Monday, September 17, 2007

Tropical Dinner Part 1: Macadamia-Crusted Marinated Tofu

Last week, I went all out and made a snazzy tropical-ish dinner, complete with pre-dinner cocktail, three sides, and dessert. Every day this week I'll be posting each of the items from that menu. With the exception of the dessert, everything is really easy to make. And everything is absolutely delicious - I have to say that I was really surprised at how great everything came out!

First up is the main dish: macadamia-crusted marinated tofu. I got the idea for this from a recipe I ran across last week for macadamia-crusted yellowtail. I figured that if I marinated the tofu overnight, it would have enough flavor to stand up to the simple preparation of crusting with nuts and baking. I figured right - it came out way better than I thought it would, and was also insanely easy.

Macadamia-Crusted Marinated Tofu
(serves 4)

1 14 ounce package extra firm tofu
½ cup soy ginger sauce*
1 cup macadamia nuts

* I love Whole Foods’ 365 Organic Ginger Soy Sauce – it is really tasty and also incredibly versatile and convenient. If you can’t find it, you can make a similar version by simmering the following: soy sauce, freshly grated ginger, brown sugar, rice wine or cider vinegar, sesame oil, lemon juice, and cornstarch or tapioca starch. It will be probably be thinner than the pre-made stuff (which contains xanthan), but it will work fine as a marinade.


Day before serving:
Cut the tofu in half along the thickness and again in half lengthwise – you should have 4 pieces that are about 1 ½ inches wide x 4 inches long x 1 inch deep. Lay the tofu on a cutting board lined with a few paper towels and place a few more paper towels on top of the tofu. Place a pan on top of the tofu and place a heavy object (a brick, a few hardcover books, whatever you like – Harry Potter and Anthony Bourdain work very well) in the pan. Let the tofu sit for 1 hour to drain some of the water.

Why yes, that is Harry Potter atop my tofu
Pour the soy-ginger sauce in a 1 quart resealable plastic bag. Arrange the tofu pieces inside the bag and work the sauce onto all the pieces. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible and making sure that all the tofu is covered by the sauce. Refrigerate overnight.

Heat oven to 450° F.

Lightly toast the macadamia nuts. [You can do this either by arranging them in a single layer on a microwave-safe plate and heating on high for 30 seconds, shaking the plate, and heating on high for another 30 seconds, or by baking at 350° F for approximately 5 minutes until lightly golden brown and fragrant. Be careful in doing so, as macadamia nuts burn very easily.] Let the nuts cool.

Finely chop the nuts by pulsing them in a food processor or spice grinder. Be careful not to overprocess, as the nuts will turn into a paste. (This can be done up to a few days in advance; store the nuts in a resealable plastic bag in the refrigerator.)

Remove the marinated tofu from the refrigerator. Spread the ground nuts onto a plate. Coat each piece of tofu in the macadamia nuts, pressing firmly to ensure a thick, even crust.

Place the coated tofu pieces onto a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes and then flip each piece over. (Be careful when doing this – I find it easiest to do this by sliding tongs lengthwise under the piece of tofu rather than grabbing it by the sides and then flipping it over.) Bake for another 15-20 minutes, until the macadamia nut crust turns golden brown in spots.

Serve with coconut coriander rice, mango papaya salsa, and macadamia lime green beans.


John said...

I admit I'm not a tofu person. I'll eat it, but I won't go out of my way to. But it looks interesting, Roopa, so I may have to go and try this now...

M^2 said...

I'm with you John. But this was damn good.

jumpygrouch said...

i think the picture of the tofu in the bag is one of the best food pictures ever! i feel like i've made it already! i can't wait to try it - thanks for your blog!

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