March 12, 2011

Black Pepper Tofu with Black Garlic Noodles

Have you heard of black garlic? It's garlic... that's black.  It comes with a reputation for having lots of umami, which may or may not be my new favorite word, by the way.  I found it at Whole Foods one day, and had read a few recipes that used it but wasn't entirely sure what to do with it for a while.  I cut open some cloves and smeared it on bread with arugula pesto and fresh ricotta, stirred it into a sweet potato hash, but neither application really highlighted the black garlic flavor.  This recipe did exactly what I wanted.  It was phenomenal.  

Black garlic is fermented garlic.  It has the most subtle yet profound garlic flavor, the extra complexity you'd expect from a fermented product, but none of the usual funkiness fermented foods have (think kimchi or sauerkraut).  While raw garlic is a spicy-slap-of-garlic, and roasted garlic is a sweet-and-sticky-wet-kiss-of-garlic, black garlic is like a sexy-slow-dance-with-the-Don-Draper-of-garlic.  The flavor has been described (by persons of greater palate than myself) as having hints of licorice or balsamic vinegar.  I'm not sure how to describe it except as "black garlic."  But it tastes absolutely fantastic, and if you stumble on it, don't pass it up. It will be that little something extra in your dish, whether it's this little noodley number or a simple roasted chicken.   
Black Pepper Tofu
1 block extra-firm tofu
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 cup black pepper sauce (we used Trader Joe's brand)

As I've mentioned before, I'd recommend freezing your tofu before using it.  Thaw at room temperature for 8-12 hours, or in the fridge for 24-26 hours.  Remove from packaging, and press to remove as much moisture as possible.  (Place clean towels on a plate.  Put the tofu block on the towels, top with more clean towels, and then use a cast iron pan or skillet with heavy object- such as canned beans- on top.  Change towels as needed.  Press for about an hour.)  Cut tofu into bite-sized cubes or rectangles.  In a bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, and black pepper sauce.  Toss the tofu until completely coated.  If you need more liquid, add more black pepper sauce.  Refrigerate until ready to use (up to 6 hours).

Heat a pan with vegetable oil to medium-high.  Add the tofu in a single layer and fry on each side until well browned and crispy- about 7 minutes each side.  Drain on a paper towel-lined plate. 

Black Garlic Sauce
adapted from OuiChef
1 head of black garlic
1 small knob of ginger, minced or microplaned
pinch of sugar
3/4 cup vegetable stock
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbsp rice vinegar
1 tsp sesame oil

Combine all ingredients except oil in a small saucepan and bring to a boil.  Reduce for about 20 minutes, then add the oil and pulse in food processor until it's a smooth sauce.  Taste for seasoning, return to pot, and simmer for another 10 minutes, or longer for a thicker sauce. 

Carrot and Daikon Pickles
1 daikon radish
3 carrots
1/4 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup hot water
3 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt

Cut the radish and carrots in to large matchsticks and place in a container with a tight-fitting lid that will hold all of them snugly.  Mix the liquid ingredients together and pour over the vegetables.  Refrigerate overnight.

Assembly (serves about 4)
12-16 oz. rice noodles
carrot/daikon pickles
handful of Thai basil leaves

Cook noodles according to package instructions, drain, and toss with the black garlic sauce.  Chop a handful of the pickles into small cubes.  Chiffonade the basil leaves, then mix with the pickles.  In each bowl, lay a pile of noodles, then dd several pieces of tofu, a small pile of pickle/basil blend, and chopsticks. 

No comments:

Post a Comment