Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tofu in Spicy Chile Sauce with Coconut Rice

This recipe has it all, salty, sweet, sour, spicy. Very spicy in fact. I love the aesthetics of shapes with both rice cakes and tofu, and the green and red peppers contrasting the yellow color from the tumeric. It all comes together really well and is really easy to make. What can I say, I just love this. It reminds me of this Thai restaurant that I ate at with my friend W in Puerto Viejo, Costa Rica, and they served their coconut fish soup with star fruit and it was lovely.

Start with the rice the day before or in the morning. That way the rice has time to cool and set so that it's easier to cut into shapes.

Coconut Rice Cakes
1 1/2 cups basmati rice
1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp tumeric
black and/or white sesame seeds
peanut oil for frying
salt and pepper

1. Rinse the rice. Boil 2 cups of water with the coconut milk and add salt, pepper, and tumeric.
2. Add the rice, turn down the heat to a simmer, cook covered for about 20 minutes or until the rice is ready. Allow the rice to cool.
3. Lay a piece of plastic wrap on a cookie sheet. Spread the rice evenly about 1 1/2 inches thick over the cookie sheet. Sprinkle with sesame seeds. Cover the top with another piece of plastic wrap, so the rice doesn't dry out.
4. Place in the refridgerator over night or until well chilled.
5. When ready to make the tofu, cut into squares or triangles and fry lightly on either side. Enough to give a crisp to the edges and heat through.

Spicy Tofu
1 package firm tofu sliced into 1 1/2 inch thick triangles
1 cup coconut milk
3 tbs soy sauce
1 tbs brown sugar
2 limes
3 shallots, diced
1 red jalopeno chile, sliced on the diagonal (seeds removed if you want to minimize the heat)
1 green jalopeno chile, sliced on the diagonal (''   '')
3 cloves garlic
1 tsp tumeric
1 tbs fresh or dried mint leaves
1 tbs fresh or dried basil leaves (Thai basil works best here, but isn't easy to find)
salt and pepper

1. Cook the tofu on low heat on a dry non-stick skillet for about 10 minutes on each side. This evaporates a lot of the excess liquid and makes the tofu a bit firmer. Since we'll be adding more liquid later, you don't want soggy tofu.
2. Remove the tofu, sprinkle with the juice of half of one lime.
3. Return the skillet to heat, add peanut oil, shallots, garlic, and chiles and saute until golden.
4. Add cocounut milk, soy sauce, sugar, mint and basil, salt and pepper. Continue to cook until everything is well heated through.
5. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over the sauce.
6. Assemble the rice cakes on a plate and dish the tofu and sauce on top. Drizzle with excess sauce, serve with lime slices.

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