One of the downsides of this aging thing is that you can’t eat what you used to. It seems like only yesterday that Pepsi and a chocolate doughnut (Entenmann’s, of course) was the go to breakfast of champions. Suddenly I’m being bombarded with enemies like cholesterol and sodium and trans-fats. Since I’m not just in charge of my own health anymore, I figured it was time to start paying attention and do what I could to make my dietary world a healthier place.
Thus, my friend Tofu was invited into the house. My brief experience with Tofu was during my pre-teen stint at vegetarianism. Impressively, it lasted a year. (Do I have to share that it was abandoned for a McDonald’s cheeseburger?) During this year, I cooked my own meals when my parents had red meat for dinner. I prepared a fair amount of tofu during this time, but I’m pretty sure I just doused it with salad dressing.
Now, I’m a good cook. I don’t feel the need to be modest with that statement. As good cooks know, you get to forego any modesty about your cooking skills in exchange for sacrificing being able to go out to a restaurant to enjoy a good meal, because most of the time you end up paying too much for a meal that you could have cooked better, and the person across from you keeps reminding you of that. I, of course, retort with my standard reply that every once in a while I require a meal to be served to me, without any effort or clean-up on my part, and if they know another way of that happening, I’d be more than willing to give it a try.
So, I can cook. And there’s tofu sitting next to a pile of chopped stir fry vegetables on my counter, thus the time has come to back the statement up with some action. I whip together a little Thai peanut sauce marinade, get my pan and utensils out, and then something weird happens. I get cold feet.
Half of cooking is instinct. The other half is experience. I am confident in my ability to know what flavors complement each other, in knowing what method of cooking to use, in knowing what wine to pair with the meal, but how long do you cook Tofu for? Do you just heat it? I tried calling on memory, but my lifespan has almost tripled since the last time I cooked Tofu. So I Googled it on my phone in the kitchen.
I then find out from a helpful blogger that Tofu should be pressed and drained for at least a half hour, if not overnight, before cooking. Whoops. Not gonna happen. The package says to store leftover Tofu in water. It makes no sense. I’m confused. I quickly sliced the Tofu, squished it flat between some paper towels, and read on. She goes on to say that you should then marinade it, so I pop it into my marinade right as I read that the water in Tofu doesn’t like oil, so you should use an oil free marinade. It seems to me that that little gem of advice should have come at the beginning of the sentence, but it’s too late, so I keep reading. I see cornstarch, which is good because I have some, so I pull it out and put some on a plate to dip the marinaded Tofu in.
By then, I’m bored of reading what I should do. I’m a good cook, I probably won’t mess it up too bad. I’ll cook it until I feel like putting it on a plate. I cooked the Tofu my way, and it was good.
So what was I worrying about? My instincts didn’t fail me. They even whispered to me a surefire way to make the Tofu taste even better next time. Cook it with bacon.