Monday, February 4, 2008

Ginger Tofu and Chickpeas

This is what I had for dinner. And I can guarantee you that its flavour belies its homely appearance. This is a dish fit for kings. Kings who like ginger and red hot pepper flakes. My kind of kings.

This dish is an adaption of a recipe from Jane Brody's Good Food Book (the same Jane Brody who came up with the BBQed chicken that I featured in my previous post). While the bbq chicken has always been a staple in my immediate family, this recipe was one that I had never tried before. The original calls for chicken, but I'm not a big meat eater so I didn't have enough on hand to make it. Besides, the spices in this recipe seemed to call out for experimentation so I pulled out some boxes of tofu (vacuum sealed for freshness) and after leaving them to drain, ran off to class.

When I returned I browned the tofu, sauteed onions and minced ginger. I added to the spices, increasing the "pinch" of red pepper flakes and tossing in some lemon zest and 5 spice powder for good measure. The result was really good, hearty and filling, yet with a complex flavour that you don't grow tired of quickly, which is a good thing since I made about 7 cups of the stuff, enough to last me all week.

I highly recommend this for a mid-week dinner, or better yet, make it sunday evening and then you will have leftovers to take to work the next day. It goes wonderfuly with brown rice. Feel free to adjust the red pepper flakes back to a pinch if you aren't a fan of spicy food, but be warned, 1/4 cup of fresh ginger packs its own kind of punch.

Ginger Tofu and Chickpeas

Makes about 7 cups, 1245 calories for the whole recipe, or around 178 calories per cup.

Roughly 2 1/4 lbs extra firm tofu, or tempeh or a mix of both (I did a mix of both. Organic is best if you are tried to avoid genetically modified foods.)
2 cups of cooked chickpeas (if using canned, drain and rinse them)
Juice of two large lemons
1 tsp of grated lemon zest
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
1/2 tbsp olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
1/4 cup peeled, minced fresh ginger
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cardamom or crushed cardamom pods (I just crushed some pods in my makeshift mortar to release the flavour)
1 tsp ground coriander, or whole crushed seeds
1 tsp red hot pepper flakes (or to taste)
several dashes (about 1/4 tsp) five spice powder (optional-if you don't have it, don't use it)
2 cups of vegetable or chicken broth*

*Here is where you decide on whether you want a vegetarian recipe. I used chicken broth, but vegetable should be just as good. If your broth is high in sodium you probably wont need to add more salt.

Procedure:

1. You can skip this step if you are pressed for time, the tofu will just be a bit more fragile. If you are using tempeh you wont need to drain it. Take out your blocks of tofu and place them on several layers of paper towels on a cutting board or other flat surface. Cover with a couple more layers of paper towels. Place a heavy flat object on top (a heavy cookbook protected in a plastic bag, or whatever you have lying around). This will press the tofu, squeezing out excess moisture. Leave it to drain for at least 20 minutes and up to an hour or two. This dries out the tofu, making it easier to cook without falling apart into pieces.

2. Dice the tofu and/or tempeh into bite sized pieces. Chop the two large onions. Heat the 1/2 tbsp of oil at medium high heat in a large frying pan and carefully add the tofu. Brown lightly on both sides. The tofu will probably start to break up a bit when you turn it. Unless you are serving it to royalty, I wouldn't worry about trying to keep the pieces intact. Once the tofu is lightly browned, add the onion, salt (if using) and black pepper, lower the heat to medium/low and sautee until the onion is soft.

3. Add the peeled, minced ginger, the cumin, coriander, cardamom, red pepper flakes, lemon zest and five spice powder to the pan. Stir for a minute or two, then add the chickpeas, lemon juice and chicken or vegetable broth. Bring the pan to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer for 20-30 minutes or until the flavours have had time to meld together.

4. Serve heaped in a bowl with brown rice and a lemon wedge to squeeze over top.

2 comments:

KJ said...

I have never cooked with tofu. Another must try. This sounds like an interesting combination of flavours.

Lyra said...

I don't use tofu as much as I might, since I grew up on beans as a vegetarian source of protein, but I am trying to incorporate it more into my cooking, along with tempeh. This is a great way to start. Its easy to make and really delicious!