Using tofu to combine green rice to make a vegetarian dish packed with delicious curry flavors.
Tofu was discovered so long ago, no one is quite sure of the origins. It was developed in China, that much is agreed upon, somewhere in the neighborhood of a couple thousand years ago. One legend says that a prince made it while seeking immortality, or perhaps food for his ailing grandmother to eat easily. But then the royalty of China claimed a lot of credit that seems dubious.
Based on a couple things, etymology and linguistics suggest that it came from interaction with the Mongol tribes. In Chinese culture, animals were not considered a source of milk, and as a result there was no knowledge of cheese making. Tofu uses an extremely similar process, making curds, pressing them to dry somewhat and ending up with a solid result. Probably why it is called bean curd in the English language. It seems most likely these cheese production skills came from the Mongols who were very well versed in them.
The how and why of Tofu
To make Tofu, soybeans are pulverized with a little water into soy milk. A coagulant, traditionally calcium sulfate in China, is added which creates the curds. Excess moisture is pressed out as the tofu is shaped. Around 800CE tofu migrated, probably with the spread of Buddhism, to Japan and throughout Asia. In Japan they use nigari, a seawater derivative for their coagulant. Modern manufacturing also uses acid-based coagulants versus the traditional salt-based choices.
Tofu is one of the best protein sources for a vegan or vegetarian diet. When made with calcium sulfate it also contains measurable amounts of calcium accessible to our systems. That makes it one of the early health foods, and has been used as a meat substitute for millennia. Take that you impossible meat makers.
From Martha Stewart to Bobby Flay, green rice is a dish that passes through many schools of cooking. In the Latin world Arroz Verde appears in Mexican, Spanish, Peruvian…you get the idea, many many cultures. No surprise to anyone, that while the recipes carry some similar components, the end results vary immensely depending on the tastes of the region in which the recipe evolved.
We favor the versions that include browning the rice lightly before cooking. The next step in most all the recipes is to blend a bunch of green stuff together and finish cooking the rice with all that added in to the pot. Cilantro and parsley are in most versions, spinach is used to carry the color well without making the flavors too strong. Although some recipes will also jalapenos or other green peppers to spice it up. Ours will be a touch milder, and we like to make the flavors pop by adding a little mint to the mix.
Green Rice and Curried Tofu Recipe
- Green Rice
- 2 Cups Basmati rice
- 2 Tablespoons Extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 Medium Yellow onions
- Sea salt and pepper
- 10 Ounces Baby spinach leaves
- 1 Bunch Italian parsley
- 1 Bunch Cilantro
- 1 Bunch Mint
- 2 Cloves garlic
- ¼ Cup Mixed, toasted and salted nuts
- Curry Tofu
- 1 Lb. Firm tofu
- Black pepper
- Curry powder
- Sea salt
- Peel and dice the onions.
- Cut the tofu into one to two inch cubes
- Put 2 Tablespoons olive oil and the onions in the heavy skillet or pan over medium-high heat
- Add the rice, season with salt and pepper and stir to coat all with oil, drop heat to medium
- The onions will begin to sizzle, and the rice should be lightly browning
- Cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes, continue stirring from time to time.
- Add 3 cups water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat so it’s simmering
- Cover and cook for 15 minutes.
- Put the tofu in a medium saucepan over low heat
- Add ½ cup water, 2 teaspoons curry powder and a very generous pinch of salt
- Stir, cover and bring to a simmer. Simmer for about 10 minutes, shaking the pan from time to time.
- Rinse the spinach, if necessary, remove any stems and chop coarsely
- Rinse and pat dry the herbs, pluck 1 cup parsley leaves, ½ cup cilantro leaves, ½ cup mint leaves
- Peel the garlic cloves and cut in quarters
- Put half the spinach in a food processor or blender and process until the spinach is minced
- Add all of the herbs and the garlic clove, process or blend to mince
- Add the remaining spinach and process or blend to mince
- Check the tofu and taste a piece, if well-seasoned, remove from the heat.
- If it needs more curry or salt, add as needed, return to heat. Leave or add enough water to keep the tofu from sticking, cook for another 5 minutes
- After the rice has cooked for 15 minutes, stir in the spinach and herb blend
- Cover the rice and continue to cook over low heat for about 5 minutes
- Remove from the heat and let the rice sit, undisturbed for 5 minutes.
- Finely chop the nuts
- Fluff the rice with a fork, divide it rice among 4 plates
- Top with equal amounts of minced nuts, then tofu.
- Garnish each plate with an herb sprig, serve, and enjoy!