Okay– I admit that my fridge and pantry contain ingredients that are not “average.” But I still have to clean the sucker out and use food up before it goes bad. Times are tough, starving children in Africa, it’s a sin to waste food, or you’re just a cheap Yankee like me– any way you slice it, there’s always something that needs using up. This time it was some teriyaki baked tofu (don’t knock it, it’s great cold for breakfast) and some cilantro. I always have limes and lemons, and ginger, garlic and onions are also staples. So … I put on 1 cup of sushi rice to cook (nothing fancy, I just followed the package directions) and set to doing something with the rest of it.
Here’s how it went.
I piled all my “got to get rid of this” stuff on the counter with the other possible ingredients. The French call it mise en place. I call it “put it where you can’t forget to add it.” Or “ducks in a row.” Or “set the shit out in front of you.” Whatever.
Please to forgive the bad lighting and fuzzy exposure. It was 8:30 at night and we have crappy light in the kitchen. Anyway– soy sauce, Sriracha hot sauce, rice wine vinegar, cilantro, tofu, garlic, onion and ginger. And limes. You might think this is not very veggie-heavy except for the onion and garlic, and that it’s a problem in the depths of winter in May, but I will have you know that anything colored green counts as a vegetable. Lime jello? A vegetable.
Next, there was choppage of red onion, approximately 1/3 cup. I also decided how much ginger and garlic I wanted– one peeled chunk about 1 inch around and two cloves of garlic.
Next, I sauteed the onion in some neutral oil (I used cold-pressed grapeseed) over medium high heat until it was soft. At that point, I added the ginger and garlic.
Soft red onions, chopped garlic and ginger? Mmmm. Layers of flavor. Repitan se: Layers of flavor. Toss the ginger and garlic (aka “aromatics”) over medium low heat with the onion until they are fragrant.
Before you add the ginger and garlic, but while the onion’s still cooking, chop your baked tofu into smallish cubes. I really can’t extol the virtues of baked tofu enough. It’s firm and has a totally different texture from regular tofu. It usually comes in flavors like lemon pepper or teriyaki. Me? I love the teriyaki flavor, and not just because the BH says my favorite food group is salt. So– cubed tofu. Mmm. Really.
Again. I need to get brighter lights in the kitchen, or get more serious about lighting the kitchen for nighttime food blogging action shots.
Add the tofu to the frying pan, stirring it gently over low heat with the other ingredients to make sure the layers of flavor amalgamate.
Mmm. Brown food. Well, brown and purple.
Your sushi rice has been cooking while you’ve been playing with all your brown food. When the rice is done, you can turn it off and let it sit with the lid on while you prepare color for the meal.
Chop a good handful of cilantro and quarter a lime. It’s up to you if you want to be a food design dork and put them in a glass bowl on your table with all the condiments artfully displayed behind them.
That fancy shmancy camera angle is thanks to a highly specialized technique called tilting your camera. Oooh. I know! Gourmet magazine, here I come.
Notice the little candles? Those are Oxo Candelas– I bought them for the BH last year for his birthday. He’s a design geek.
For the purposes of food porn shots, put your rice and your tofu saute side by side in a large glass bowl.
Now here’s the very, very, very bestest part of all. Remember how your mother used to say “Don’t play with your food?” Ptooey. Play with your food all you want. Sprinkle cilantro. Drizzle soy sauce and rice wine vinegar. Dot with Sriracha. Squeeze as much lime as you want all over. You know why? It’s your food and you can season it however you want. (And … erm … layers of flavor? Yeah. That.)
Call it mudpies, call it the prettiest edible confetti you’ve ever seen in your life, call it Hortense. Just don’t forget to call it dinner.
Total time: 30 minutes. 2 servings for one hungry food blogger who missed lunch. 3 for people who take human bites.
Next up in our ongoing adventures in Layers of Flavor: cooking from the incredibly excellent cookbook Claudia Roden’s The Food of Italy— I cook a recipe, take pictures and blog about it, you comment, and I send the book to a randomly-drawn winner. You cook, you photograph, you post, you continue the trend. (Yes, Jenn, Hen, I’m actually, finally, finally going to do it! I actually did it twice and lost the photos both times.)
Bon Appetit, y’all.