Part II Shaken and Stirred

Previously, on Tofu Trek:

Lendie, my charming vegan chat companion and record-setting tofu gobbler, was comatose due to a lack of legitimate protein in her diet, and she departed consciousness prior to leaving me a recipe. The recipe was essential, given that I had a bowl filled with cubed, brined tofu in the refrigerator.

I really didn’t know what I was going to do with this stuff. It looked respectable enough in its nesting bowl. It even tasted edible. When in doubt, apply heat. I opted to fry a few cubes in a small amount of olive oil.

Experiment One:
My first observation was that the little white squares could quickly become little stuck-on brown blobs if left unattended. These initial bits were scraped from the pan (and eaten! Quite tasty!) Sadly, I could only fry a precious few at a time. Several cookbooks recommended deep frying.

Do we have any oil in this house other than Italian from the Strip or flavored? Yes. Somewhere. It’s Canola. Does oil go rancid? Probably. Luckily for us, this bottle was good.

Experiment Two:
Wheeler’s Laws of Tofudynamics - An object that was once part of a single mass will attempt to return to a single mass state when subjected to hot oil.

Seriously. I’d place the cubes into the hot oil and they would quickly gravitate towards each other like rabid bean curd particles from a bad science experiment.

“What did you make today?” I made a new element: Tofunium.

As I watched those little cubes morphing into a golden version of the T-1000 from Terminator 2 (say it with me now - Tofurminator), I was forcefully reminded of Mrs. M, in Colorado.

Mrs. M was born and raised in Heilongjiang Sheng (the Heilongjiang Province, in China) and a devout Buddhist. She was also my neighbor, briefly, and I (being a starving student) would visit her in the hopes of a free meal.

She was a quirky woman, stepping straight out of the pages of an Amy Tan book. She had a Chinese accent. She would count on her fingers, folding each one down towards the palm of her hand rather than sticking each digit up in the air as an American would. She was nosy and she had a lot of houseplants.

“Tofu cubes sticking. What do? I tell you. What would Asian Jesus do? He’d stir the pot.”

I have no idea why that came to mind, but it did, and so I stirred, fighting to keep the damn things from reforming. I found myself reflecting upon Mrs. M’s two Jesuses. (The Asian one was the right one, in her opinion. The Anglo one was an imposter who wanted to take away all of China’s languages and culture – as well as China’s money and riches. It really didn’t make much sense to me, considering that she was Buddhist, but it was her father’s Opinion and thus was it Valid.)

In the meantime, Better Half has been popping into the kitchen at regular intervals. “They don’t have taste”, he’d proclaim; only it would come out “Pfey don ha fphase” because his mouth was filled with tofu each time.

I finished up the frying (with much less food than I started with), turned the brine into a broth by adding plenty of chicken stock (instant miso soup), and tossed in some chopped green onions.

The experiment was over – the end result was a tofu meal that Better Half actually liked.


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