Last week, I was paging through my copy of Plenty, settling on my menu for tomorrow night's One for the Books dinner (now it can be revealed: I am hosting a party to benefit John Jermain Library). A recipe for Black Pepper Tofu caught my eye and I prepared it for the children. It was fantastic as only a dish with 12 cloves of garlic, 3 kinds of soy sauce, and a stick of butter can be, but the children insisted that the fried tofu cubes alone were the best part. So last night I bought more tofu, cut it into fingers, dusted it with cornmeal, and served it on its own, with a quick tomato sauce for dipping. Don't my tofu fingers look like the mozzarella sticks from Espresso? Almost a pound of tofu disappeared in minutes, and we could have eaten more. Here is the recipe:
Pan-Fried Tofu Fingers with Tomato Sauce
Serves 3 to 4
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
One 14-ounce can diced tomatoes, pureed in a blender or food processor
One 14-ounce package extra-firm tofu
1/4 cup cornmeal
Vegetable oil for frying
1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic, oregano, and hot red pepper flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the pureed tomatoes and cook, stirring every once in a while, until thickened, about 15 minutes. Cover and keep warm.
2. Slice the tofu into 12 fingers and drain on paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
3. Place the cornmeal in a shallow bowl and coat each tofu finger with cornmeal.
4. Heat about 1/2-inch of vegetable oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the tofu (cooking in batches if necessary; you don't want to crowd them) and cook, turning every minute or two, until golden and crisp on both sides. Briefly drain on paper towels and serve with tomato sauce on the side.