Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Bahn mi bowl

I was in the mood for a good bahn mi last night, but I sometimes get tired of buying baguettes because it's hard to eat all that bread before it gets hard (the perils of living in Montreal alone). So, I decided to make a bahn mi bowl, inspired by the dragon bowls at Aux Vivres. The bowl has wheat noodles, lettuce, baked tofu, pickled carrots and radishes, and a dressing made out of tofu marinade and veganaise whipped together. I already had the pickled veggies and baked tofu made, so this was super fast to put together.

The baked tofu is part of my ongoing efforts to figure out a recipe for Tofu Kan, an Ithaca specialty that I've been missing since moving here. I'm already starting to forget exactly what it tastes like so it's hard to say how dead on this iteration was flavor wise, but the texture is quite close and the flavor was delish.

In case there are any other frustrated Ithaca ex-pats out there, here's how I made it.

Soy sauce
Lime juice
Chopped ginger
Dash of liquid smoke
Garlic/cilantro bullion cube thing (it's rather oily, so I didn't add any other oil)
Enough hot water to dissolve the cube and cover the tofu slices

(Unfortunately I can't really tell you which of these ingredients are essential, and I definitely can't tell you the amounts. I'm more of a dump-stuff-in-and-taste-as-you-go kind of cook, which makes it hard to reproduce things sometimes).

Drain and press the tofu, and then marinate it for a few hours (I left mine overnight in the fridge this time). Take the slices out of the marinade and bake them on a cookie sheet at 350 F for about 40 minutes, flipping them once. They should start to shrink up and brown on the outside. You definitely don't want to bake them in the marinade, I've tried that before and the texture just doesn't come out right. Then, after taking them out of the oven put the slices back in the dish with the marinade to cool down. It finally dawned on me that Tofu Kan is sold packaged in some sort of marinade/liquid, and this seems to be the final trick to really getting the baked tofu to be nice and flavorful.

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