I spent the day on a 75-year-old wooden sailboat owned by dear friends that’s docked in Oyster Bay. My sister Eliana, who’s staying with me for a couple of weeks, is vegan, so I got up early to pull together a protein-packed salad that doesn’t require refrigeration.
A couple of months ago I stumbled across a new technique for preparing tofu. When you freeze tofu, it takes on a radically different texture. Ideally, you would press it to release as much liquid as possible and then wrap it in cheesecloth before freezing it, but I’ve gotten decent results by just tossing a drained block into the freezer in a plastic container. When you take it out, the tofu will have yellowed and developed air pockets where the water has been sucked out. If you then simmer it in liquid, the tofu holds together much better and also takes on the flavor of the liquid.
Kale and Quinoa Salad with Candied Five-Spice Tofu
- 1/2 container firm tofu – frozen, defrosted and cubed
- 1 red onion
- 1 kohlrabi bulb, peeled and cubed
- 1/4 cup soy sauce
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tbsp fish sauce (can be omitted for vegans)
- 1/2 tbsp Chinese five-spice powder (or some combination of cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger, cloves and/or fennel)
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
- 2 tbsp Mirin
- 1 tbsp sugar (honey or agave would work here too, though honey’s not technically vegan)
- black pepper
Bring above ingredients minus the kohlrabi to a boil, lower heat and let simmer for 20 minutes or so, stirring occasionally. Add the kohlrabi about halfway through. If you need more liquid, add some water. When onions have wilted and tofu is a nice brown color, remove the solids and boil the liquid until it takes on a syrupy consistency.
- 1/2 cup quinoa, prepared according to package
- 1 head kale, thinly sliced
- 2 apples, cubed
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced (white and light green portions only)
- 2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds
- 1/4 cup shelled sunflower seeds
Combine above ingredients with all of your cooked items, stirring gently to combine. Give it a taste and adjust the seasoning with soy sauce, black pepper, sesame oil and/or rice wine vinegar.
It was a glorious day on Oyster Bay–sunny and 85 degrees. Some ospreys had had their way with the boat, so we started our voyage by scrubbing fish guts and other icky stuff stuff off of the deck. Somehow, this did not diminish our appetites. We ate lunch on the mooring.
The wind picked up in the afternoon and we spent a few glorious hours touring Oyster Bay, catching up on our lives and reminiscing about the books we read in high school. (Eliana’s summer reading is The Great Gatsby, which just happens to be set near where we were sailing.) Shooting the breeze, indeed.