based on your recommendation, I may just try it. My hubby, though, is another story.

    Reply
  7. I have no objection to tofu for dinner. I’ve never heard of cooking it in water before, but I am intrigued. It looks delicious in the photos.

    The grapefruit and soju drink sounds amazing–right up my alley.

    Reply
  8. Great dish Ali. I’ve definitely warmed up to tofu since becoming addicted to Thai food.

    Also… I have to make it down to Cafe Mimosa. The Kobe beef burger photo just stopped me in my tracks. It’s about a 15 minute drive from my work in Irvine, so at some point I’ll take a little longer lunch and try to get down there to try his lovely food. Mimosa has great reviews too! No surprise to you, I’m sure.

    Reply
  9. Glad to see the new site! I don’t mind tofu dishes, but have done very little cooking with it at home. This looks like the perfect first dish to take a stab at!

    Reply
  10. Growing up, i have had this all my life….it is yummy….but never had the Soju grapefruit cocktail. Your blog ia awesome….now that I know you drink Soju….you rock even more. Having grown up in Philly….this makes me relate to the dishes even more.

    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hey Jim —

      They are right there in the recipe under “Warm Tofu with Spicy Garlic Sauce.” But here you go in case it’s not showing up for whatever reason:

      1 teaspoon chopped garlic
      ¼ cup chopped scallion
      2 teaspoons sesame seeds, toasted and crushed with side of a heavy knife (I minced the seeds with some garlic and scallions, which helped keep the seeds from flying off the cutting board.)
      3 tablespoons soy sauce
      1 tablespoon Asian sesame oil
      1 teaspoon coarse Korean hot red-pepper flakes (crushed red pepper flakes)
      1/2 teaspoon sugar

      Reply
  11. I adore tofu, always have from first trying it. It is not something I would ever turn my nose on. The recipe looks so very lovely and inviting. It has been a long while since I had tofu. I think I had barbecued tofu when last I had it in Cambridge, MA.

    I so missed the days of purchasing for myself and being true to my body. So very weak these days, essential nourishment is not readily available. There is eating and there is feasting. I don’t ever make sense, I am sorry to say.

    Reply
  12. Looks beautiful – it could be the recipe to get me over the line with tofu. I am tofu neutral – neither love it nor hate it. I’d like to love it! Thanks for the recipe.

    Reply
  13. Hi Alexandra — I saw this recipe on Gojee’s top three picks in my email this morning and have been anticipating it all day. First off I was planning on making it next weekend given my time constraints, but by about 5:00 pm I couldn’t resist any longer and hit the grocery store for ingredients. My belly is full now (full 14 oz tofu consumed — ditto for my wife)…. That was the best tofu recipe I’ve ever had! We have some sauce left over as I made a double batch and we’ll be simmering some more tofu over the next few days to finish up the remaining sauce….

    Thanks so much for such a scrumptious recipe!!!

    Johnny

    Reply
    • Johnny — I am so glad to hear this! I know, the sauce is so good, and I, too, find myself finding ways to fit more tofu into my weekly meal rotation just to finish up the sauce. Thanks so much for writing in! I love that this recipe has gotten me to make tofu a staple in my diet.

      Reply
  14. OMG! I just made this for dinner and loved it! It’s so quick and easy for a weeknight meal. This is definitely going in my regular rotation of meals. Thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  15. By the way I love the rectangular plate. I want one exactly like this. Off course your photography and the recipe rock too but the plate is….gorgeous ! :)

    Reply
    • Maria — I found it in Chinatown in Philadelphia for about $3. I love it, too. Of course my mom ruined my fun by sending me an article talking about the lead in paint in many Chinatown dishes, but, I use it even so. Hope you try the tofu. It’s one of my favorites.

      Reply
  16. Hey there! I originally found your recipe on pinterest and finally tried it tonight. My husband is a very picky tofu eater and we both loved it. I served it with bok choy and made mango brûlée for dessert. I will definitely be making this again, thank you!

    Reply
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  19. The first tofu recipe I ever tried, can’t get enough. Now I cube up the tofu about soup size and marinate in the sauce in a ziploc bag in the fridge, easy addition to weekly dinners. Thanks for the taste.

    Reply
  20. You’ve convinced me to try tofu, but not to have “soy with a side of soy” for dinner. How else would you serve this? Over pasta/with shrimp/with a vegetable?

    Reply

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