Toasted Sesame Tofu Caramelized with Agave Nectar, Wasabi and Soy Sauce
There are many sweet and sour flavor combinations in Asian cuisine, but I've gotten bored with the traditional hoisin plum sauce. For this preparation I added agave as the sweet element in the dish. I've been experimenting with agave nectar that I got on my last trip to Florida.
Agave has a complex flavor that is sort of a cross between honey and caramel, but milder. Tofu absorbs any flavor it comes in contact with and is perfect for the agave sauce. The dish is finished with some toasted sesame seeds for added crunch.
Yields: 4 servings¼ cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons ginger paste, freshly grated
3 teaspoons wasabi powder
1 tablespoons water
1 teaspoon rice vinegar
2 tablespoons lime juice, freshly squeezed
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ cup shiitake mushrooms, sliced
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon brown sugar
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
4 tablespoons canola oil, as needed
1 (12-ounce) package firm tofu
1 drizzle toasted sesame oil, optional
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
2 green onions, chopped
Stir together agave nectar, ginger, wasabi, water, rice vinegar, brown sugar, lime juice and paprika in a bowl.
Drain any liquid from the tofu. Pat dry with a paper towel. Slice the block of tofu into 1 inch thick pieces.
In a wok, heat the oil and fry the tofu slices; transfer to a plate.
In the same wok, add a little more oil if necessary. Cook the minced garlic for about a minute until slightly golden. Add the mushrooms. Sauté them in garlic for about 1-2 minutes. Transfer to a separate plate. The mushrooms should be a little undercooked as they will finish cooking in the sauce.
Over high heat, add the soy sauce-wasabi mixture to the wok. Add the sliced tofu immediately. The tofu should be coated with all the sauce as it reduces and thickens. Add the mushrooms and finish with the green onions and cilantro.
Serve the tofu drizzled with the sauce and topped with toasted sesame seeds. Drizzle a little sesame oil on the dish.
Serve with wild rice. If you want to get some greens in your diet, add some steamed broccolini with hoisin sauce, quickly stir-fried pea shoot tendrils (delicious Asian baby greens) with slivered garlic and dried chiles or sautéed bean sprouts.
Eat with chopsticks and enjoy!
To obtain ginger paste, clean the root and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife. Grate the ginger with a fine mesh microplane using the sliding tool. Gather about 2 tablespoon of grated ginger root.
Wasabi is a green colored horseradish powder. You can get it in any Korean store. I get mine at the Marina -10122 Bandley Drive -Cupertino, CA 95014. They also have a great food-court.
If you like a darker color and a spicier flavor, you can add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of cayenne powder to the sauce.
Agave nectar, sometimes called agave syrup, is a natural sweetener. In France, it's called Agave honey. Unlike honey, agave nectar has a long shelf life and does not crystallize over time. Agave nectar is made out of the purified sap of cactus-like desert plants. It is very popular in Mexico.
It is not heated during production and is considered raw, which make it very healthy like raw honey. Unlike raw honey however, agave nectar is easy to spread because of its consistency.
Published By: on March 20, 2009.