creamed corn over tofu

This is the kind of dish you make on a rainy Sunday evening when you crave the comfort of white rice. I added chopped baby bok choy sautéed in a little minced ginger because it was on hand and needed to be cooked up soon. I always seem to forget the garnishes so I have made them for serving at table so that people can put them on as they wish.

Creamed Corn over Tofu (adapted from Hetty McKinnon, NY Times Cooking)

Yield: 2-4 servings

400g silken tofu (I used medium tofu)

1 1/2 cups fresh corn kernels (from 1 1/2 fresh corn on the cob)

1 tablespoon rice bran oil

1 tablespoon peeled and minced fresh ginger root

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 scallions, finely sliced, divided

1 1/2-cups vegetable stock (I used chicken)

salt and white pepper to taste

1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water

Cilantro leaves and stems, chopped, for serving

Drizzle of sesame oil or chili oil, for serving

Gently pat dry the tofu if they are packed in water. Slice into 1/2 inch thickness and arrange in a single layer on a microwaveable plate or glass dish. Set aside.

Process 3/4 cup of the corn kernels until creamy but still chunky.

In a large skillet or wok, heat the pan over medium high heat. When the pan is hot, add the oil. When the oil is hot, add the ginger, garlic, and 2 of the sliced scallions. Cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add the processed corn, the whole kernels, and the stock. Cook 2-3 minutes until it bubbles around the edges. Add the cornstarch slurry, stirring constantly, until thickened. Add salt and white pepper to taste. Sprinkle over the remaining scallions. Remove from heat.

Heat the tofu gently in the microwave, 60-90 seconds. Remove the dish from the microwave and spoon over the creamed corn. Serve at once with steamed rice, chopped cilantro, and sesame oil and/or chili oil for drizzling.

That’s it. Easy peasy.

vegetarian japchae

About halfway through Lent and my meatless journey. Sigh. To keep my tastebuds engaged I have to be inventive. So I adapted this beef japchae dish to make it vegetarian simply by substituting tofu for beef tenderloin. It was delicious.

Vegetarian Japchae

Tofu Marinade
1 1/2 cups extra firm tofu cut into strips
4 cloves garlic minced
1 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1/4 teaspoon or to taste ground black pepper

5 oz dangmyeon (Korean sweet potato starch noodles)
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1/2 tablespoon sugar
2 tablespoons low sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons sesame oil

Everything Else
1 bunch fresh spinach, chopped into 1 1/2 inch pieces
3 tablespoons vegetable oil, divided, plus more if needed
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup onion, thinly sliced
1 cup carrots, sliced into thin strips
1 cup red bell pepper, sliced into thin strips
5 fresh shiitake mushrooms, stemmed, caps cut into 1/4 inch strips, stems discarded (save stems to make vegetable broth)
Sea salt
Ground black pepper
2 green onions cut on the bias

For the marinade: combine tofu with garlic, sugar, soy sauce sesame oil and black pepper in a small bowl. Cover and marinate until ready to cook. Set aside.

For the noodles: add noodles to a large bowl of warm water and allow to soften, 15-20 minutes. Drain noodles, rinse with cold water and drain well. Toss noodles with sesame seeds, sugar, soy sauce, and sesame oil; set aside.

Cook spinach: In a wok, bring about an inch of water to a boil. Quickly cook the spinach on high heat until it turns bright green. Drain and rinse in cold water to stop the cooking and set the color. Set aside.

Cook eggs: Heat wok over high heat. When hot, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. Add beaten eggs. Swirl to cover bottom of pan. Cook until underside is set, about 1 minute. Flip. Cook until set, about 1 minute. Remove from pan to a large plate. When cool, cut into thin strips and set aside.

Cook veg: In the empty pan/wok, add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil. On high heat, stir-fry onions, carrots, and bell pepper until crisp tender, about 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from pan and set aside.

Cook mushrooms and tofu: Add 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, if needed. On high heat, stir-fry mushrooms until browned. Then add tofu, reserving marinade, and cook, turning frequently, until just browned.

Assemble japchae: Add the sweet potato noodles. Taste. If more flavor is desired, add reserved marinade. Stir-fry until hot, 1-2 minutes. Add all reserved ingredients, except shredded egg. Stir fry until heated throughout, 1-2 minutes. Taste. Add salt and pepper as needed. Garnish with egg strips and green onions. Serve immediately.