Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Iron Chef Amblus

Cooking is something I enjoy and I like to think I'm pretty good at it but it's one of those things that can go either way and so fast. One second you're dreaming up titles for the Cooking Show Starring You and the next you're covered in coconut milk and weeping, while something quietly catches fire in the oven*. It's really all about, uh, timing.

Last weekend I was gifted with (Claudia, close your ears) some really glorious Benton's bacon. It's what bacon should be, for serious. It spawned a whole lot of cooking, including these biscuits and this kale and potato recipe. Delicious! I also, at the suggestion of a friend, tried this Brunswick Chicken recipe and it turned out so well I felt like a cooking genius. The next day I turned the leftovers into Brunswick stew (sans possum or squirrel, lets not go crazy, okay?) and it got even better. I was on a roll of cooking awesomeness.

Then, last night I tried another recommended recipe for Seared Tofu with Green Beans and Coconut Sauce. I really like tofu a lot, but I've never been able to cook it. I just can't make it turn out the way I want. I've frozen it, squeezed it, pressed it, yadda yadda yadda falling apart and soggy. Every. Single. Time. I gave up after finding a local brand of pre-baked and flavored tofu that was really good. Then it disappeared - I guess the company went out of business. Sadness! Back to square one.

But I read the recipe and even though it's a little fussy with the cooking and removing, cooking and removing, I thought it sounded simple enough. I got started with the tofu (pressed, cubed, marinated) and everything was going great until I tried to flip it. Uh, tofu? Ain't meat. If you aren't using a non-stick pan those little cubes are going to stick and break and fall apart and you will realize this when you're in the middle of decanting the coconut milk which has separated with a thick layer of solid crap on top and WHEEEE a spray of liquidy goodness underneath that you will accidentally hit too hard with your spatula and it will go EVERYWHERE. Meanwhile your tofu is not searing so much as committing suicide.

You yank out a nonstick pan and transfer the tofu and use the other pan for the rest and watch in horror as your ginger sticks fast and your garlic starts to burn before it even hits the surface. Glob in the coconut milk solids and whatever is left from the liquid and stirstirstir while coconut milk runs down your face, mingling with your tears.

At this point your husband wanders into the kitchen, takes one look and crab-scrambles right back out before he gets sucked into the vortex of Dinner Preparation Panic.

Take a breath. Take a gulp of wine. Wipe the coconut milk off your feet. Go back in.

Green beans, red bell pepper, other shit, stir stir stir, remove. Boil. Throw stuff back in, oh crap what the hell is that? Whatever its fine. Rice, plates, beer, dinner. *sob*

What? No sweat. It was pretty tasty, though next time I'm just going to sear up the tofu in a separate (NONSTICK) pan while I make the sauce and cook the veggies in the other one. I'm not sure why I didn't do that to begin with, but that's why cooking is so fucking fun. IT'S FUN.

* a few weeks ago I apparently dropped a pot holder in the oven and didn't notice. When I opened the oven again I saw it just as it burst into flames. I calmly closed the oven while I found some baking soda to throw on it. I did not panic! Nothing to see here. Please move along.


  1. It sounds like a modern-day version of "I Love Lucy." Kenny = very smart.

  2. It was pretty tasty...

  3. Searing the tofu in a nonstick pan is KEY. Any time I make anything with tofu at all, regardless of what the recipe says, I put it by itself in a nonstick pan (with enough hot oil to coat the bottom) and let it sit for about 8-10 minutes on each side. Then I mix it in with the other ingredients later. It works like a charm.

  4. Feed me! I'll bring cupcakes.

  5. I have a couple tofu recipes (I don't cook it very often) you might like that are easy and won't cause frustration. If you are interested/