Nofu: Burmese Bean Curd

December 31, 2006 at 6:53 am (Beans, B_minus (2 stars, okay), Other)

My friend gave me this recipe on my soy-free month, and I bought the garbanzo flour to make it but never got up the energy. Cleaning out my fridge I rediscovered the besan (chickpea flour) and decided to give it a go. I thought it was called Nofu but when I dug up the recipe it’s actually called Tohu, which isn’t nearly as catchy I think. But maybe Tohu is the Burmese name? By the way, the new Thai cookbook my brother just bought me for a gift says that tofu can also be made from mung beans, which are apparently a very close relative to soybeans.

  • 3 cups chickpea flour (also called besan or garbanzo flour)
  • 15 cups water
  • 1 t. corn or peanut oil
  • 1/4 t. ground turmeric
  • 1 t. salt
  1. 1. Mix the chickpea flour and water together with a whisk or egg beater. Let stand overnight, about 12 hours.
  2. Next day, strain the mixture, 1/4 at a time, through a thin cotton cloth. Help the mixture through the cloth by stirring and pressing. Scrape out the residue from the cloth and discard it. let the strained liquid settle for 3 hours.
  3. With a soup ladle, carefully remove 6 cups of the liquid from the top of the mixture without disturbing the bottom. Discard the 6 cups liquid you remove.
  4. Rub the bottom of a large pot with the oil. Pour in almost all the remaining mixture (about 9 cups) and add the turmeric and salt. What remains at the bottom of the original pan is a thick chickpea sludge, about 1 cup. This should be reserved for step 5.
  5. Bring to a boil the 9 cups of mixture and cook over moderate heat 30 minutes, stirring continuously. At this time, add the reserved sludge, which will act as a thickening agent, and continue to cook over low heat for 10 minutes more, stirring the thick mixture firmly. Remove the pan from the heat.
  6. Line a 12×4 inch tray (a large loaf pan is good), 3 inches deep, with clean cotton cloth. Turn outn the mixture into this and cool completely, uncovered, overnight. At this stage you may slice the firm tohu, it is ready to use.

Others’ Notes

After making it (but before tasting it) I went looking for others’ responses. I found two. One person on veganbodybuilding.com says:

I would describe the resulting product as gel-like but chalky (very much like polenta, actually); whereas, tofu is gel-like with a meatier chew/bite.
The Bofu does not brown well, (you have to use oil) meaning it will stick to the pan. When you try to turn it, you will leave a layer of it in the pan. This could be remedied by using a non-stick pan with oil; additional oil; or deep frying (which would probably taste good, but not very healthful!)
If I were to experiment, this what I’d be aiming: It needs to be creamier, have more chew, and binding (it has that cornmeal type of crumbliness). I would try various ingredients in combination to achieve this. Additionally, some more fat would help.

Another person on mothering.com says:

I once made chickpea curd. It was HORRID. Metallic silken tofu. Ugh. It was in a veg magazine and called “tohu”. I was never a silken tofu fan, preferring the chewier cakes. This stuff like like eating slimy gram flour. *shudders*

Okay, now I’m scared, especially since I didn’t really follow the instructions. I used a metal sieve rather than a cloth to strain it, then didn’t have a whole cup of sludge left so threw in some of the fibrous sludge I have sieved out. I also didn’t stir continually enough and the bottom burned. Then I got tired of stirring and threw the sludge in early. In the end the stuff was quite thick and a pleasant yellow, like polenta. I put it in the loaf pan to set, and it really does look a lot like polenta. I tasted some of the stuff warm out of the pot and it’s pretty mild tasting–not unpleasant but not much flavor at all.

It looked so much like polenta I tried slicing it really thin and baking it at a high temperature on an oiled cookie sheet. The outside did crisp up a bit, but unlike polenta, the inside did not get firmer as it baked but softer–the inside kind of melted, almost turning back to what it was like as an uncooked chickpea flour and water mixture. The taste was mild but pleasant–but not nearly as tasty as baked polenta. Rating: B-

Next I decided to try the ultimate fake-tofu test–scrambled nofu. I got my cast iron skillet nice and hot, added 1/2 Tbs. of olive oil, then smushed a 1/2 pound of nofu between my hands just like I would with tofu to crumble it. It browned nicely on one side, but then again started to “melt.” When I flipped it it was starting to resemble mashed potatoes in consistency more than tofu–or maybe semolina porridge like they eat in South India for breakfast. I added nutritional yeast, soy sauce, and black pepper and served up the fried mush. It was surprisingly tasty. The great yeast/soy flavors came through just as well as they do with tofu. I was impressed. Another great vehicle for the infamous yeast/soy combo. Yum. I actually think it would make a great filling in breakfast tacos, because it’s sort of a cross between fried mashed potatoes and scrambled eggs (because of the yellow and the protein, not the flavor or texture really). I served some of this to a friend and she really like it. She even asked for some of the nofu to take home with her! She made burritos out of it, and said her (quite carnivorous) husband really liked it. Rating: B

Lastly, I tried throwing diced nofu squares in miso soup. I threw them in after offing heat, but before the miso. They didn’t melt away as I expected. The consistency was surprisingly similiar to silken tofu in miso soup, but the flavor was much stronger. Not exciting, but not bad. B-.

I like this nofu enough to make it again, but the steps seem unnecessarily complicated. Wouldn’t it be great if you could make it just like polenta? Mix the chickpea flour and water (less water though) and cook on super low for an hour. I’m going to try it… If anyone gets to it before me, let me know if it works.

In the meantime, anyone have other ideas for uses for this weird and wondrous nofu?

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Couscous salad with dried tomato vinaigrette

December 31, 2006 at 6:27 am (C (1 star, edible), Grains, The Vegan Gourmet)

I bought whole wheat couscous ages ago, but I never used it because… I never cook with couscous. Trying to clean out my pantry for my move I dug up this couscous salad from the Vegan Gourmet by Susann Geiskopf-Hadler and Minday Toomay. I needed a potluck recipe and it seemed promising.

The dressing

  • 1/3 cup minced dried tomato
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 Tbs. red wine vinegar
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne
  • 1 Tbs. mustard seeds
  • 1 Tbs. cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup minced fresh cilantro leaves

The salad

  • 1 medium red bell pepper, roasted, peeled, and diced
  • 2 cups dried couscous
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. granulated garlic
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 1/4 cup minced red onion
  1. Roast the bell pepper.
  2. Mince the dried tomatoes. If they are too dry to mince, soak them in hot water 15-30 minutes. Drain the tomatoes well then mince them.
  3. Well ahead of time, make the dressing so the flavors can blend. Whisk together the oil, vinegar, oregano, salt, and cayenne. Place the mustard and cumin seeds in a dry, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat. Shake the pan frequently for 1-2 minutes, until the seeds begin to pop. stir the hot seeds into the oil mixture (they will sizzle). Add the dried tomato and cilantro. Stir, cover, and seet aside at room temperature for up to several hours, until you are ready to assemble the salad.
  4. Meanwhile, heat 3 cups of water in a covered saucepan until boiling. Stir in the couscous, salt, and garlic. Immediately cover, remove from the heat, and let stand 5 minutes. Transfer couscous to a serving bowl and fluff with a fork. Add the roasted red pepper to the bowl. Grate the cucumber into the bowl and add the onion. Toss together the vegetables and couscous. Stir the dressing vigorously and add to the salad. Toss to distribute everything.
  5. Makes 6 side-dish servings.

My Notes:

I didn’t have cucumber so julienned some radishes instead. This salad was actually quite similar to the Southwestern Quinoa Salad I’ve posted to this blog, but despite their similarities, I didn’t think this recipe is as good. I found the flavors to be a little harsher, and it seemed a tad greasy. Also, I missed both the nuts and the beans. My friend enjoyed it though, and I took it to a potluck and it all got taken–of course I don’t know if it was actually eaten.

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Hominy and Tomatillo Stew

December 31, 2006 at 2:19 am (B_minus (2 stars, okay), Dark leafy greens, soup, The Vegan Gourmet)

It’s hard to find vegetarian recipes that call for hominy and tomatillos. Most are simply a version of posole, which I have never had. I decided to try this posole recipe from the Vegan Gourmet by Susann Geiskopf-Hadler and Minday Toomay, which also includes sorrel, another rare ingredient in vegetarian cookbooks.

  • 1/2 cup hulled raw pumpkin seeds
  • 1 pound fresh tomatillos (about 10-12)
  • 1 cup firmly packed chopped sorrel
  • 3.5 cups homemade vegetable stock
  • 2 medium serrano chiles, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1 Tbs. canola oil
  • 3 cups white hominy (one 28 ounce can, drained)
  • 1/4 tsp salt

Topping additions:

  • minced white onion
  • diced avocado tossed with lemon juice
  • chopped raw or pickled jalepenos
  • dried oregano
  • lime wedges for squeezing into the soup
  • diced fresh tomatoes
  • minced fresh cilantro leaves
  • shredded lettuce
  1. Place the pumpkin seeds in a dry, heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Toast the seeds, shaking the pan occasionally, about 5 minutes. Seeds will turn golden brown and pop in the pan. Imeediately transfer to a bowl to cool. When cool, grind the seeds with a mortar and pestle or in a food processor to a fine meal consistency. Set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, peel the tomatillos. Place the tomatillos in a small saucepan with 1 cup water, cover the pan, and cook over medium heat 10 minutes. Tomatillos will be very soft. Drain the tomatillos and transfer them to a blender. Add the sorrel, 1 cup of the vegetable stock, the chiles, and garlic and puree thoroughly.
  3. Heat the oil in a heavy, deep pan over medium-high heat. Pour the tomatillo puree into the pan through a wire-mesh strainer, pressing with the back of a wooden spoon or rubber spatula to force the mixture through the mesh. The tomatillos seeds will remain in the strainer; discard them. Cook the puree for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the ground pumpkin seeds, reduce heat to low, and cook 10 minutes, occasionally stirring and scraping the bottom of the pan to prevent sticking.
  4. Add the remaining 2.5 cups stock, hominy, and salt to the pan. Increase the heat to medium high and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, prepare the toppings and place them in bowls or plates to serve alongsize the posole. When the soup is done, ladle into bowls and serve hot. Diners may add whatever combinations of toppings they like.

This recipe makes 4 main dish servings, or 6-8 appetizer portions.

My Notes:

This is a very interesting soup. Grainy and green and rich. Very unusual. It actually tasted Spanish rather than Mexican. I wonder if pozole has spanish influences? I unfortunately couldn’t find any sorrel so used chard instead. I also used canned tomatillos, so skipped the cooking step, although I did strain the pureed tomatillos. It’s odd that they call for the tomatillos to be peeled–I assume they mean that the husks not the peels should be removed. Both my canned tomatillos and hominy were already salted, so I didn’t add any salt. Still the soup was extremely salty. I guess using canned tomatillos was a bad idea, unless I can find some with less salt. When I went to add the last 2.5 cups of stock the soup looked so thin that I decided to hold off. I reduced the soup quite a bit but never needed to add the stock, not sure why.

I served the soup with avocado and cilantro, both of which were a nice addition, and lime, which contributed a pleasing acidity.

Update Aug 2007: I made this soup again, using fresh tomatillos this time. I still couldn’t find sorrel so subbed beet greens, and I didn’t have serranos so substituted one jalepeno, with the seeds. It was very spicy! Not unbearable but definitely noticeable. I ended up adding all the broth, but it wasn’t too watery. I left out the salt, but shouldn’t have, because we had to salt it at the table. This time I skipped the avocado aond I topped the soup with halved red and yellow cherry tomatoes, which were quite pretty. I served this soup to guests, and gave very small portions due to the spiciness, but everyone went back for seconds except me. I still find it a bit odd tasting–interesting and unusual, but I just don’t have the inclination to eat much of it. Derek, on the other hand, finished the remaining two bowls for lunch the next day.

Rating: B

Derek: A-

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