Monday, November 5, 2007


Whipping up a marinade, or a dressing is something we do all the time. You make a quick salad, a stir-fry, some tofu, roasted sweet potatoes, all of these taste better with a little something on top. The usual option for a salad dressing is to throw together lemon juice, olive oil and maybe a little salt. Couldn't be simpler. But sometimes it's fun to look into the fridge and try something you haven't done before.

Take Coleslaw. Coleslaw is usually dressed in a heavy, mayonnaise-based dressing. While this can be lovely, sometimes it's nice to make something a bit lighter. The standard in our house is a basic citrus/oil combination a bit of cumin for flavour. Amounts depend on how much coleslaw you have.

Cumin Coleslaw Dresssing
Equal parts olive oil and lime juice, depends if you want it more oily or more citrusy. Lemon juice also works, but limes have a stronger flavour that works well with the cumin.

Salt and pepper to taste

A dash of vinegar, probably rice wine vinegar

Some sweetener, we like apple juice or maple syrup. The sweet shouldn't overpower the sour, just provide a slight balance.

A touch of cumin
Tofu is tough one. If you don't have the time or the energy to let the tofu sit in a marinade overnight, and we rarely have either, it's very hard to make something powerful enough to actually imbibe the tofu with flavour. One method is to just make a marinade with a very dominant flavour, such as rosemary or cayenne pepper, throw the marinade on the tofu and let it cook for ages, covered and un-covered. Another method is to pan-fry the tofu in a bit of oil and then throw on the marinade when the pan is very hot and cover it immediately. We always made tofu on the stove, but you can make it in the oven too. In any case, here are some tried and true marinades that should hopefully give you a tofu that doesn't just taste like mushed up soybeans. Recipe amounts should depend on how much tofu you're making; when the marinade is poured in the pan, it should just cover the tofu.

Sweet and Sour Tofu
A good amount of tamarind paste. Tamarind is very sour and is a key ingredient in Worcestershire sauce. Use it in moderation, but it is the "sour" in the "sweet and sour".

Apple juice concentrate. Another sweetener can be substituted and it doesn't necessarily have to be a concentrate. I find apple juice's flavour goes well with the tamarind. The tamarind paste to apple juice concentrate ratio should be about 2:1.

Lemon juice, I find a splash of lemon juice brings out the flavour in almost anything.

A bit of olive oil
Other condiments can be added as necessary. Experiment with amounts, I like this very strong.

Curry Mustard Tofu
Equal parts mustard and red curry paste. I usually use a lot of these ingredients as they are the key parts to the marinade. Mix them up together beforehand, it's harder to add them in when the mixture is thin. Yellow curry paste can also be used, but it tastes different than the red variety.

A good amount of orange juice. The orange juice is the base of the marinade, so there should be roughly two times orange juice to the amount of the mustard/curry paste mixture.

Pepper to taste

A splash of apple cider vinegar and/or lemon juice. This is a matter of taste, I find that the vinegar and lemon juice always bring out the flavour of everything else.
Lemon Rosemary Tofu
Equal parts lemon juice and olive oil. We always cut the olive oil a bit, but that's personal choice. Lime juice may also be used.

Soy sauce/tamari to taste

A very healthy portion of chopped fresh rosemary. Dried rosemary could be used, but I doubt it would pack the same intense punch as the fresh.

Salt and pepper to taste
Any of these recipes can be adapted to fit your own tastes or put on something else. I'm a vegetarian, but I'm sure the carnivores out there could adapt one of these recipes for some meat dish. Experiment. Another tasty marinade or dressing is mustard, orange juice and a prepared sweet and spicy chili sauce - usually you can buy that in a supermarket. We like the Healthy Boy Brand Chili Sauce, it has the consistency of duck sauce but has better ingredients and is less sweet. You could also try olive oil, thyme and zahtar.

Happy cooking.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I just forayed back into bread baking after a long hiatus. I got a dinner invitation from people I don't know and decided that I wanted to show up with something really classy and homemade bread would be it. Two recipes on Sunday--a cracked wheat bread from Secrets of Jesuit Breadmaking which was "okay not great" and an olive rosemary from Cook's Illustrated which tasted pretty good but not good enough to redeem it's appearance. So I was quite pleased to see the bread pudding recipes on the blog! I couldn't let go of the idea that I need to bake bread for this dinner on Wed. Beth--I ended up finding something in Beard on Bread which I'd done before and was PARVE. Thanks for the bread recipe ideas, Beth. I really did appreciate them, even if I didn't use them (this go round). I'm still a little nervous about the loaves that just came out because my oven temp has gone wacky. But I'll let you know how it works out!