Could it be…. Seitan? (Ross Cooks: Tofu and Vegetable Curry)

I seem to have gotten an inordinate number of spam comments this week schilling for the Zune. Wasn’t the Zune discontinued?
(I also got one non-spam comment. Thanks!)
This was a big hit with my wife, and I’ll likely make it again. The prep work was a bit labor intensive. Since I’d had a slightly carb-heavy lunch, instead of rice, I served this over a cutlet (Is that even the right word?) of seitan. This was my first time making seitan (or eating it for that matter), and I think my technique needs some work. I probably should have introduced it to the curry while the curry was still cooking to let it pick up some flavor. Of course, seitan is off the menu for the gluten-intolerant, in which case, just go for rice, or even something like cauliflower.
(You can look up how to make seitan at home for tips and tricks, but the general gist is to mix about 4 parts Vital Wheat Gluten with about 3 parts water, erring on the side of less water, and a bit of soy sauce. Knead until it tuns into a sort of rubbery ball, then roll it out into several thin flat shapes, and simmer it in a liquid that tastes like what you want the seitan to taste like until it plumps up and becomes firm)
The time-consuming step of this dish is pressing the water out of the tofu. I think it was worth it for the texture you end up with (and for your tofu not dissolving into mush), but people with more experience than me at tofu might have better suggestions for how to get that texture. Heck, for all I know, you can buy your tofu pre-pressed at fine upscale tofuscarias.
I tried two methods to press the tofu. First, I laid them out on a cookie sheet, then placed a second cookie sheet on top, and weighed the top sheet down with a water-filled casserole dish. This spent an hour in the oven at 250°F. That got a lot of the water out, but the tofu still felt like it wouldn’t survive cooking, so it went into the skillet with a large plate on top, weighted down with a jumbo-size jar of peanut butter. That spent another 20 minutes on the range at low heat. During both steps, I drained the pan occasionally to get rid of the water that pressed out of the tofu. The result had a firm, meaty texture that wasn’t entirely unlike grilled paneer cheese.

  • 1 lb firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch thick 1 inch squares and pressed
  • 2 cups of your favorite tomato-based spaghetti sauce (If your favorite is especially sweet, use someone else’s favorite.)
  • 3 tbsp Vegetable Curry Spices (I used 2 tbsp of Shan Vegetable Curry Mix and 1 of Mohini Indian Fusion Vegetable Blend
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables
  • 1/2 cup almonds (optional)
  • 1 tbsp heavy cream
  • 2 tbsp Greek yogurt
  • Vegetable oil

Fill a skillet with enough oil cover the bottom of the pan thoroughly and bring it up to a high temperature. Fry the onions for a few minutes, but not all the way to translucency. Add the tofu. Now, I had a hard time getting the tofu to fry without breaking up without keeping the pan so hot that the tofu instantly burns to the bottom. Anyone who has experience pan-frying tofu, pointers are welcome.
The tofu won’t need more than a light sizzle before you reduce the heat to medium and add the spaghetti sauce and vegetables. Stir in the curry spices, being careful not to break up the tofu too badly. If you’ve got the tofu pressed really well, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but I made the mistake of trying a similar recipe with unpressed tofu, and it basically dissolved into a mashed potato consistency.
Sprinkle the almonds into the mix. You could try cashews instead, but I wouldn’t use salted nuts, as it’ll make the curry too salty. Stir in the cream.
As it happened, I had a pack of breaded spinach fritter appetizers in the fridge, and I put a few on top while the pan simmered for about 20 minutes. They mixed well and added a lot to the eating experience.
Right at the end, stir in the yogurt. You can adjust the amount of yogurt up or down based on the final level of spiciness you want. Leah sometimes uses sour cream to the same end when I make dishes like this, but for this one I think the you don’t want to add any additional sourness over the acidity of the tomato sauce.
As I said above, I served this over a seitan fillet, but next time, I think I’d prefer to cut up the seitan and cook it in the curry. It should work over rice or maybe over naan bread. With all the vegetables and onions, and depending on the consistency of your spaghetti sauce, you might be happy to just eat this like a stew, without any kind of substrate.

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