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Sautéed Asparagus with Curried Tofu and Tomatoes

(recipe, Deborah Madison)


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Introduction

A coating of turmeric-laced curry turns the tofu from bright white to a rich, golden yellow. The tofu is also dusted with salt and sugar, then shallow-fried until it becomes crisp on the outside. The asparagus retains some of its crunch as well. Green beans, tipped and tailed, can be used in place of the asparagus.

Ingredients

  1. 1 carton firm tofu
  2. Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  3. ½ tsp. sugar
  4. ½ tsp. curry powder
  5. ¼ tsp. turmeric
  6. 2 Tbsp. plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  7. 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  8. 2 tsp. roasted ground cumin seeds
  9. 1 onion, finely diced
  10. ½ lb. slender asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut diagonally into 3-inch lengths
  11. Several pinches of red-pepper flakes
  12. 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped (see Note, above)
  13. 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

Steps

  1. Dice the tofu into pieces, each about the size of a sugar cube. Simmer the tofu in 6 cups salted water for 2 minutes, then remove with a strainer and place on paper towels. Wick the surface of the tofu with another paper towel, then toss the cubes with ½ teaspoon salt, some pepper, the sugar, curry powder, and turmeric.
  2. Heat the 2 tablespoons of oil in a wide skillet, add the tofu, and sauté over medium-high heat until golden but still tender, about 10 minutes in all. Turn the tofu so that all the surfaces are colored. Remove to a plate and cover to keep warm.
  3. Return the pan to the heat and adjust the heat to medium. Add the 2 teaspoons of remaining oil. When hot, add the garlic, 1½ teaspoons of the cumin, and the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent, then raise the heat to high.
  4. As soon as the pan feels hot, add the asparagus, pepper flakes, and a pinch or two of salt. Sauté just until the asparagus is bright green and tender, but not limp, about 5 minutes or so, the exact time depending on size. Add the tomatoes and tofu, and cook about 1 minute more. Turn off the heat and add the cilantro and remaining cumin.
  5. Slide everything onto a platter (use a bright blue one if you can) and serve immediately.

Note

Simmering the tofu in salted water keeps it from falling apart when cooked; the cooking and salt also round out the flavor.