Ahh...tofu. The official icon of vegetarian eating. Leaving meat-eaters everywhere to run and hide at the mention of it. Which is really too bad. Sure tofu is basically tasteless when not seasoned properly, but umm, so isn't chicken. And that is actually a GOOD thing. Tofu's porous qualities make it great for marinading and for dishes where you really want the spices to stand out. Like this one. It is spicy, and when cooked to a golden brown, leaves a crunchy exterior with a softer inside. And really, what more could you ask for?
Salt & Pepper Tofu
adapted from Secrets of the Red Lantern . serves 2
1 package extra-firm tofu (12-16 oz), drained
1 jalapeño pepper, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 t fresh ginger, peeled and minced
1 T salt
1 t pepper
1 t sugar
1/2 t five-spice powder
2 T olive oil*
4 scallions, chopped
With a sharp knife, cut tofu, lengthwise into thirds. Place side-by-side on an absorbent towel and cover with an additional towel. Place a heavy pot on top of the towels (the heavier the better, as you are trying to extract as much water as possible from the tofu) and let sit 20-30 minutes. Cut tofu into 1" cubes.
In a large bowl, combine jalapeño, garlic, ginger, salt, pepper, sugar and five-spice powder. Stir well and add tofu cubes. Toss until tofu cubes are well coated on all sides. In a large skillet, heat oil and add tofu (and spices). Cook on medium-low heat, 8 minutes, turning cubes every 1-2 minutes. Add scallions and cook an additional 2 minutes, until tofu is golden brown.
* reader lizkat, uses peanut oil with great success