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As even many nonvegetarians know, tofu is a wonderfully adaptable food. Curried tofu, which is simply tofu to which one of an almost infinite number of curry combinations has been added, can be served as a sandwich filling, a salad, or as a hot dish along with brown basmati rice, potatoes, or other side dish. Tofu curry can be sharply spiced or hum with a subtler taste.
The easiest curried tofu can be made by mashing a cake of medium or firm tofu with either purchased powdered curry or curry paste with a little mayonnaise or other moistener. While this perfectly serviceable concoction works fine when time is limited, the nature of curry means that a little forethought and a dash of creativity will yield a curried dish that much more memorable. The first step is determining if the curried tofu is to be served cold, as a salad, side dish, or sandwich spread, or hot, as a main dish.
A terrific, cold curried tofu salad can be constructed by cubing tofu and marinating it briefly in a little orange juice and a small amount of mildly flavored oil and either some prepared curry powder or paste. After the tofu is removed from the marinade, tossing it with lettuce, basil leaves, and salad vegetables, such as baby carrots, sliced peppers, and cucumber, will result in a light but filling and healthy lunch treat. This salad can bulk up for a hearty dinner with the addition of boiled baby potatoes or cold cooked barley, quinoa, or other grain.
For hot dish tofu with Indian overtones, a home cook can begin by marinating the cubed tofu in coconut milk to which any number of herbs, spices, and other flavorings have been added. A little Indian curry paste can be added for a milder flavor or more paste to create a curry with zing. Fresh ginger and minced garlic is a must, and many cooks swear that the addition of crushed or minced basil, a squeeze of lime, and some lemongrass bring the curry to life. After marinating, the tofu cubes can be lightly coated with cornstarch and sautéed in hot oil together with green beans, potatoes, carrots, or other veggies.
Caribbean curry is another favorite. Adding some chopped peaches or pears, a handful of dried cranberries, pineapples or raisins, and some plantain will make diners swear they can smell the tropical ocean air. Leftover Caribbean tofu curry can be mashed for a sandwich filling or slipped into empanada dough for a fried pie.
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