If you're lucky, you like to cook. If you're especially unlucky, you don't like to cook, but you HAVE to do it for the benefit of those around you. If you're especially lucky, then someone around you will cook, and cook for you. I'm especially lucky because friend SH WILL cook for me (her Vietnamese Chicken Curry - LOVE IT) and SH is lucky because I will cook for her. You could say we're doubly blessed. I bake for the neighbors, drop off food to those around me, because for many, it sucks being in the kitchen.
But friend SH and I, and friend JEL and I -we all like to cook. And we enjoy cooking together. JEL and I will bang out dishes for our family on the weekend, doing weird challenges for ourselves like, "use only the ingredients on the top shelf." Friend SH and I often eat lunch together, while planning what we're going to cook for dinner together, and oftentimes cook for each other, special dishes that we want the other to have. It's a good life, and we should share it.
If you're in a cooking rut - go out and find a cooking partner. Even if it is only once a week, or even only ONCE, cooking with a friend can really dramatically alter your perspective on food. Prep dinner together and both go home with the meal set. It's actually really wonderful to do, and today, my dinner was made for me by my friend SH. Believe you me, it was the PERFECT meal for me and the best thing was it was done, and I didn't have to think about dinner.
For SH - I made this tofu dish for her lunch. I saw a recipe for something similar, but I threw the recipe away once I realized it was going to be extra fussy and complicated with the frying of the tofu. I went simple - fried tofu with a delicious spicy sauce, adding jalapenos for extra kick and garlic for extra fire. The result - on rice? Fughedabout it. With a cold beer? (OH THAT WOULD TASTE GOOD - only it's still 1145 AM.)
I want you to cook this tofu dish with someone. Trust me. You'll enjoy it more when you do it together.
Korean Spicy Quick Braised Tofu
Serves 4 (or only 2 if there are tofu LOVERS)
14 oz to 16 oz package of firm tofu
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 jalapeno, sliced into rounds
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon sake
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon gochujahng (Korean chili pepper paste)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
Cut tofu into 1 inch cubes. Place tofu on paper towel and allow water to drain from tofu, for about 10 minutes.
Heat heavy skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add tofu carefully, watching for splatters. Be careful! You can be hit with oil. Begin browning tofu on all sides, until most sides are golden brown. Total cooking time is about 8 to 10 minutes, until tofu is golden. Remove tofu from oil using a slotted spoon, and drain on paper towels.
Reduce heat to medium, and in the same pan, same oil, add sliced jalapeno and garlic and cook for about 30 seconds, until fragrant. Add water, soy sauce, sake, honey, gochujahng and allow ingredients to come together into a sauce. Once it is uniform and the sauce is bubbling, add tofu and toss together, coating the tofu. Drizzle sesame oil and sprinkle sesame seeds and do one more final toss.
Serve with rice. Enjoy.
As good as this looks, it tastes better when you share it.
The wok that I just purchased which appears in these pictures is this one. I LOVE it thus far (I'm curious to see how it holds up in the long term) - it's pricey (as you can see) but it is made with green technology and is better than your average teflon pan. The non stick is awesome; you CAN use metal utensils on its non-stick surface. We'll see how long I love it for. It's been about 2 weeks now.