Buffalo Tofu

Tofu brings out strong feelings in people. I've met people that love it, and think it can absorb any flavor, becoming an ideal replacement for meat. On the other hand, I have met folks that think tofu is the grossest thing in the world, and can't fathom why anyone would want to eat it. I tend to fall in the middle; I've made and enjoyed a few tofu dishes, but a couple of experiences at restaurants haven't turned out so good. But I still believe in tofu!



When push comes to shove, tofu is easy to work with. My experience has all been with firm tofu (silken is liquidy and works in smoothies), which just requires slicing and cooking. But you must cook it all the way through. The bad experience I am referring to was due to the fact the tofu tasted like a soggy, flavorless sponge. I hesitated at the thought of tasting it for a few years after that. But this sponginess can be avoided, which I'll cover in a few minutes.

A few months ago I dipped my toes in the tofu waters with Tofu Meatballs, and was impressed at the flavor.  I was waltzing around the grocery one evening when a sale sign caught my eye (don't ever let anyone tell you marketing doesn't work!). I knew I had to incorporate it into dinner. The inspiration for the mix tonight came from my Buffalo Chicken Pasta, which was muy fantastico. I have found myself lately to be quite obsessed with buffalo sauce. And don't even get me started on that buffalo chicken dip that Publix carries...I can't get near it. It's too good.

Firm tofu comes in a big ol' hunk. I cut most of the container into a grid shape, making little strips. I only used about 2/3 - 3/4 of the container, so I popped the rest in a tupperware and placed it in the fridge. I drained the water out of the package and prepared my skillet.



I added some coconut oil and hot sauce to make my own buffalo sauce. After all, buffalo sauce is really just hot sauce and butter, and we all know coconut oil is better for you. Plus, it's vegan. I had the pan heated to medium-high and added in the tofu.



Here is where I wanted to make sure I proceeded correctly, so I hopped to a few different sites on my phone to see what the average cooking time is for tofu. I know how to cook meat, and I know how to tell it is done. But tofu is not going to change color like chicken does. It was during this search that I discovered some people like to drain the tofu even further than I did by pressing liquid out. I'll keep that in mind for next time.

At any rate, the cook time seemed to be between 5-8 minutes. I just kept an eye on it while it cooked, then after about 5 minutes, flipped the pieces. As you can see between the picture above and the one below, the texture changed once the tofu was cooked. The sauce soaked into the tofu, and the appearance of the cooked side was more dry looking than above.



At this point, I removed the tofu and got started on the creamy sauce part. The tofu soaked up most of the coconut oil mixture I cooked in, so I added a little more coconut oil and added some flour. I used a fork (a whisk is a great choice here as well) to split up any flour chunks and browned the flour until it was lightly golden. Of course, the hot sauce colored it slightly, but I just let the mixture darken a little bit from the original color when the flour was first added.



I added in the milk and heavy cream and continued simmering for 2-3 minutes, until I had a thick sauce. Then I stirred in the hot sauce and seasonings, using a bit less hot sauce than I had in the chicken version. I knew the tofu had soaked up a lot of the flavor, so I didn't want it to be overpoweringly buffalo. I mean, if that is possible.



Hello, tofu! I think the one of the most important curiosities regarding tofu is not just how it tastes, but also how the texture feels. Well, let's just go over that now. This pan-fried version was soft, but not as sponge-like as I had described my prior experience. I liked the more subtle buffalo flavor as I used less hot sauce this time around; it gives the eater more control over the hotness while still providing that buffalo kick I love. Tofu wins again.

I have been thinking more about it's use, and am considering trying it mixed with ricotta or cottage cheese in Tiropitas or a ravioli. It doesn't melt like cheese, but does crumble nicely.

Buffalo Tofu Recipe

Ingredients:

3/4 package of firm tofu (about 10 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons coconut oil
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/4 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup hot sauce (Crystal's)
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Instructions:

In a large skillet, heat some olive oil over medium heat.  Slice chicken and season with salt and pepper, then toss in the skillet and cook for 6-8 minutes, until slightly browned.  Remove chicken, the add the butter and cook until melted.  Add the flour and whisk, cooking until the mixture is slightly browned and it is a thick consistency.  Pour in the milk and cream and whisk for a few minutes, until a thick sauce is formed.  Stir in the hot sauce and crushed red pepper to finish the sauce, then add the chicken back to the pan.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. 

No comments:

Post a Comment

Pin It button on image hover