Wednesday night, I decided to make a quick tofu dinner. I don’t cook with tofu too often — maybe once a month — and I typically just make some sort of stir fry. But I had bought fresh dill and lemons at the market, and I had some green beans, tomatoes and lettuce from my veggie delivery that I wanted to use, so I decided to do something a little different — more akin to a fish dish than what I typically do with tofu.
I started by creating a green bean, tomato and curly lettuce salad. I boiled the beans until they started to get tender, then drained and dried them. Then I created a shallot vinaigrette from a recipe in the Chez Panisse Vegetables cookbook. Their big secret is taking a minced shallot, macerating (soaking) it in 3 tablespoons of red wine vinegar for at least 10 minutes, thn combining it with about 3/4 cup olive oil and adding salt and pepper to taste.
I also started just drying out the tofu. I took a block of extra firm tofu, took it out of the package, put it in between paper towels and placed a heavy frying pan and a cook book on top of it. This would really help press out the water, help the tofu be able to absorb more flavors, and make it easier to cook.
I ended up letting it sit for longer than planned since we decided to meet some friends for drinks down in Venice Beach, so the tofu was pressed for 2-3 hours.
When I got back, I sliced the block of tofu into 4 pieces (once through the thin side, once through the center, so I had pieces that were about 2x3x.5 inches). I heated up a nonstick pan, and when it was medium-hot, I added the tofu. I cooked it until it was nicely browned (about 4-5 minutes) on the bottom, then turned it over.
Once the second side started cooking, I spooned over some of the shallot vinaigrette (enough to cover the top of each tofu filet), a generous amount of fresh dill and the juice of half a lemon. I also put some thin slices of lightly cooked lemon on top of the tofu add some more flavor.
I made a quick avocado salsa by chopping avocado into small pieces, tossing with the vinaigrette, dill and the remaining lemon juice.
When the tofu is nicely crispy and brown on the bottom, serve it topped with the avocado salsa, and put the salad on the side.
The dish tasted wonderful. The salad was nice and light. And the tofu was some of the best I’d ever had. Drying it out for so long made it brown really easily and gave it a much denser and more satisfying texture than it normally has, though without making it too hard or dry. The flavors were simple and traditional, and it really tasted like a fish filet — without any fishy taste. Best of all, it was super easy and it looked beautiful. I can’t believe I didn’t take a photo.