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Tuesday, March 06, 2012

Tamarind Sesame Flavored Tofu with Vegetables

Tamarind Sesame Flavored Tofu with Vegetables

I had about quarter cup of the Ellu Molagu Podi (Sesame Black Pepper Spice Mix) saved in the fridge from the last batch that needed to be used up before the flavors started deteriorating. And that's how this tasty tofu dish came about for a quick meal.

I grew up with tamarind - it was ubiquitous in South Indian cuisine and my mom was liberal about using it in the staples like Sambar, Rasam, Pachadi and such. Of course, in those days it was in the form of Idicha Puli (Compacted Tamarind) which my mom used with care, and also loose clumps of tamarind - seed and all -simply soak it in hot water and extract the tamarind juice as thick or as thin as needed. Oftentimes, the thick first extract is reserved for sambar and the thinner second extract from the same batch of tamarind is used for rasam.

Well, enough with reminiscing... For this recipe, I used store-bought packaged Vietnamese Tamarind Cooking Sauce which is not the same as Tamarind Concentrate/Paste that is thicker and darker and sourer. This tamarind cooking sauce is lighter and is sometimes sold as Sour Soup Base Mix in Asian stores.

Ingredients
14 oz. Extra Firm Tofu

For the marinade:
4 Tbsp nước me chua Tamarind cooking sauce
1 tsp brown sugar
½ tsp salt (more if preferred; or use 1 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce)
2 Tbsp vegetable oil or sesame oil

For the seasoning/flavoring:
2 Tbsp Sesame Black Pepper Spice Mix
salt to taste
water as needed
1 Tbsp vegetable oil

Vegetables:
Italian green beans
Baby Lima beans
Zucchini
Carrots
Or any other favorite combination

Preparation
  1. Drain and pat dry the tofu to remove excess water; slice into 1-inch thick pieces and marinate for about 10-15 minutes while getting the vegetables ready
  2. Heat a pan as if for stir-frying, add the diced marinated tofu in a single layer (marinade and all), and pan-cook till browned to your liking, turning as often as needed to get even browning on all sides; remove from pan
  3. Heat a tablespoon of oil and saute the vegetables with the spice mix and salt as needed; add water, cover and cook till vegetables are cooked yet crunchy
  4. Top the vegetables with the tofu, garnish with cilantro, scallions, toasted sesame seeds, and serve warm

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