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Sautéed Asparagus with Curried Tofu and Tomatoes
(recipe, Deborah Madison)
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.
- 1 carton firm tofu
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- ½ tsp. sugar
- ½ tsp. curry powder
- ¼ tsp. turmeric
- 2 Tbsp. plus 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 2 tsp. roasted ground cumin seeds
- 1 onion, finely diced
- ½ lb. slender asparagus, tough ends trimmed, cut diagonally into 3-inch lengths
- Several pinches of red-pepper flakes
- 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped (see Note, above)
- 3 Tbsp. chopped cilantro
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Slide everything onto a platter (use a bright blue one if you can) and serve immediately.
Simmering the tofu in salted water keeps it from falling apart when cooked; the cooking and salt also round out the flavor.