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February 14, 2011

Thai Coconut-Crusted Tofu Hearts and a GIVEAWAY!


I will never forget my first time cooking with tofu. I was a sophomore in college and the dish was stir fry with tofu. Clueless, yet lucky enough to choose the right kind of tofu for my purposes, the extra firm variety. I drained the water out of the package and plopped the cold, wet block of tofu down on my cutting board and proceeded to cut it into 1" cubes. I chopped up some veggies too, and added everything all at once into a hot skillet. A few minutes later I had a pool of water in the bottom of my skillet. I clumsily drained the extra water out of the pan and continued to cook the mixture of tofu and veggies. When it was all said and done, by the time all of the water cooked out of the tofu, the veggies were obliterated.

I did not give up on tofu after this experience, but I did alter my technique. From then on the tofu always went into the pan first and cooked for 15 minutes or more on its own, until the water evaporated out and it started to crisp up. I was so proud of myself for conquering tofu.

A few years and many stir fries later my tofu world was turned upside down when someone gave me a copy of Vegan With a Vengeance. Not only did I discover there are many other uses for tofu beyond stir fries, I also learned that I should have been pressing the water out of the tofu before cooking it. Pressing goes like this: wrap the block of tofu in a clean dish towel or 3-4 layers of paper towels. Place wrapped block between two clean plates and balance heavy objects (books, pans, weights) on top and let sit for one hour to drain.

It was a tofu epiphany. Since then I have been doing the tofu draining balancing act, and as far as I knew things could not be better. Then a month ago came the game changer, the perfect tofu draining tool, resulting in the densest, and most perfectly chewy tofu I have ever experienced. The gadget I am referring to is the TofuXpress. For a month now I have been enjoying better drained tofu which fries up faster and soaks up marinades better. I cannot imagine going back to the old balancing act method!

TofuXpress

This is the TofuXpress in action. I was surprised by how sturdy this little gadget is. Constructed of thick plastic and a heavy duty spring -- you can really feel the force when you press the top piece down into place. Water starts pooling in the container instantly, and in an hour or less the tofu is well drained. For an even denser tofu you can leave it to drain for longer. The TofuXpress can also be used to press water out of other foods -- I am excited to try it out on frozen spinach, a food that I have never figured out how to efficiently press the water out of.


Now here is the really exciting part. TofuXpress is hosting a giveaway so that one of you can give this awesome gadget a try! More details on how to enter after the recipe.




I was excited to try marinating some tofu that had been pressed in the TofuXpress. I decided on a Thai red curry marinade and for a Valentine's Day twist I used heart shaped cookie cutters on the tofu. You could skip the hearts and cut the tofu into slabs instead (12-16 pieces per block), but then you will want to do 1-1/2 or even double the amount of coconut breading to make sure you have enough to cover all of the tofu. 

So often Thai curries involve veggies and tofu stir fried in oil and then immersed in a thick, coconut milk based sauce. My method involves using steamed veggies and a light drizzling of sauce, and the shining star heart is definitely the tofu! The tofu hearts are marinated, then dredged through a coconut breading and baked. By skipping the frying, the only fat in this dish comes from the bit of coconut, coconut milk, and peanut butter. Light and packed with flavor, just what I going for! I couldn't be happier with this dish or the TofuXpress. Don't forget to check the bottom of this post for details on how you can win a TofuXpress of your own!


Thai Coconut-Crusted Tofu Hearts
Serves 4

Will need a 3" and a 1" heart cookie cutter

1 lb extra firm tofu, pressed

Marinade
3 tsp Thai red curry paste
1 tsp creamy peanut butter (organic preferred)
1 tsp lime juice
1/2 cup lite coconut milk (or 1/4 cup regular + 1/4 cup water)
1 tsp ginger, minced
1 tsp garlic, minced

Sauce
reserved marinade
1 tbsp creamy peanut butter (organic preferred)
1/2 cup lite coconut milk (or 1/4 cup regular + 1/4 cup water)
1 tbsp lime juice

Coconut breading
heaping 1/3 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1-1/2 tbsp cornstarch
1-1/2 tbsp flour
1/4 tsp cayenne (optional, omit to keep this dish mild)

Accompaniments
steamed veggies and rice

Press tofu for 1 hour. Cut the block of tofu in half, depth-wise. Cut one 3" heart out of each of the two halves, and as many 1" hearts as you can fit (2-3 per block). Then cut each of your hearts in half depth-wise again, so that each heart is about 1/2" thick. You should have 4 large hearts and 8-12 small hearts. (Be sure to save your tofu scraps for tofu scrambles!)

Lay tofu hearts in a single layer on a rimmed baking dish. Whisk together marinade ingredients in a small bowl until smooth and then pour over the tofu. Flip the tofu to coat, then cover and refrigerate overnight (or for 1 hour if you are in a pinch).

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and grease a baking sheet. Mix the coconut breading in a small shallow bowl, and set up your tofu and baking sheet nearby. Pick up the tofu one piece at a time and use a spoon to scrape off excess marinade leaving it behind in baking dish (reserve this, you will be using the leftover marinade in the sauce). Dredge the tofu hearts through the coconut breading on both sides, being sure to coat the edges as well, and place onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all of the tofu is breaded. Spray the tops of the tofu hearts with a bit of cooking spray before putting into the oven. Bake for 20 minutes, and then flip, spray, and bake for 15 minutes more.

While the tofu is baking make the sauce. Whisk in the additional coconut milk, peanut butter, and lime juice into the leftover marinade. Transfer to a small pot and cook over low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Cover and remove from heat until you are ready to serve.

Prepare the rice and steamed veggies also while the tofu is baking. I chopped up a broccoli crown and 1 large carrot. In the last 2 minutes of steaming I added a can of straw mushrooms and a can of baby corn just to heat them up.

Serve rice and veggies on the bottom layer, drizzle with sauce, and top with one large tofu heart and 2-3 small hearts.





Congrats if you made it through this super long post! Your reward is this super awesome TofuXpress giveaway. There are many ways to enter, please leave a separate comment for each. You must live in the United States to win. The winner will be selected using a random number generator. The contest closes at midnight on February 20, 2011, and the winner will be announced on the 21st. 

For your first entry leave a comment telling me about your favorite tofu dish. For up to seven additional entries you may choose to do any or all of the following:

- follow @tofuxpress on Twitter 
- like TofuXpress on Facebook 
- subscribe to the TofuXpress newsletter at www.TofuXpress.com
- follow @ordinaryveg on Twitter
- like The Ordinary Vegetarian on Facebook
- tweet about this giveaway, including a link to this post and @ordinaryveg
- post about this giveaway on facebook, including a link to this post and @The Ordinary Vegetarian

Good luck!

94 comments:

  1. What a great post! I really like the heart-shaped tofu. Genius! It is great to say you have come a lonf way since your first tofu experience, eh? I heart my tofu Xpress! Thanks for the great giveaway!

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  2. I tweeted! http://twitter.com/singerinkitchen/status/37139236327006208

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  3. I like you on facebook already! :D

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  4. I posted it on my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/Singerinkitchen

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  5. I follow you on twitter already @singerinkitchen

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  6. I liked TofuXpress on Twitter!

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  7. I like tofuXpress on Facebook too!

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  8. Squee! Already following you on twitter!

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  9. And I like tofuXpress on facebook too!

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  10. Tweeted about it! http://twitter.com/#!/VeganliciousLJ/status/37141379524210688

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  11. Girl, I thought I hated tofu when I first tried to cook with it. I had no idea you were supposed to press it. It wasn't until I read that you can freeze it then thaw it that I started to really like it. It's a totally different texture. I don't know that I exactly have a fave recipe though. I change things all the time ;-)

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  12. I haven't been a vegetarian long (less than a month, officially!) but there's a restaurant in Memphis, TN that has BBQ Tofu on the menu: a sandwich, a wrap, a quesadilla... but my favorite is the nachos. AMAZING. And, in Memphis, you know we take bbq seriously :) I just followed you on facebook, too!

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  13. This recipe looks delicious!

    I follow you on twitter @ericasara

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  14. Don't enter me!!! I have one, LOVE it, and want someone else to enjoy one, too! Just wanted to comment that your recipe looks absolutely divine! YUM!

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  15. I like TofuXpress on Facebook

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  16. I subscribed to the TofuXpress newsletter at www.TofuXpress.com

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  17. I like The Ordinary Vegetarian on Facebook

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  18. I love a simple marinated tofu stir-fried hot and put on a cold salad.

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  19. Now following @tofuxpress on twitter!

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  20. Just "liked" you on Facebook! (Can you tell I really want to win ;)?)

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  21. And finally, I just subscribed to the TofuXpress newsletter!

    And incidentally, I am enjoying reading your blog :).

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  22. My favorite way to eat tofu is simply pan fried and doused in Frank's hot sauce.

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  23. That's so cute, heart shaped tofu. I've never cut out tofu into cute shapes but totally should... and will! :) I hope I win this tofu press, I've been wanting one for a while.

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  24. My favorite has to be the fried chicken tofu from Ann Jackson's Southern cookbook. It is freakishly delicious!

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  25. My favorite way to enjoy tofu is tofu benny on a home made english muffin.
    Love the blog and the heart shaped tofu!

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  26. I follow @tofuxpress on Twitter

    @bakingvinyl

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  27. I follow @ordinaryveg on Twitter

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  28. I like The Ordinary Vegetarian on Facebook

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  29. I tweeted about this giveaway, including a link to this post and @ordinaryveg

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  30. My favorite tofu disk is Tofurky on Thanksgiving because I can usually convert at least one skeptic into a believer.

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  31. I am a follower of @tofuxpress

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  32. I am a follower of @ordinaryveg

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  33. Following Ordinary Veg on Twitter

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  34. Following Tofu xpress on Twitter

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  35. Retweeted your giveaway post on Twitter

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  36. my favorite dish is sweet and sour tofu... mmm! :)

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  37. Man do I ever want one of those fancy press thingies! Compact tofu - what could be better? I feel like a gigantic nerd for having just said that :P

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  38. AND...I just realized I didn't provide a URL to contact me at! Sorry about this extra post!

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  39. My favorite tofu recipe is BBQ tofu. Stir fry cubed tofu and add in BBQ--so easy!

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  40. I added Tofu XPress as a friend on FB

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  41. I tweeted to my friends about Tofu XPress

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  42. And I signed up for the newsletter

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  43. I loved everything about this post! I can remember my own, sad tofu scrambles before I knew that pressing was a tofu deal-breaker. My favorite tofu recipe remains faux egg-salad filled with lots of celery. Plain, but true!

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  44. I like TofuXpress on Facebook (plus I just like em)

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  45. I shared the contest on Facebook.

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  46. I subscribe to the TofuXpress newsletter.

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  47. Happy Valentine's Day! Heart-shaped tofu in curry sauce? You'd win me over with a dish like that, easy. Looks delicious all around.

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  48. I'm just gonna take a chance and leave one comment. My favorite recipe using tofu is to marinate it over-night in italian dressing and fresh rosemary and basil. Then I bbq it with red peppers and shiitake mushrooms that have also been marinated! Mangia!

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  49. I adore tofu but hate how annoying it is to press it! Awesome giveaway! First of all, I love your crispy delicious heart shaped tofu. Too cute.

    My favorite tofu dish has to be this tofu and tempeh peanut mole I made last year. So good.

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  50. I'm in the UK, so can't enter, but I wish I'd known all that before I started my tofu quest!http://wedonteatanythingwithaface.blogspot.com/2011/01/on-quest-for-tasty-tofu.html
    I'll follow you on twitter anyway though!

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  51. My fav tofu dish has to be a plain old tofu scrabble with lots of veggies and lots of curry. Sure hope I win the tofu press!

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  52. Oh, I have wanted one of these for ages! Such a neat little tool. Your dish looks AMAZING & I am definitely going to try it whether or not I win. :)

    I can't really choose a favorite tofu dish because I have hardly had tofu in a way that I didn't like!

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  53. my favorite tofu dish is ma po tofu. yummy yummy!

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  54. Wow! This looks and sounds incredible! I love the spices you used and the wonderful use of coconut. :)
    And a tofu press- Count me in for the giveaway!!!

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  55. hellllooooooo, Sarah. i'm good on the tofu press, but i wanted to say that your first tofu experience sounded just like mine. ah ha ha! i absolutely loooove your thai coconut-crusted heart of 'fu! they look divine and sound super stellar! sooo gonna have to make these - mayve i'll whip up some spring rolls with a nice peanut sauce to accompany them too. yum!

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  56. My favorite tofu dish is wine marinated tofu. It's pressed and then marinated in red wine, balsamic vinegar, oil, and spices. While the tofu is baking, I make a red wine sauce to pour over it. Its full bodied flavor is delicious and savory.

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  57. I'm following TofuXpress on Twitter!

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  58. I am following TofuXpress on Twitter as @veggiehearts!

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  59. Following ordinaryveg on Twitter!

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  60. I retweeted about the giveaway!

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  61. Favorite tofu dish - baked tofu coated with EVOO, tamari, nooch, with lemon sage gravy.

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  62. your little hearts are amazing!
    I've been peeking at these tofu xpresses for a while... I keep hoping to win one!

    I actually really love tofu... but right now my favorite tofu dish is probably the Zesty Orange Mojo Tofu from "Viva Vegan"... it's soooooooo good!

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  63. Teriyaki tofu, hands down, no contenders: press the tofu until bone dry (that's why I need a Tofu Xpress!!!) marinate in teriyaki sauce, skewer, and grill along with onions, peppers, mushrooms, and cherry tomatoes. Waaah! I want it to be summer now!

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  64. My favorite Tofu dish is a tofu scramble with peppers & vegan sausage & vegan cheese in a whole wheat wrap. I would love to win this, I could better master tofu, this would be great. The recipe above sounds excellent! Teriyaki, I'll have to try it if I win!

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  65. Just liked you on Facebook. I am a lifelong vegetarian and I almost always make my tofu one way: the stiry-fry tofu from Bettina Vitell's A Taste of Heaven and Earth. Important to press first!

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  66. I love your heart of tofu and the coating Sarah and what a great gadget!

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  67. I'm a simpleton but I love tofu scramble with lots of veggies the best!

    msred5 at yahoo dot com

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  68. I'm a fan of TofuExpress on Facebook.

    msred5 at yahoo dot com

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  69. I'm a fan of Ordinary Vegetarian on Facebook!

    msred5 at yahoo dot com

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  70. Posted on my Facebook and tagged The Ordinary Vegetarian.

    msred5 at yahoo dot com

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  71. I've never made coconut crusted tofu but have wanted to! I love that you baked them instead of frying them (and of course those hearts are SO cute!) I used to press my tofu but now I never do just because I don't want to wait for it haha.

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  72. This is really delicious, I love the taste and the crust. Thanks.

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