When we think of beans, we may think of pork and beans, red beans and rice or perhaps cassoulet, see here but automobiles? Really? Automaker Henry Ford grew acres and acres of soybeans, intending to make a soybean plastic to build cars out of them. He made one prototype in 1941 but World War II priorities killed the program. Ford, a believer in agriculture uses for industrial use did use soybean-based plastic for gearshift knobs, horn buttons and such.
While soybean use in
Asia goes further back, the American chemist George Washington Carver, in 1904, detailed how valuable a foodstuff soybeans are. Not just the bean’s oil or the protein in the meal but the huge concentration of vital minerals as well. Carver also related how exceptional planted soybeans were for farmland soil enrichment.
I think the best use of soybeans is in producing bean curd, which the Chinese call tofu. Many people turn up their noses when I mention tofu but it really is a miracle food. Vegetarians can appreciate tofu for the high protein content but so can anybody, because properly prepared; tofu makes a superlative culinary contribution. I have been preparing Italian –style stuffed shells with it for years. See here
A great tofu dish for neophytes is a crispy one with a couple of colourful vegetables in a sweet and hot sauce. These crispy, golden cubes are aromatic and spicy and sure to thrill your taste-buds. You may already have all the groceries for the tofu in your pantry. So please give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Really.
Crispy Tofu with Chili Soy Sauce serves 4
1 pound of firm tofu
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
2 Garlic cloves, sliced thinly
1 Carrot, cut into julienne sticks
1 Green or red bell pepper, cut into julienne sticks
1 Small red chili pepper, seeded and minced or ¼ teaspoon dried red pepper flakes or 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper. Adjust according to taste
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 Tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon fish sauce (aka nam pla or nuoc mam)
2 tablespoons brown sugar
- Thoroughly drain the tofu, first on a wire rack, then on paper towels.
- Cut into small cubes (3/4 “) or slice horizontally so you have ¼ “ planks and then cut them into one inch squares (they will be like wafers)
- Place them on fresh paper towels to absorb any excess moisture
- Heat a large skillet till warm, add the oil and slowly heat.
- Increase the flame to high and add the garlic
- Fry garlic, stirring all the while and remove when golden and set aside
- Add the tofu, let sit a minute or two, and then carefully turn when golden brown. You might want to do small portions at a time. Adjust flame so as not to burn
- Take out the tofu and drain on wire rack or paper toweling, keep warm
- Put the carrot and bell pepper into skillet and stir-fry one minute
- Put the tofu into a serving dish or the individual plates and put the stir-fry atop it
- Combine the last five ingredients in a bowl
- Stir the mixture to dissolve the sugar
- Pour over the tofu and top off with the garlic slices.
How hard is that? Not. But wait, the taste is so awe-inspiring you will stock tofu regularly. Really.