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Tofu with Spicy Peanut Soy Sauce: (version #1)

First added: 2012-08-01; Last edited: 2012-12-19

Stephen's "Tofu with Spicy Peanut Soy Sauce" (2012-12-18).

Author: Stephen Chin-Bow (Yale College).

Background: I will convert this recipe to also use weights, when I buy an accurate digital balance.

If I remember I will take photos the next time I make "tofu with spicy peanut soy sauce".

During college a friend Danny H ("Directed Studies" and Political Science ???) once prepared for dinner an Asian-inspired pasta with peanut-sesame sauce noodle dish for several friends.  It was a very tasty dish, but I remember Danny having difficulty when he was trying to mix the thick peanut butter and the cooked pasta.  My mother never made Chinese noodles with a peanut-sesame sauce, so I was not able to offer any suggestions.  In creating this YaleCooks recipe I share one "secret" which I have developed (mix the thick peanut butter with the soy sauce and chili sauce first, before combining it with the noodles, or in this recipe, with the sliced tofu).

I think this recipe is easier to prepare using a microwave.  Heating the tofu in a pot, on a stove, requires a little stirring which may result in the tofu cubes breaking (definitely a concern if "soft" tofu is used).

This recipe was prepared and shared during a YaleCooks potluck dinner (2012-09-26).

Essential Supplies & Ingredients: (makes enough for two or three servings)

• 3 cakes tofu ("firm" tofu has more protein, but the texture of "soft" tofu is preferred by some); weight = 24 ounces
• peanut butter
soy sauce ("low salt" soy sauce was used to develop this recipe; discussed below)
• Asian spicy sauce (brands tested: Sambal Oelek "fresh chili paste" and Sriracha "hot chili sauce"; discussed below)


Preparing the Tofu: Cut each tofu cake in half (forming two equal "squares").  Then cut each "half" into four smaller squares.  Place on a large plate and microwave until hot. [prepare sauce now.] Pour off any liquid which may appear during the heating.

Preparing the Sauce: While the tofu is heating combine the sauce ingredients in the following ratio: 3 T peanut butter + 3 T soy sauce + 2 T Sambal Oelek "fresh chili paste" (a 3:3:2 ratio, but see below).  Mix together until a smooth paste is formed.  Spoon over the tofu.  If there is extra sauce save in the refrigerator or freezer.

Other Options:

On a hot summer day it may not be necessary to heat the tofu.  Asian egg noodles may be used instead of tofu.

Adding some coconut milk or tahini paste might add another level of flavor complexity.

Adding some finely minced scallion (green onion) or cilantro ("Chinese parsley") might be nice.

Assessment and Possible Improvements:

This recipe is tasty, but the balance is a little off.  I may reduce the amount of soy sauce next time (possibly trying a 3:2:2 peanut butter:soy sauce:Sambal Oelek "fresh chili sauce" ratio).

The 3:2:2 ratio (using "low" salt soy sauce) is preferred by several friends.

In December, 2012 I made this recipe with Sriracha "hot chili sauce" and Japanese soy sauce using a 3:3:3 ratio (the photograph shows the dish).  When the chili hot sauce replaces the fresh chili paste the flavor seems more even and balanced.

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