February 2, 2012

Warm Cabbage Salad with Crispy Tofu

I am in love with all the salads I've been eating.  Most of the time when meal planning I glaze over salads, feeling gypped that I didn't get anything to really fill me up for the afternoon/evening.  This 13-days of salad has blown that theory out of the water!  Most of the salads I've had have left me full and satisfied and even better: totally juiced on the flavours!  Almost all of the recipes will end up in a regular rotation on my dinner plate and with such success I've been inspired to try more.

If you are not much of a salad eater yourself I would challenge you do find a few veggie based recipes that catch your eye, make a point to buy the correct ingredients and set time aside to prepare them well, with the kind of dedication and attention you'd give a scrumptious meatloaf dinner.  In this way you can enjoy the process and adventure rather than slapping a vinaigrette on some bare lettuce and calling it lunch. (guilty!) I'm never satisfied when I do that.

You know what is the bomb diggity? This salad!  I scraped every morsel from the plate.  It was my absolute favourite salad to date, well worth the 15 minutes it took to put together.  The tofu sticks will be in my dreams tonight.  I am very happy I was eating dinner alone, because I don't think I'd ever share these, in fact I'd take them off your plate.  You don't like tofu anyways!  I made the tofu sticks with extra-firm tofu, but I'll try it with a medium tofu next time, to up the creamy factor.  If you want to add a waistline destroyer (like I did) dip your tofu sticks in a dip of mayo+sirracha+few drops of soy sauce, it'll rock your world.  Promise.

Warm Cabbage Salad with Crispy Tofu Sticks

Source:  slightly adapted from here
Serves: 1 very hungry person

1/2 block of tofu, cut the long way into four stick-pieces
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 Tbsp cornmeal
1/3 cup canola oil

4 oz napa cabbage, sliced very thin
1/2 carrot, peeled and shredded with box grater
3 Tbsp salted peanuts, chopped
1 green onion, sliced very thin
2 Tbsp fresh mint, chopped

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 clove of garlic, run through the mircoplane
1 1/2 Tbsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp soy sauce (I didn't have fish sauce)
1 1/2 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp sirracha

In a medium sized bowl combine the cabbage, carrot, peanuts, green onion and mint.  Mix with a fork and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the rice vinegar, soy sauce, (or fish sauce) sugar and sirracha.  Set aside.

Pat the cut tofu dry with paper towel (or a dry cloth).  On a plate combine the cornstarch and cornmeal until well blended.  Heat a small pot with about 1/2 cm of oil, until it shimmers over medium-high heat.  Salt and pepper the tofu, then dredge in the cornstarch mixture pressing so the coating adheres.  Lay the tofu in the hot oil and fry until all the sides are golden brown, about 4-5 minutes.  Lay the crispy tofu sticks on paper towel (or a cloth) to drain.

In another small pot heat 1 Tbsp oil.  Add the garlic and saut√© until fragrant, about 20-30 seconds.  Add the vinegar/sirracha mix and bring to a brief simmer.  Take off heat and pour most of the dressing onto the salad, reserving only about 2 tsp worth to pour on tofu.  

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