Tag Archives: tofu

Peppers stuffed with spaghetti? This one I just made up.

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We had three green bell peppers that we needed to use up. So at the grocery store, I thought about making pasta with peppers in the sauce. Then I thought, what about stuffing the peppers with the pasta instead? The pasta that caught my eye was really cool. It’s like spaghettaroni, a long hollow tube.

This dish is fairly healthful and quite simple to make. Just clean and boil the peppers, and boil the pasta. I also finely chopped half an onion, another half pepper, and a carrot (cleaned out the crisper) and cooked these in a cast iron. Then I mixed a package of soft tofu with a quarter pound of ricotta cheese and added an herb that smelled Italian (it was unlabeled in a bag from the bulk section). When I’ve served dishes (lasagna, baked spaghetti, etc) with this tofu/cheese mixture, people never guess it’s tofu and not all ricotta cheese. So it saves a lot of calories and tastes great too.

After I drained the pasta, I added it to the tofu/cheese mixture, then included the cooked onion/pepper/carrot.

I messily overfilled the peppers with this pasta mixture.

As usual, I made too much of the stuffing, so I just put the extras all around the sides of the peppers. I topped it all with a jar of pasta sauce and used my new rotary grater to put a bit of shredded Asiago on top. Then I baked it for about half an hour.

After dinner, I was stuffed!

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Jalapeño Everything?

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Dinner was banh mi from Nhu Lan. These are the best banh mi outside of Vietnam (and maybe even including Vietnam. I’ll have to go there to find out).

Banh mi is a Vietnamese sandwich served on French bread. The vegetarian options at Nhu Lan are ginger tofu, lemongrass tofu, and veggie classic (my favorite).

My husband wanted the ginger tofu:

And I got a veggie classic + a cantaloupe avocado bubble tea:

I’m not completely sure what is on the veggie classic, but like the other sandwiches, it includes slightly pickled cucumber, carrots, taro (I think), cilantro, and jalapeño. That is, if you say yes when the lady taking the order asks, “Jalapeño Everything?”

This restaurant is so delicious and so cheap. All the bread is made in-house, and it’s crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. The vegetables are flavor packed, and the Vietnamese mayo is just right. Each sandwich is $3.50. The bubble teas are also $3.50 each.

It’s also super small- the ordering/eating/waiting area is approximately 8 feet by 12 feet. Yet there were 16 people there when I was ordering these sandwiches. The only downside is that there have been a couple of times when I wanted to go, but had to skip it because it was so packed, I couldn’t get in the door.

I love taking out-of-town guests there, especially ones who do not generally like trying new foods. Everyone who has gone has been impressed by the quality and taste of the sandwiches.

So next time you’re in Chicago, stop by Nhu Lan. Maybe I’ll see you there.

Yuba Delight

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It was my intent to have a Japanese inspired vegan feast.

But not everything I assembled ended up making it into the dinner. The dried rice cakes will have to wait until next time. The bubble tea I planned to make turned into serving fresh blueberries, and apparently you don’t prepare tapioca pearls by boiling them unless you intend to make a gummy shapeless mess. I also didn’t use the rice vinegar.

So I’ll start with the star of the show- Yuba Rolls! Here are instructions you can use to make them yourself, but I can’t help you if you can’t find the yuba.

First, cut the carrots and shred the shittakes, then fry them together until only partly softened.

Then fry green beans for just a few minutes. Lay out a yuba sheet. If they stick together or are hard, rinse them under water, then pat them dry. Mix some maple syrup with soy sauce and water. Brush a little of this onto the yuba. Put the green beans and carrots next to each other and roll it up.

Do the same thing, but put the first rolled up yuba roll inside this second roll! Then do that again, with this second larger roll going into the third roll! Then, roll the third roll into the fourth along with the green beans and carrots every time.

There were 8 sheets in my yuba pack, so I used 4 sheets for each final roll.

Then fry them for about 5 minutes per side like a grilled burrito. After that, put a little water in the pan and cover it to steam them. Keep that up until the water is gone.

Serve on a fancy plate with a basil leaf.

While I was preparing these, I also made a stir fry by combining finely chopped sweet onion with quartered green Thai eggplant (the little round ones). Add some hot chili oil. I fried it for a few minutes then covered it and forgot about it while working on the yuba rolls. Once it was almost done, I added tofu. My plan was to add the, what I thought at the store was bok choy, but was actually mustard greens.

I cooked the mustard greens separately in a cast iron in order to cook them down enough to fit with the eggplant/tofu. It didn’t seem like it would fit, so I added hoison sauce and tamarind paste to it.

I added basil to the tofu/eggplant.

I served it all on fancy plates with a side of blueberries.

It all turned out better than expected, and that’s even with the colds my husband and I have that makes it difficult for us to taste much.

The yuba wasn’t salty at all! It barely had any flavor, but it was really easy to work with. Much easier than spring roll wrappers, and about as easy as a large flour tortilla. I would definitely make yuba rolls again!

Tofu in Japan

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In the February 2010 issue of Bon Appetit, I read an article called Kyoto’s Tofu Obsession. This article stuck with me. I have never traveled anywhere on the continent of Asia, but I think I have found the first place that I want to go. I like tofu. I am not crazy about tofu, but I eat it every couple of weeks. The tofu in Kyoto is handmade daily, has been perfected over centuries and is nothing like the tofu anywhere else. Tofu making there is an art form. The article works to break the stereotype of tofu eaters as skinny, liberal hippies, and states that tofu is beloved by construction workers and truck drivers. This I gotta see.

There are several varieties of tofu in Kyoto. I liken it to varietals of wine. Each seems subtly different from the next, but they are all recognizable as the same basic thing.

Everything about the area seems calm, industrious, and full of flavors, smells and sights.

The types of tofu and styles of preparation is immense, and reminds me a little bit of Forrest Gump’s friend Bubba describing the ways to prepare shrimp. Yudofu, boiled tofu, and yuba, or tofu skin, are particularly interesting to me.

I tried yuba once at the legendary Chicago brunch spot, M Henry. To me, it just tasted salty.

But since I can’t get to Japan any time soon, I will attempt (in a very rudimentary and limited way) to bring it to my kitchen.

My husband and I went to an Asian market, and I asked a clerk, “Do you carry yuba?” He replied, “You mean soba?” I said, “No, yuba. Tofu skin” He said, “Yes, we carry it soft or hard. Which kind would you like?” Me, “I’m not sure….” Him, “Well, which kind do you cook?” I replied, “I don’t, or haven’t.” He sort of rolled his eyes, and I ended up with the soft kind that was in the freezer. I’m glad I did, because that’s exactly what is called for in the recipe Yuba Rolls in newest issue (December 2011) of Vegetarian Times that just came to my door. I had no recipe or idea in mind when I bought it, but now I will try a modification of this one.

My husband selected some fried tofu, Thai green eggplant (yum!), and bok choy, and I picked out some rice noodles. So it will be. Stir fry and yuba rolls. Hopefully we can someday try a much better version of this recipe in Japan.