Thursday, September 23, 2010

Tuesday, Sep 14 - Korean Cold Tofu Salad

I call this Tofu Salad quasi Korean because I cannot say that I have ever seen it in a restaurant or in other Korean homes.  Of course, it was invented by a Korean, my mom and it has typical Korean mise en place, Scallions, Sesame Oil, Sesame Seeds.  Mom started making this a few years ago during a really hot summer.  My folks have central air and in Toronto, it is essential.  Even so, the aged system, does not make the house dead cold like it used to.  To compensate, my folks have a number of space fans scattered around the house.  During the muggiest months in Toronto where it can it high 30'sC (~100F) with humidity, cool foods are a welcome salve. 

I'll admit the first time mom put cold, uncooked tofu in front of me, I had my doubts.  I had to admit to myself that it could not have been easy for her over the past couple of decades since I and my sister V gave up meat.  Korean's lurve meat!!  Well, love it in a historical cultural way that not alot of westerners may not understand.  I've been told by many Western folks who are interested in Korean cuisine and have been to Korea that they think Koreans probably love meat as much as Argentinians.  For Koreans, it's like a sort of cultural victory and celebration.  Meat and at time rice was only the foods for the extremely wealthy.   Foods like Kimchee were cheap and stored well.  Meat was expensive to buy, raise and store.  My parents did not have alot of meat growing up in Korea.  Now, the quality of living is light years from where it used to be and I think that Korean's are not revelling in it.  Having meat in our house as often as we did whilst growing up was mom and dad's way of saying, Ha! We can! 

Interestingly enough, my encyclopedia brained dad told me that alot of the meat eaten in Korea is rarely Korean raised meat.  Korean raised meat is still more expensive than imported meats including American and Canadian.  Wild.

So after fighting us on our vegetarianism by hiding meat in our food for a few years, Mom gave in and started improvising and now makes most of her Chigaes (stews) with fish or seaweed broth rather than pork bones or oxtails.  The Tofu Salad was one of these new things.  She will normally use fresh, organic, silken Tofu.  Mom's friend runs a Soon Dubu restaurant and shop and she makes fresh Tofu everyday.  It is nothing like the stuff I buy in vacuum pack plastic.  Still, it is pretty good.  I prefer the slightly firmer stuff than the Japanese silken variety that is too much like pudding.  The fresh Korean Dubu (tofu) has more structure than the Japanese desserty variety.  We eat this salad as a starter or side with plain rice with grilled, cooled fish in the summer.  When I am eating it as a craving, I will just eat it alone with some steamed rice. MMMMM

Korean Cold Tofu Salad
(serves 1)

150-200 g Cold Tofu (firmness you prefer)
2 T Low Sodium Soy Sauce
2 t Sesame Oil
1 Green Onion, chopped
1 t Sesame seeds
1/2 Chili, minced (optional)
1/2 t Chili flakes (optional)

Whisk all the ingredients below the Tofu.

Drain the tofu and cut the portion you want.  This was 1/2 a block for just me.  You can keep the other half covered in water in the fridge.  If it is organic, once it's open, forget the due date, it will only last 1-2 days more. 

Place on a plate and cut into bite sized cubes but leave it in the form of the original block.  Spoon over the dressing.  Serve chilled.

Soooooo good!


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