Serious Eats: Recipes

Eat for Eight Bucks: Tofu with Tomatoes and Cilantro

[Photograph: Robin Bellinger]

Shopping List

1 pound tofu: $1.29
2 scallions (pro-rated): $0.25
Ginger: $0.50
6 button mushrooms: $1.48
Cilantro: $1.00
4 plum tomatoes: $1.81
1 cup frozen peas (pro-rated): $1.00
1 cup raw white rice: $1.00

Pantry items: Peanut or canola oil, garlic, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil.

Total cost (for 4 portions): $8.33

I would tell you that Madhur Jafrey's tofu with tomatoes and cilantro is the most warmly received bean curd dish I've ever prepared, but the truth is that that wouldn't be saying much. My husband's enthusiasm for tofu is nonexistent, and I like the soft white bricks more for their price and long-keeping qualities than their taste.

Nevertheless, in this preparation I've finally (finally!) found a tofu dinner that genuinely pleases all of us--mama, papa, and baby, too. The secret to coaxing a crisp golden exterior out of bean curd eludes me still, but nobody notices when the bowl holds so many other flavors and textures and colors--bright tomatoes, sweet peas, earthy mushrooms, fragrant ginger, green cilantro. We were all eager for seconds and glad to have a little left over.

If you can't bear to use this much oil, you can cut it in half and use a nonstick skillet (or resign yourself to scrubbing out the pan). The scallions are nice, but a couple of tablespoons of minced onion will do in a pinch. The rice vinegar can be omitted or replaced with white wine vinegar. You might even omit the ginger if necessary, but don't skip the cilantro. It's worth buying a bunch.

Tofu with Tomatoes and Cilantro

About the author: Robin Bellinger is a freelance editor and shameless cookie addict. She lives in San Francisco and blogs about what she feeds her husband and her daughter at home*economics.

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