Monday, 28 May 2012

Mango-Ginger Tofu

As you may know, ginger is one of my favorite ingredients ever. In stir-fries, marinades, vinaigrettes, teas, soda... even in pastries! Nothing equals that hot, bitter, tangy taste. When I see a recipe that features ginger as a star component, I am compelled to try! It's nice to know that on top of tasting good, it has the following therapeutic properties: it helps lower cholesterol, relieves anxiety, settles an upset stomach, diminishes nausea, boosts energy levels, fights the common cold and soothes sore throats. In other words, ginger kicks ass.

This recipe instantly made me think of my dad, who is bananas about ginger, lime juice and mangoes. The apple didn't fall far from the tree when it comes to our love for those three ingredients. I found it browsing the pages of "Vegan with a Vengeance" by Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and thought "Wow!".

Carnivores can definitely use the marinade for chicken, but try it with tofu at least once, and let it marinate overnight so it absorbs all the tasty goodness. Don't let the long ingredients list scare you: they are all easy to find and the combination is flawless. This is a perfect summer meal (yes, we are still technically in spring, but the weather is very summery), with it's refreshing mango and orange flavors; but the spices can make it a nostalgic dish to enjoy in January, to remind yourself that weather as sunny as this sauce will come back… eventually…

2 teaspoon peanut oil
3 cloves garlic
1/4 cup fresh ginger, coarsely chopped
1 fresh chile, seeded and chopped
2 large mangoes, peeled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup pure maple syrup
1 cup white wine (or vegetable broth)
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 limes, juiced
1 cup orange juice (or a blend of mango and orange juice)
1/4 teaspoon allspice
Sea salt and ground pepper to taste

2 pounds extra-firm tofu, pressed and cut into large triangles
1 mango, sliced into long, thin slices
1 red bell pepper, seeded and cut into long, thin slices

Preheat a medium-size saucepan over moderate heat; combine oil, garlic, ginger and chile and sauté for 7 minutes, being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the chopped mango and sauté for another 5 minutes. Add the maple syrup and wine, cover and simmer for 35 minutes. Uncover and simmer for 5 more minutes. Add the vinegar, lime juice, orange juice, allspice, salt and pepper; let cool and transfer to a blender and purée until smooth (or use an immersion blender in the saucepan). Place the prepared tofu in the marinade in a sealable plastic bag or tightly lidded plastic container. Marinate in the fridge for at least an hour and up to overnight.

When ready to cook, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Reserve half the marinade. Lay the marinated tofu in a single layer in a large rimmed baking sheet or baking pan. Bake for 20 minutes. Flip over the tofu and add some marinade. Coat the peppers and the remaining mango in the reserved marinade and add to the pan. Bake for another 15 minutes. Heat the remaining marinade in a saucepan and put in a bowl so your guests can pour it over the tofu. Serve over jasmine rice and steamed vegetables.

If, like me, you prefer the texture of grilled tofu, you can cook your tofu triangles in the following fashion: preheat a grilling pan over medium heat, and in batches of 6 or 8 pieces (depending on the size of your pan), grill the tofu pieces 3 minutes on one side, then flip the pieces and grill for an additional 2 to 3 minutes. You can still use the bell pepper and grill it alongside your tofu, but sliced mango might be trickier, so if you plan on grilling, substitute the last mango for a yellow or orange bell pepper, to keep the lovely colors and give the dish an extra crunch. While everything is grilling, reheat the marinade in a small sauce pan over medium heat, and generously spoon over the plates before serving. This method also works well over a barbecue, if you are lucky enough to have room on your balcony for one.

You can also use this marinade as a sauce to prepare your tofu stir-fry style! Instead of marinating your tofu, press it and cut it into small cubes or triangles. Preheat a large wok over medium-high heat with a glug of peanut oil and fry your tofu and bell peppers, stirring constantly, for about 5 minutes, until the tofu is crispy outside. Pour your marinade in the wok, and stir to coat everything well. The sauce should heat up quickly; serve over jasmine rice with some steamed vegetables as soon as you notice it bubbling!

It makes a great light and healthy lunch, and tastes just as yummy reheated the next day! The fruity, spicy tropical taste of this dish is awesome with a good rosé wine.

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