Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Can I eat this tofu cold ?

This question was sparked chronologically like that: I remember when I did this tofu dish, Keropok Man suggested mommy's style of frying some shallot oil and pour over cold tofu. Then, Keropok Man also prepared his cold tofu dish here, and I publicly said, when I made Pipa tofu, that I'm trying to "overcome my reservations" on cold tofu. Yes, if only I could find fresh good tofu. I can't find fresh tofu here in the Bay Area. To me, fresh good tofu is tofu being sold completely immersed in water to maintain its moisture content (just like those in Meidi-Ya Supermarket, S'pore).

But I saw few packs of finely textured silken tofu recently. They come in small packs(like the above), which seems to tell me "I'm ready to be eaten cold, can scoop me like a dessert". "Only the paranoid survive, remember?" - to play safe, I still somehow cook the tofu the funny way (see step 3. in Method below). Too many incidents happened here - eg. E-coli incidents in raw spinach and green onions. All these veg. can be eaten raw but look what happened.

At least, this is my half-completed (but not half-hearted) attempt to "not cook" the tofu. I reassured myself by doing some research that tofu can indeed be eaten cold, but not all types. In Japanese cuisine, hiyayakko (or cold tofu) commonly uses kinugoshi-type (silken tofu) ; and momen-type(cotton tofu, less common). Most tofu are already cooked during manufacture, so any bacteria present in the soy beans should have been killed and should be safe to eat (but who knows what happens in terms of handling/storage methods and hygiene, from the factory to the supermarket). Anyway, to cut it short, you can eat it whatever way you are most comfortable with.

Spinach soup with tofu, wolfberries and shitake(serves 2)
-2 blocks medium-sized silken tofu, rinsed gently, then drained and place each block in a bowl
-~0.75lb spinach, washed and cleaned
-1/4 lb ground pork
-2tbsp wolfberries (Pablopabla, hawthorn same as wolf?)
-6 shitake mushrooms, wiped with damp kitchen towels, stalks removed, caps julienned
-1tsp dried anchovies, soaked in warm water, then rinsed off
-750ml water
-salt, to taste

1. Boil water in a soup pot. When boiled, add dried anchovies, ground pork, mushrooms, and wolfberries to the water, add salt to taste
2. In the same pot, blanch the spinach(1min). When blanched, set aside the spinach (Note: I did not cook the spinach together with the soup, just in case I overcook the spinach while boiling the soup unattended). Alternatively(non-blanching method), you can add in spinach, last, when everything is just about ready to be served.
3.Use some boiling water to drizzle over the tofu, then rinsed away the water after 30 secs. Repeat 3 times. This will ensure tofu is warm when served.
3.Place blanched spinach around tofu in a bowl (Note: This is also part of the reason why I set aside the spinach in 2., so that the spinach act as a base for the soft soft tofu to sit comfortably as a whole).
4. Pour soup (of anchovies, minced pork, mushrooms, wolfberries) over tofu and spinach.

I love this soup so much, that I can eat it without rice. All the flavors and nutrition of tofu, pork, mushrooms, spinach and wolfberries are all in the soup! If not rice, you can also throw in a pack of Instant noodles like what Simcooks does.

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