Posts Tagged ‘tofu’

Episode 109 centers around wonton wrappers and the different ways to use them. Wonton comes from the Cantonese term “wahn tan,” which means “cloud swallow.” While it is possible to make your own wonton wrappers at home, Alton was adamant that it is not worth the time and effort to do so. Instead, do yourself a favor and buy the wonton wrappers that are readily available in the produce section of almost any grocery store.

Perfect Potstickers

This episode starts with Alton’s version of potstickers, featuring a pork and vegetable filling. The filling is made by combining in a bowl 1/2 pound ground pork, 1/4 C chopped scallions, 1 beaten egg, 2 T finely chopped red bell pepper, 1 1/2 t Kosher salt, 1/2 t pepper, 1 t light brown sugar, 1/4 t cayenne pepper, 2 t Worcestershire sauce, 2 t ketchup, and 1 t yellow mustard.

Mix the filling thoroughly with gloved hands.

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The mixed potsticker filling.

As you fill your wonton wrappers, be sure to keep the remaining wrappers moist by covering them with a damp paper towel.

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Wonton wrappers.

To form the potstickers, place a wrapper so it is a diamond in front of you. Brush the two edges furthest from you with water and place a melon baller of filling (about 1/2 t) in the center.

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Wonton wrapper with the two far edges brushed with water and a melon baller of filling.

Fold the bottom of the diamond over the filling to form a triangle, pressing the edges together and squeezing to remove any air bubbles.

Make two pleats on each short side of the triangle by folding the wrapper under itself and pressing (see photo).

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Pleats made on each short side of the triangle.

Set the formed potstickers on a sheet pan, covering them with a damp towel until you finish filling the rest of the wrappers. For long-term storage (these will keep for 6+ months in the freezer), freeze the potstickers on a sheet pan and then transfer them to ziplock freezer bags. To cook the potstickers, heat a large skillet (that has a lid) over medium heat. Ideally, you do not want to use a nonstick skillet to cook potstickers, as you want them to stick to the pan. I, however, do not have a large skillet that is not nonstick, so I had to work with what I have. Heat the skillet until water droplets will “dance” across the surface of the pan. When the skillet is hot, brush the pan with a thin layer of vegetable oil and place 8-10 potstickers in the pan. Let the potstickers cook for two minutes, resisting the urge to lift or move them.

When the potstickers have begun to stick to the pan, add 1/3 C chicken stock to the pan and quickly put the lid on the pan. Decrease the heat to low and cook the potstickers for two more minutes.

If you need to cook more potstickers, transfer the cooked potstickers to a foil cone and place it in a 200 degree oven while you cook the rest.

Be sure to deglaze the pan between batches by adding water to the pan and scraping up any stuck bits. Alton recommends serving the potstickers with hoisin sauce (you can buy this in the grocery store) or a mixture of soy sauce and honey. I served my potstickers with a mixture of soy sauce and lemon juice.

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A plate of Alton’s potstickers.

These potstickers are fantastic. They are far superior to the frozen versions you get at any store. The filling is a perfectly balanced mixture of sweetness, spiciness, and tanginess. The wrappers are nearly translucent after cooking, having the texture of an al dente noodle on top and light crispiness on the bottom. I found that soy sauce overpowered the flavor of the filling, so I opted to eat mine with just a small amount of Asian mustard. Yes, it does take a little bit of time to fill and form the potstickers, but they are worth the time. I will absolutely make these again.

Vegetarian Steamed Dumplings

Another way to use wonton wrappers is to make steamed dumplings. If you do not have a steamer, Alton has a hack for you. To assemble his steamer, you will need a wide pot with a lid, a few pastry rings or tuna cans with the tops and bottoms removed, and disposable pie plates that you have perforated with scissors or a knife. To assemble the steamer, place 1/2″ water in the bottom of the pot, followed by a pastry ring or can. Top the ring/can with a perforated pie plate. Continue layering rings and pie plates to the top of the pot and put on the lid. You can then steam your dumplings by placing five dumplings in each pie plate layer. We have a bamboo steamer, so I used that. Anyway, back to the recipe. Cut 1/2 pound of tofu in half horizontally and place the layers between paper towels for 20 minutes. It helps to place a plate or pan on top to press out excess liquid.

Once the tofu is ready, cut it into small cubes and place it in a bowl.

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Cubing the tofu.

To the tofu add 1/2 C grated carrot, 1/2 C shredded Napa cabbage, 2 T chopped scallions, 2 T chopped red bell pepper, 2 t minced ginger, 1 T chopped cilantro, 1 T soy sauce, 1 T hoisin sauce (in the Asian section at the grocery store), 2 t sesame oil, 1 t Kosher salt, 1/4 t pepper, and one beaten egg.

Lightly stir the filling, as you do not want to break up the tofu.

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Dumpling filling.

Place your wonton wrappers in damp paper towels to keep them moist as you fill. To fill, place a wrapper so it is a diamond in front of you and place a melon baller (~1/2 t) of filling in the center. Brush all four edges of the wrapper with water and bring opposite corners together.

Press the edges together, squeezing out any air bubbles.

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Folding opposite corners together and pinching the seams.

Place the filled dumplings on a sheet pan and cover them with a damp towel while you fill the remaining wrappers. You can freeze them for later use or cook them immediately.

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Dumplings on sheet pan.

To cook the dumplings, heat water in a steamer until you can see steam. If using Alton’s steamer, spray the pie plates with oil. Place the dumplings in the steamer, put the lid on, and cook the dumplings for 10-12 minutes.

Alton recommends serving these dumplings in a bowl of chicken stock. For vegetarians, you could use vegetable broth. I had some homemade chicken stock in the freezer, so served my dumplings in that.

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Alton’s vegetarian steamed dumplings in chicken stock.

This is another wonderful recipe. In fact, we probably liked these vegetarian dumplings more than the pork potstickers. The filling of the dumplings is spicy and sweet, with occasional punches of fresh ginger and cilantro, and the dumplings look quite pretty when folded in this manner. Serving the dumplings in a bowl of warm stock makes for a delicious meal. Great recipe.

Pear Walnut Wontons

Dessert wontons? Yep, Alton has a recipe for those too. The filling for these wontons starts by combining 1/4 C sugar and 1/4 C water in a saucier. Bring the water and sugar to a simmer over medium heat, or until the sugar has dissolved.

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Sugar and water over medium heat.

Meanwhile, split a vanilla bean and scrape out its seeds.

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Vanilla bean to be scraped.

When the sugar has dissolved in the pan, remove it from the heat and add 1 T orange liqueur and the vanilla bean scrapings. Let the syrup cool.

Next, chop 6 ounces of dried pears and place them in the bowl of a food processor.

Pulse the pears until they clump together.

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Dried pears pulsed until clumpy.

Add the cooled sugar syrup to the pears and pulse until smooth.

Place 1 1/4 ounces toasted and chopped walnuts in a bowl (I toasted mine in a skillet over low heat) and add the pear mixture, stirring to combine.

Place the filling in the refrigerator for an hour or up to overnight. For these wontons, Alton used a different forming method than for the two previous recipes. For these, he placed a wonton wrapper on top of his fist, pressing the center of the wrapper down into the hole of his fist. He brushed on a little bit of water and filled the little indentation with filling. He then crimped the edges around the ball of filling, pushing out the air and forming a little octopus shape (at least, that’s what it looked like to me).  Okay, so this method of filling just didn’t work for me, though the little octopus-like dumplings were cute in the episode. I found that the filling leaked all over, the wrappers tore, and it was impossible to put much filling into the wrapper with this method. I gave up after throwing away several wrappers, and opted to fold my wontons as in the vegetarian dumpling recipe above.

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Attempting to fold wontons Alton’s way.

So, instead, I placed a wrapper so it was a diamond in front of me and placed a melon baller of filling in the center. I brushed all four edges of the wrapper with water and brought the opposite corners together, pinching the seams and pressing out any air bubbles. As with the other recipes, be sure to keep your empty wonton wrappers in moist paper towels as you fill, and place filled wontons on a baking sheet covered with a damp towel.

I chose to freeze a bunch of these right away since we only planned to eat a few, so I placed the sheet pan of wontons directly in the freezer. These babies get fried; afterall, it is dessert! To fry these wontons, heat 1/2 gallon of vegetable or peanut oil to 360 degrees.

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Oil heating to 360.

Add eight wontons to the hot oil, cooking them for two minutes, or until golden. Transfer the fried wontons to a rack over a sheet pan to drain and cool.

Alton recommends serving these guys with ice cream.

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Fried wontons with ice cream.

We had these for dessert last night, and they were a really fun dessert to have. The wonton wrappers were golden brown and crispy, while the still-warm filling was reminiscent of warm fruit pie filling. The walnuts gave the filling a little bit of texture. The filling is not overly sweet, so these really do pair well with the sweetness of ice cream. I plan to fry up some more of these for dessert over the weekend.

Thanks to my little Good Eats project, our post-Boston Marathon week consisted largely of recipes for tofu. Considering that we were quite gluttonous for a couple of days after the marathon, I think we were ready for some tofu! I know many people who turn their noses up at tofu, but I happen to like the stuff, as does Ted. My first experiences with tofu were when I was in high school and going through a phase where I did not eat a lot of meat; somehow, I had convinced myself that I really didn’t like meat. My brother was out of town and my dad decided he would try to cook a few tofu recipes for he, my mom, and me. We affectionately refer to this week in our lives as “Tofu Week.” I don’t recall what the various tofu preparations were, but I remember whispered conversations between my mom and me where we both agreed the tofu was horrible, but did not want to hurt Dad’s feelings. Thankfully, Dad sat down at the table, took one bite, and said, “This is horrible.” This exact scenario played out several times during that week, leaving us all to think that tofu was pretty darn disgusting. While I later gave tofu another shot and really liked it, I don’t think my parents ever quite recovered from Tofu Week.

Fillet O’Fu

Alton’s first tofu preparation was his tofu fillet. For this tofu recipe, you want to use firm tofu, which has less moisture than silken tofu, and therefore has a higher concentration of nutrients. Firm tofu is like a sponge, so it will soak up any flavors you want to impart. When marinating meat, one purpose of the acid in the marinade is for tenderizing the meat’s proteins. Since tofu’s proteins are already coagulated, tofu marination is solely for flavor injection. To make Alton’s tofu fillets, slice a block of firm tofu lengthwise into four equal slices.

One block of firm tofu.

One block of firm tofu.

Block of firm tofu, cut into four fillets.

Block of firm tofu, cut into four fillets.

Wrap the tofu fillets in paper towels, weigh the tofu down with a sheet pan and some canned goods, and allow the paper towels to absorb the moisture for a good hour.

Tofu fillets wrapped in paper towels and weighed down.

Tofu fillets wrapped in paper towels and weighed down.

Tofu fillets after sitting in paper towels for an hour.

Tofu fillets after sitting in paper towels for an hour.

Meanwhile, make a marinade of 2 T sherry vinegar, 2 T Worcestershire sauce, and a few dashes of Tabasco sauce.

Marinade ingredients:  Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and sherry vinegar.

Marinade ingredients: Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and sherry vinegar.

Place the tofu fillets into the marinade for 15 minutes on each side. Alton explains that since the tofu is sponge-like, it is not necessary to do a long marination.

Tofu fillets into marinade for 15 minutes.

Tofu fillets into marinade for 15 minutes.

Tofu fillets flipped to marinate for 15 minutes on side two.

Tofu fillets flipped to marinate for 15 minutes on side two.

When ready to cook, fill a large non-stick skillet with 1/8″ of canola oil, and place over medium-high heat.

Canola oil in non-stick skillet.

Canola oil in non-stick skillet.

In a shallow dredging dish, crack two eggs and lightly beat them. In a second dredging dish, place 1/2 C flour.

Two dredging dishes:  one with flour and one with eggs.

Two dredging dishes: one with flour and one with eggs.

Eggs beaten with a fork.

Eggs beaten with a fork.

Blot the marinated tofu with paper towels to get rid of excess marinade and dredge the fillets lightly in flour, tapping to get rid of any excess flour.

Marinated tofu on paper towels.

Marinated tofu on paper towels.

Tofu dredged lightly in flour...

Tofu dredged lightly in flour…

After dredging the tofu in flour, dip the fillets into the eggs, and slide them gently into the hot oil.

...and then coated in egg.

…and then coated in egg.

Fry the fillets for two minutes per side, or until golden brown.

Tofu fillets into hot oil for 2 minutes.

Tofu fillets into hot oil for 2 minutes.

Tofu fillets flipped to cook on second side for two more minutes.

Tofu fillets flipped to cook on second side for two more minutes.

Pan-fried tofu fillets.

Pan-fried tofu fillets.

Coonhounds will eat tofu.

Coonhounds will eat tofu.

We ate these fillets as our entrée and we liked the crispy “skin” that coated the tofu. While you could taste the marinade, it was faint, so I wonder if a longer marination would result in better flavor injection. I think I will try this recipe again, but with a 24-hour marination, as that is what I have done with some other tofu recipes that have had more flavor. Texture-wise this was a good tofu dish, but it was a bit bland flavor-wise.

No Guilt Caesar

What better to pair with tofu fillets than a green salad with tofu Caesar dressing?

Caesar ingredients:  Parmesan, garlic, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Kosher salt, black pepper, and silken tofu.

Caesar ingredients: Parmesan, garlic, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Kosher salt, black pepper, and silken tofu.

To make Alton’s tofu dressing, grind 2 ounces of Parmesan cheese in a blender.

Two ounces of cubed Parmesan.

Two ounces of cubed Parmesan.

Cubed Parmesan in the blender.

Cubed Parmesan in the blender.

With the blender running, dump 2 cloves of garlic down the chute.

Garlic added to Parmesan.

Garlic added to Parmesan.

Once processed, turn the blender off and add 2 T Dijon mustard, 1 1/2 t white wine vinegar, 1 1/2 t Worcestershire sauce, a pinch of Kosher salt, a few grinds of black pepper, and 1 C of silken tofu.

Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Kosher salt, and black pepper added to dressing.

Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, Kosher salt, and black pepper added to dressing.

Silken tofu added to blender.

Silken tofu added to blender.

Blend until smooth. Once smooth, slowly pour 2 T of olive oil down the chute with the blender running.

Olive oil drizzled into dressing.

Olive oil drizzled into dressing.

Finished tofu Caesar dressing.

Finished tofu Caesar dressing.

Tofu Caesar dressing over arugula.

Tofu Caesar dressing over arugula.

The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for up to two weeks. We were pretty happy with this dressing, though it does have pretty intense garlic flavor. If using two cloves of garlic, I would recommend using smaller ones. I served my dressing over arugula because that is what we had in the house, but we will have to get some Romaine and make a true Caesar-style salad. This is a good, easy, healthy salad dressing, and you would really never know it has tofu as a main ingredient.

Moo-Less Chocolate Pie

The third recipe in this episode is for Alton’s tofu chocolate pie. As far as desserts go, it doesn’t get any easier than this one.

Ingredients for tofu chocolate pie:  silken tofu, semisweet chocolate chips, coffee liqueur, vanilla, honey, and a cookie crust.

Ingredients for tofu chocolate pie: silken tofu, semisweet chocolate chips, coffee liqueur, vanilla, honey, and a cookie crust.

In a blender, combine one block of silken tofu, 1/3 C coffee liqueur, 1 t vanilla, 1 T honey, and 2 C semisweet chocolate chips, melted. Blend until smooth.

Tofu in the blender.

Tofu in the blender.

Melted chocolate chips, vanilla, honey, & coffee liqueur added to the tofu.

Melted chocolate chips, vanilla, honey, & coffee liqueur added to the tofu.

Blended until smooth.

Blended until smooth.

Pour the mixture into a prepared chocolate cookie crust and refrigerate until firm. The online recipe contains a recipe for a chocolate wafer crust, but Alton used a purchased chocolate cookie crust in the episode, so that is what I used.

Prepared cookie crust.

Prepared cookie crust.

Filling poured into crust.

Filling poured into crust.

Pie after setting in the refrigerator.

Pie after setting in the refrigerator.

Dense tofu chocolate pie.

Dense tofu chocolate pie.

This pie is delicious, and I will absolutely make it again. The pie is super rich, full of chocolate flavor, and has a dense, smooth texture. You would NEVER guess that tofu is in this pie. I would say this is one of the best recipes I have made so far in this project.

Tall & Tangy Tofu Thangy

The final recipe in this episode is for a tofu smoothie. In advance of making this one, freeze a small can (8 1/4 oz) of fruit cocktail in light syrup. I actually could not find a small can of fruit cocktail, so I weighed mine out and froze it in a ziplock bag.

Smoothie ingredients:  frozen fruit cocktail in light syrup, lemonade mix, cranberry juice, and silken tofu.

Smoothie ingredients: frozen fruit cocktail in light syrup, lemonade mix, cranberry juice, and silken tofu.

When ready to have your smoothie, dump the frozen fruit cocktail into a blender, along with 1 t powdered lemonade mix, 6 ounces cranberry juice, and 1 block of silken tofu. Blend until smooth and drink.

Frozen fruit cocktail in the blender.

Frozen fruit cocktail in the blender.

Lemonade mix added.

Lemonade mix added.

Six ounces of cranberry juice.

Six ounces of cranberry juice.

Allison's camera 066

Silken tofu added to the blender.

Silken tofu added to the blender.

Blended until smooth.

Blended until smooth.

The finished tofu smoothie.

The finished tofu smoothie.

We had this smoothie for breakfast yesterday, and thought it was okay, but not outstanding. It is a pretty thick smoothie that is really more tart than sweet, and we both found that the flavor of the tofu really came through, which some people may not care for.

The Coonhounds got a little taste of the smoothie, and they thought it was pretty good.

The Coonhounds got a little taste of the smoothie, and they thought it was pretty good.

I probably will not make this one again, as I think my own tofu smoothie “recipe” (I don’t measure anything) is better; mine consists of a banana, frozen berries, silken tofu, honey, soy milk, and some yogurt.