Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Tofu Tuesday: Garlic Curry Tofu Spread

Tofu Tuesday: a quest for tasty tofu recipes

Tofu is one of those foods that doesn't exactly make you think "oh yum".  I've tried plenty of not so great recipes using tofu, but I've also found a few really good ones.  I'm on a quest for more recipes using tofu that actually taste good.  Don't be scared, I'm the one trying them out and eating them, I won't make you eat any of it unless you want to.  Let's give it a chance though, this is not "Tune out Tuesday".  Everyone deserves another chance, no judgments.  That being said, if this gets really boring and we just can't  seem to make tofu tasty then I'll pick another topic.  You can't say you don't like it until you try it, so let's just try.

Before we get too far, there's a few things we should learn about tofu.  Tofu is made from soybeans/soy milk kind of like cheese is made from cow's milk.  See, its not that scary, its all about your perspective.  There are several types of tofu but let's just start with the two types you're most likely to run into: silken and water-packed.

Water-packed tofu comes in those little white tubs in the refrigerator section.  Its a block of tofu packed in (wait for it.... ) water.  It comes in varying degrees of firmness, usually labeled firm or extra-firm.  An Asian grocery store I frequent also has medium firm and soft/silken in the water-pack packaging which still confuses me.  I would buy them and try them all side-by-side to solve this problem, but that's a lot of open tofu at once.

The other variety of tofu is called silken.  It often comes in vacuum-packed shelf-stable cardboard boxes.  But the grocery stores usually put it in the refrigerated section anyway so you don't freak out.  Silken tofu has a creamy custard-like texture.  It  also comes in firm and extra-firm varieties.  In my mind silken should be soft not firm or extra-firm, but I guess I still have a lot to learn about tofu.

Silken and water-packed are typically not interchangeable in recipes.  This is why some recipes turn out terribly and people decide tofu is gross.  If you use extra-firm water-packed  tofu in a smoothie instead of silken you could end up with a smoothie with chunks of floating tofu, ummm no thank you.  As this tofu quest continues we'll figure out more about what type is best for each recipe.

The first tofu recipe I'm posting is a Garlic Curry Tofu Spread.  At first I was thinking of this as a dip, but after making it I think it would be better spread on crackers or a wrap.  I was intrigued by the combination of ingredients (did I mention I like to try really weird stuff?).  I made a few changes to the original recipe based on what I had on hand.  The original called for natural peanut butter (the kind you stir that has only peanuts and salt) but I used a basic crunchy peanut butter.  Natural peanut butter has a much stronger flavor and would have made this spread better.  I noticed a slight peanut flavor immediately after making the dip, but it was overpowered by garlic the next day.  I always thought granulated garlic was stronger than powdered and couldn't remember the conversion.  I looked it up before hand and found out you should actually use twice as much granulated when substituting for powdered.  I would not suggest that in this recipe.  It had way to much garlic flavor.  When I was laying in bed in the middle of the night trying to sleep, I could still taste the garlic (and yes, I  had brushed my teeth).  I  also cut back on the mayo since all we had was a little condiment packet.  (I've learned the hard way not to sub Miracle Whip for mayo in recipes).

I tasted this right after I made it and again after it sat in the fridge overnight.  At first I got tofu flavor followed by strong curry and then a hint of peanut, that's when I decided it needed to sit a while for the flavors to blend.  The next day the tofu flavor was gone but it was extremely garlicky along with a strong curry flavor.  I tried adding more peanut butter to balance out the flavors and that made a huge difference. This spread is good if you're looking for something to change it up, but it wasn't for me.  If you do decide to make it I would suggest using less garlic and more peanut butter (or natural peanut butter).  Then again, I think just about everything is better with more peanut butter.

Garlic Curry Tofu Spread
slightly adapted from Smucker's

2 Tbsp crunchy peanut butter (see comments above)
2 tsp light mayonnaise (this is the amount in one of those (12.4g) condiment packets that comes with sandwiches)
1/2 tsp Dijon mustard
2 tsp granulated garlic (I would suggest starting with half this amount, see comments above)
1 tsp curry powder
1/8 tsp turmeric
3/4 cup (6oz) firm tofu, drained (I used water-packed)
1/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup chopped red pepper
salt and pepper to taste

* Place peanut butter, mayonnaise, mustard, garlic, curry powder, turmeric and tofu in food processor.
* Process until smooth and creamy.  This may take several minutes.  If the spread still has little white tofu bits then keep processing.
* Transfer spread to a bowl and stir in carrots and red pepper.  Season to taste with salt and pepper. Refrigerate overnight before serving.

Food for Thought: "Be curious, not judgmental." - Walt Whitman 

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