i’ve never been a big celebrator-of-new-yearses, spending most of my december 31sts huddled around a 3 hour movie on the couch with my family.
at the end of 2015, stubbornly convinced 2016 was gonna be such a good year and wanting to ring it in the right way, i tried to plan for a vaguely bigger celebration than that. ultimately failing to do so, this, in the end, involved indian food with alisha and then me falling sick into bed, not to get up again for literally a month.
after a year like that, i wanted to celebrate the arrival of 2017 with a well-deserved glass of champagne by 9:00, and then curling up into bed by 9:30. everything went according to plan.
having decided to embrace my grandmotherly tendencies (a bedtime of consistently 8:30, a dislike of loud noises unless it involves loudly reminding people to eat their vegetables, commiserating with some of the older customers at work about health issues, etc etc), i am kind of hoping that this year’s new year’s celebration sets the tone for the entirety of 2017. while i am all about the importance of living life to the fullest or whatever, 2016 was a rough one, so i’ve heard, and i think we all deserve a little break.
this tofu recipe is a good one for when you just need to spend an evening with a blanket, a big bowl of comforting food, a beloved pet on your lap, and a cup of tea. for big flavors that give you a feeling of boldness without having to leave your living room. named after the purple-and-greenness of everyone’s favorite childhood friend or nightmare, and inspired by a handful of recipes i’ve considered staples over the year, here’s barney tofu. i hope you like it.
- 1 and ¼ cups coconut milk
- 2 and ¾ cups water
- 1 and ½ tsp salt
- 1 and ½ cups jasmine or regular long-grain rice
- 1 bunch cilantro, roughly chopped
- 1 cup unsalted peanuts
- juice of 1 lime
- 4 cloves garlic
- 3 tbsp canola oil
- 1 tbsp garlic chili paste
- 1 package firm tofu, pressed at least 30 minutes
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 3 tbsp sesame oil
- 4 tbsp soy sauce (gluten free, if needed)
- 1 bunch mustard greens (or other bitter, leafy greens such as bok choy)
- ½ head purple cabbage, sliced
- 1 tbsp sugar
- 3-5 dried chili peppers, broken up
- 2 tbsp rice vinegar
- 2 scallions - white and green parts thinly sliced
- To make the coconut rice: Combine the coconut milk, water, and 1 tsp salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then add rice. Cover, reduce heat to low, and let rice cook 25 minutes.
- To make the peanut, chili, lime sauce: Combine the cilantro, ½ cup peanuts, lime juice, and 2 garlic cloves in a blender or food processor. With the machine running, slowly add the oil until everything is roughly combined. Add in the chili paste and mix with a spoon. Set mixture aside.
- To make the tofu and greens: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the pressed tofu into ½ inch cubes. Toss cubes with cornstarch and arrange them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 20 minutes, then take out and flip the cubes over. Bake another 15-20 minutes until golden brown. Finely mince the remaining 2 cloves of garlic. Heat 1 tbsp sesame oil in walk or large skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and saute 1-2 minutes. Add 2 tbsp soy sauce and stir. Toss tofu in the mixture until fully coated. Then add the mustard greens and remaining ½ cup peanuts. Stir, and cook until the green have just wilted. Remove from heat and mix in the peanut chili sauce. Cover to keep warm.
- To make the hot-and-sour cabbage: Heat oil in wok or large skillet. Add cabbage and stir fry over high heat 3-5 minutes until the cabbage is soft. Add salt, sugar, remaining 2 tbsp soy sauce, and chili peppers and cook and additional minute. Turn off heat, add vinegar and 2 tbsp sesame oil, and stir until thoroughly mixed.
- Serve the cabbage and tofu/greens piled on top of a bowl of coconut rice and sprinkled with scallions. Enjoy!