Thursday, September 3, 2009

How to make larb tofu - sort of.

I was turned on to Thai food at the tender age of 16, back when such things were quite the novelty. My impressionable taste buds were apparently burned for life, and to this day I think larb tofu is one the best tasting dishes on the planet. For the as yet uninitiated, it's sort of a salad/appetizer that can easily be a whole meal. It is something so good, so pure, so fresh, that I never even bothered trying to replicate it at home.
Well...until yesterday, anyway. An article in Readymade magazine sparked an idea, and a few hours later, I accidentally had something on my hands that tasted an awful lot like the beloved larb tofu.

Want to try it for yourself? It is nomulent. And easy (especially with a food processor. Zip zip zip!). And probably low fat and magic.
Okay, here's what you need:

For the salad:
1/2 head green cabbage - shredded
2 carrots - sliced
1 cucumber - sliced
bunch of mint - minced
bunch of cilantro - minced
mung bean sprouts
2 tomatoes - sliced
handful of honey roasted peanuts, chopped
1 block extra firm tofu

For the marinade:
1 serrano chili
1 very large shallot
1/4 red onion
2 cloves of garlic
2" piece of ginger
juice from 4 limes
3 tbsp. fish sauce
3 tbsp. soy sauce
(Note: thin slices of lemongrass would be soooo perfect in this. I'm doing that next time.)

The tofu needs to be pressed for about two hours. I put it between two cutting boards balanced on the sink and place a heavy jar on top. Jury rig it all you want, but this step is important! Really. Pressing out the excess liquid means it's going to be more flavorful. Once the liquid is mostly out, cut the tofu into little 1/2 chunks. Put in a ziplock bag.

Now, the marinade:
Peel the shallot. Cut everything into thin chunks. Combine all in a bowl with the lime juice- soy sauce. Set aside half as dressing. Put the other half into the ziplock bag with the tofu. Marinate for at least an hour, but longer is better! Flip over occasionally.

Combine all the salad vegetables together in a very large bowl. Put in the tofu, and the dressing. (You can add the leftover marinade from the tofu - really!) Gently toss to combine. Let it sit together for a bit so the flavors come together. You are done! It tastes even better the next day.

I hope you enjoy it!

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