Page 1: Spice-Seared Tofu With Avocado, Beets & Cucumbers
CAPSULE REPORT: Tofu can be an ingredient in a delicious gourmet dinner. Here’s a three-course dinner crafted by Craig Koketsu, Executive Chef of Park Avenue Spring and Quality Meats in New York City. This is Page 1 of a three-page article. Click on the black recipe links below to visit other pages.
April is National Soy Foods Month. Those who think that tofu is just for stir-frys can “think outside the white block,” as Chef Craig Koketsu did, and develop some exciting recipes like the ones below. These luscious winners can be enjoyed any month of the year. Chef Koketsu experimented tofu in three firmness levels to create a main dish, entrée and dessert. Using House Foods Organic Tofu (considered by chefs we have spoken to to be the highest quality), he created:
This fresh, crisp salad uses a “steak” of firm tofu that is seared with a alongside an unexpected pairing of spicy avocado purée and roasted beets. The photo shows the tofu “steak” cut into strips; but if you’d rather serve a “steak and salad” concept, leave the tofu steak whole. This was so good, we couldn’t wait to make it again. The spicy avocado purée (i.e., guacamole) is an inspired touch. Serves 4 to 6.
1 pack medium firm tofu, drained
and wrapped in two layers of paper towels
2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon coarse (kosher) salt
2 tablespoons fennel seed
2 tablespoons coriander seed
1 tablespoon cumin seed
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs)
1 egg, beaten with 2 teaspoons salt
¼ cup Wondra flour
¼ cup canola or vegetable oil
4 baby chioggia beets,* roasted, peeled and cut into quarters
1 Japanese cucumber, sliced into 3/16” thick rounds
Avocado purée (see recipe below)
Kabosu vinaigrette (see recipe below)
*Chioggia (key-YO-jah) beets are an Italian heirloom beet with rings of alternating color: white plus either red, pink or purple, depending on the variety. They are also called bull’s eye beets. They have a sweet, peppery flavor. If you can’t find them, use the most interesting beets available. Photo courtesy of GoldenDoveGallery.org, where you can purchase the seeds.
Cut tofu into 4 or 6 even rectangles. Place rectangles on a plate lined with two layers of paper towels.
Evenly distribute chopped garlic on the top side of the tofu rectangles. Sprinkle coarse salt over garlic then wrap with plastic and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Scrape off garlic and salt from tofu and pat dry with paper towels.
In a blender, combine fennel, coriander, cumin and salt. Blend until spices are coarsely ground. Mix spices with panko. Bread only the marinated side of the tofu by dipping it first into the Wondra flour, then the egg, then finally the spiced panko.
Heat a large sauté pan over medium heat, add canola oil and sauté tofu crust-side-down until golden brown. Carefully flip tofu pieces and sauté an additional minute. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels.
To plate: Place tofu pieces crust-side-down and cut into 5 equal-sized pieces. On a plate, smear a couple tablespoons of the avocado purée in an arc. Make an artistic arrangement of the beets and cucumbers, then place the tofu pieces on top. Dress entire dish with kabosu vinaigrette and garnish with cilantro leaves.
½ jalapeño, with seeds
1 scallion, chopped
2 tablespoons chives, chopped
½ cup cilantro, chopped
¼ teaspoon vitamin C powder*
Salt and pinch sugar to taste
*Vitamin C powder can be purchased at vitamin shops. It is used instead of lime juice to keep the avocado puree from darkening. Lime juice would add unwanted liquid to the recipe.
Blend all ingredients at high speed in a blender until chives and cilantro are completely puréed.
Refrigerate immediately until ready to plate.
Kabosu Vinaigrette Kabosu is a Japanese citrus fruit closely related to the yuzu in flavor. It has a lime green exterior and lemon yellow flesh; the juice has the acidity of lemon but not a lemony flavor.
3 tablespoons kabosu juice
(substitute fresh lime juice)