A few weeks ago I read a number of different articles in the New York times about food. This is an everyday occurrence for me; I usually read both the health section and the dining section of the New York times, plus anything Mark Bittman wrote. On this particular day, I enjoyed an article on the Mediterranean Diet and an article by Mark Bittman on the various ways to cook a white fillet of fish. Reading the Bittman article, I had a sudden flash of inspiration (and random flashes of culinary inspiration are rare for me, so this one was exciting), that silken tofu, if cooked properly, might flake similarly to a fillet like tilapia.
I was so excited that I went straight from work to Berkeley Bowl to pick up the necessary ingredients. I didn’t even linger in the grocery store, which has never happened before. I came home and created this recipe, which I was so excited about that I promptly teased it on the blog. Not only was dinner delicious, but I felt like it was a real “entrée.” My favorite meals are often one pot wonders, with greens and grains and beans all mixed together. This dinner has a much more typical makeup with a main protein being the star of the plate. As I perfected the recipe, I served the fillet over quinoa, over lentils, and over sauteed spinach. All were tasty and different, so you can change up your side dish as you please.
On the final test, we started with a bed of french lentils. We know I have a thing for those..
Then added a golden fillet of tofu (that could totally masquerade as fried fish if you were trying to fool someone… hint… Dad…)
And topped everything with a bright and fresh tomato caper sauce.
(for the fillet)
1 package silken tofu
1/2 cup cornmeal
2 tbsp nutritional yeast
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
salt and pepper
(for the sauce)
1/2 pint of grape tomatoes
2 medium tomatoes (I used one red and yellow heirloom, but any tomatoes that look good and smell like tomatoes will work perfectly here )
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves of garlic
1 tbsp capers
1/4 cup kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1. Drain the water from the tofu package, and press the tofu. Press the tofu for at least 30min prior to cutting the fillets.
2. Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut the grape tomatoes in half and lay them cut side up in a baking dish. Drizzle the tomatoes with olive oil and roast them in the oven for 30min or until caramelized.
3. Remove the seeds from your two tomatoes, chop them, and set aside. Chop the olives and set aside. Also chop the onion and mince the garlic and set aside. Having these ingredients prepared will allow you to put the sauce together in a matter of minutes later.
4. Mix together the cornmeal and the nutritional yeast and spread the mixture out on a small plate.
5. Whisk together the champagne vinegar, balsamic vinegar and red pepper flakes. Pour this mixture onto a second small plate.
6. Once you have pressed the tofu, cut it in half lengthwise, and then cut each rectangle in half diagonally so you have four triangular fillets. Don’t worry if the tofu breaks into some smaller pieces. Silken tofu doesn’t stay together as well as firm or extra firm tofu. Plus, irregularly shaped fillets will just make your dish look more authentic.
7. Heat a large skillet on medium high with a drizzle of olive oil. When a drop of water sizzles in the skillet, it will be ready for your tofu.
8. Salt and pepper both sides of each fillet, and dip both sides in the champagne mixture and then in the corn meal mixture. Carefully place each fillet in the hot skillet.
9. Resist the urge to adjust the tofu once it’s in the skillet. The secret to getting a good crust on the tofu is not to move it once it’s in the pan. After 3-5 min (you can cheat and check the bottom of one piece if necessary), carefully flip the tofu and cook for an additional 3min on the second side. Remove the tofu to a separate plate.
10. Add another tablespoon of olive oil back to the same skillet. Add your chopped onion and stir. Allow the onion to cook for approximately 3 min (or until translucent), and add your garlic.
11. Remove your roasting grape tomatoes from the oven, and add them to the pan, along with the diced tomatoes, chopped olives and capers. Stir.
12. Add 1 tbsp of balsamic vinegar to your sauce, and salt and pepper to taste.
13. Serve your tofu over quinoa, lentils, greens, or nearly anything else you would like and spoon the sauce on top.
serves four, or two hungry people.
Have you ever had a culinary inspiration that demanded you get to the grocery store or to the kitchen immediately?