Soy-Mirin Tofu with Snow Peas and Peanut Sauce
The other morning, as I walked from the office kitchen to my desk, tea in hand, I craved peanut sauce. I needed it. And right at that moment. No matter that it was ten A.M. or that the smells in the air consisted of nothing more than over-roasted coffee and fake-maple-laden instant oatmeal (and a few things less savory, I’m sure). I wanted peanut sauce. But not just any peanut sauce. I wanted the vinaigrette-thin, slightly grainy peanut sauce from Vegan Yum Yum, the one that accompanies soy-mirin-glazed tofu and blanched snow peas.
It took me a long time to come around to peanut sauce, and I can blame it all on one thing: Peanut Sauce Delight. The Vietnamese/Thai/Japanese restaurant I worked at after college had a truly repellent dish by that name on the menu. Once in a while a customer would be swayed by it, and any waitress who wanted a decent tip would do everything in their power to unsway them. But if that failed we would have to deliver a bowl filled with peanut sauce, a smattering of broccoli, and a few pieces of tofu/chicken/beef, served with a very inadequate portion of mostly dried up, often leftover (and sometimes, if the owner was around, “saved” from another diner’s plate) jasmine rice. Let me repeat that: a bowl filled with peanut sauce. But this wasn’t any peanut sauce. This was the same thick, gloppy mixture that accompanied the satay appetizers—and was too rich in even that small amount. It resembled nothing so much as peanut butter soup with broccoli croutons. And I never once saw anyone eat more than a few bites.
But once I got over the horrors of Peanut Sauce Delight, I began to embrace peanut butter as a suitable ingredient in Asian dishes. When mixed with sweetness and acid, such as lime juice or rice wine vinegar, and used sparingly, it could be downright delicious. This sauce serves as more of a garnish, giving the rice, tofu, snow peas, and shredded carrots the perfect hint of salty and sweet.
I used the recipe in the Vegan Yum Yum cookbook, but this recipe is nearly identical except for the broccoli. I may never recover from Peanut Sauce Delight enough to accept the combination of broccoli and peanut sauce.
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