The Washington Post
Excerpts of an online chat between readers and the food writers and experts of The Washington Post.
Q. I bought a package of firm tofu, and now I need to know exactly what to do with it. My husband enjoys it fried at Thai restaurants, but can it be made in a pan, rather than deep-frying? Also, how do you press out the liquid and for how long?
A: There are lots of ways to cook tofu. One of my favorites is to marinate it in sesame oil, garlic, ginger, soy sauce and rice vinegar overnight and then to toss in cornstarch and bake it. Dries it out and gets it a little crunchy on the outside, and makes it great for tossing in stir-fries, salads, etc.
But first, yes, I press the water out of it. My preferred method is to wrap it in paper towels, set it on a plate, set another plate on top, put a can or other weight on top and let it press for a half hour or so, then take off the paper towels and pat it dry.
Q: I enjoy making (and eating) healthful meals; however, I frequently don't feel like cooking after work. During the cooler months, I can make soups and stews, spaghetti sauce and casseroles on the weekend and freeze them. But in warmer months, I prefer to eat lots of fresh vegetables and lighter food.
Do you have any suggestions for good make-ahead meals for the spring and summer?
A: I confess that cooking for myself is recreation after a long day of cooking for others. Nevertheless, I have this shortcut: Blanch appropriate seasonal vegatables, such as green beans, and ice them. Keep them in the refrigerator for quick additions to dishes. One large loaf of bread, well made, lasts five days. Rice and other grains can be cooked and then reheated.
I have varieties of partially cooked ingredients in my refrigerator, and I change the combinations. Then, at the end, there is always a nice seasonal vegetable soup.