November 26, 2011
I altered our family tradition this year and made a tofu turkey instead of a stuffed seitan, and I thought I'd do a little step-by-step photo story as I made the dish. I really love when bloggers show the progress of a complex creation. Unfortunately, I'm not one of those people, though I seriously tried. The camera was in the kitchen, but my mind was preoccupied, and I only got so far. The recipe on which I based my tofu turkey is here. (I made my own version of stuffing.)
Before getting to the tofu, I started the day with a nod to the season and made a cranberry smoothie. It also had banana, frozen blueberries, frozen mango, a tablespoon of frozen OJ concentrate, lucuma powder (thanks, Ricki!) and almond milk. It was so pretty and delicious that I think frozen cranberries may become a regular smoothie ingredient. Suitably fortified, I moved on to the tofu business.
The following takes place the day before Thanksgiving.
Since pressing the tofu seemed key to getting the texture right, I first pressed my tofu for a few hours in my Japanese pickle press. The tofu was the fresh stuff from a Vietnamese tofu shop, and seemed quite firm, but I was amazed to see how much water came out of it, so I'm glad I took this extra step. Fresh tofu is much more flavorful than the supermarket variety, and I wanted my concoction to taste really good, but any extra-firm water-pack tofu would be fine.
After pressing, the tofu got puréed in a food processor. (I tried the VitaMix first, but that was too gross, and removing the tofu from the blender jar was horrible.) Next the seasonings were added. I used hickory smoked salt in the seasoning mix, not broth powder. In addition to the herbs in the recipe, I added some light yeast flavoring that I'd previously made from this recipe from Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner.* (She used to make and sell the Now and Zen Unturkey, which I've never actually tried, but the light yeast seasoning is very handy, and you might want to make some!)
The next step was to line a colander with cheesecloth, and pack the tofu into the colander, covering the top with the overhanging cheesecloth. A plate got placed on top of the cheesecloth and a weight was placed on the plate; in this case two boxes of veggie stock were placed on their sides atop the plate. This is where the communications between my brain and the camera broke down, and no further illustrative photos were taken. The tofu-packed colander was placed on a plate and went into the fridge overnight.
The following takes place on Thanksgiving day.
I made a stuffing with wild rice, brown basmati rice, toasted walnuts, onions, garlic, ginger, fresh sage and lots of baby bella mushrooms, all cooked to perfection in my trusty wok. Once the stuffing was made and cooled, the cheesecloth over the top of the tofu was pulled aside, and tofu was scooped out, leaving a rim of 1 to 2 inches. The resulting hole was filled with stuffing, and the tofu I had removed was smoothed over the top, forming a solid covering. (Still in the colander.) The next part was a little scary, but it worked perfectly.
To cook, the stuffed tofu was inverted onto a baking pan, and the cheesecloth-covered blob miraculously fell out without breaking. I carefully removed the cheesecloth and basted the mound, placed it into the oven, and removed and basted many times until it was done. In the end, I had to turn the oven up to 450˚F for about 20 minutes to crisp it up.
Voila! It emerged looking quite nice. I had planned to surround it with roasted veggies but miscalculated the amount of space it would take up on the serving platter, so settled for some parsley and a few tomatoes.
Here's a view of the inside. The recipe said it served six, but I knew that couldn't be right since five pieces of tofu were involved. In fact, we had lots of leftovers to send home with guests, and even though we ate it again last night, we STILL have leftovers. Next year: smaller tofu turkey or more guests!
In my next post, I'll show you what we actually had for our meal. Hope everyone who celebrated Thanksgiving, had a lovely time.
*Miyoko Nishimoto Schinner is the author of Japanese Cooking: Contemporary and Traditional, which I reviewed here. She is also the author of The New Now and Zen Epicure: Gourmet Vegan Recipes for the Enlightened Palate, and she writes a cooking blog called, The Vegan Manifesto.