Friday, September 16, 2011

My $5 Challenge Value Meal - Sesame Tofu with Tamari Ginger Sauce

Most of you know my food philosophy and my passion for organizations like Slow Food, so it may come as no surprise that tomorrow, September 17th I'm taking Slow Food's $5 Challenge. The challenge encourages you to cook a fresh and healthy meal for five dollars or less per person. The meal can be a meal with your family or friends or a potluck. The more the merrier because it helps to spread the word. I'll be making this tasty and budget-friendly dish for friends who are coming for dinner tomorrow night. Tofu, rice, carrots and peas are inexpensive and here they come together and make a taste-treat dinner. 

Join me and the thousands of others around the country and take the $5 Challenge. Slow Food is the backlash to the fast food industry. Its mission is about good, clean and fair. GOOD refers to taste and quality. CLEAN refers to where food comes from – a healthy food system. FAIR refers to proper and just compensation for all those that work in the food chain. GOOD, CLEAN AND FAIR should all come together. 

Slow Food is about more than food, its about recapturing the food system. Slow Food does a lot to help small food producers and artisans compete in the global marketplace without having to compromise their scale and quality. It's also very big on the notion of conviviality, which distinguishes it from other food organizations. I could say so much more ... please pledge to take the challenge and share your $5 story.

Sesame Tofu with Tamari Ginger Sauce 

Tofu’s lack of any distinguishable flavor allows for the addition of intense tasting enhancements like this Tamari Ginger Sauce. The outstanding properties of this dish are not only the delicious sauce but also the combination of my favorite textures; crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. 

Helpful to know: Tamari Ginger Sauce can be prepared in advance and heated just before tossing tofu. Before measuring out the honey, coat the inside of the tablespoon with oil; the honey will slide right out providing a perfect measure. Plan accordingly; the tofu needs to drain of excess water for 30 minutes or longer. To drain, place tofu on a plate; top tofu with a plate, and top the plate with a cast iron skillet or a weighted casserole dish, pan or heavy platter. Cook the carrots while the tofu is cooking.

Tamari Ginger Sauce

3 tablespoons honey
⅛ cup tamari
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
1 tablespoon brown rice vinegar
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon powdered ginger
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes

In a medium saucepan, combine all ingredients and mix until well blended. While tofu is cooking heat sauce over moderate heat.

Sesame Tofu

One 14-ounce package extra firm tofu, drained of excess water
About ¼ cup all-purpose flour
¼ cup or more canola oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
½ cup frozen peas, thawed
1 cup carrots julienned, cooked until fork tender
¼ cup roasted and salted peanuts

Cut tofu block into 6 slices, cut each slice in half, cut each half on the diagonal to form a triangle, you’ll end up with 24 triangles. Place triangles in a shallow rimmed vessel. Evenly distribute flour over tofu, gently covering all surfaces; a flour sifter works great! Heat oil in a sauté pan over moderately high heat; add tofu and cook in batches until golden brown on all surfaces. Transfer tofu to a shallow serving dish to accommodate and gently toss with Tamari Ginger Sauce. Top with toasted sesame seeds, peas and cooked carrots.  Serve immediately. Yield: 4 servings.