Recipe: Braised Tofu?

I found it difficult to name this dish because I don't know what the actual translation would be of the Korean word. For all your speakers out there this is my version of 두부 조림.

I took a sort of Japanese take on one of my favorite Korean side dishes. The process takes a while but it's not difficult at all. If you've never been a big fan of tofu then this is definitely the way to try it.

Prep Time: 40 minutes
Rest Time: 6 hours
Cook Time: 10 minutes

1 pack firm tofu
3 tbsp canola oil
2 tbsp high quality soy sauce
2 cloves of garlic
1 green onion some reserved for garnish
a dash of toasted sesame oil
red pepper flakes or sriracha to taste

The reason this dish takes as long as it does is that you have to remove as much water from the tofu as possible. I do this by taking the whole block of tofu with paper towels on both sides and putting it between two cutting boards with a can of tomatoes on top for at least 30 minutes to an hour.

That's it for now, just let it rest and you can get the rest of the ingredients ready. Coursely chop up the garlic and makes little rounds with the green onion. Put the soy sauce, sesame oil, garlic and green onion along with 1 tablespoon of water into a small bowl and set it aside, you'll be using this later.

Remove the tofu and cut it in half making two blocks of tofu the same size as the original piece just half as thin. Now cut those in half width wise and making 4 smaller rectangles. Now cut those four pieces in half again making 8 pieces. Now cut along a diagonal making 16 triangles. Shoot me a message if that doesn't make sense. Pretty much just try to make the shape I have in the picture.

Now put the canola oil in a nice non stick pan or well seasoned cast iron and bring it up to heat on medium heat and drop in the tofu all on the same side. You may have to work in batches. Evenly brown all 5 sides of your triangles and remove the tofu onto a plate and let them cool to room temperature.

The last and final step is the part that I guess is like a quick braise. I know that's kind of an oxymoron but I just don't know what I'd call it. In a medium sauce pan make a layer of tofu with your fried tofu and spoon over your soy mixture from before. Now put another layer of fried tofu on top of that and spoon over some more of your soy mixture. Repeat this process until you've put all your tofu in the sauce pan and you have used up all your soy mixture. Now put the pan on the stove on medium heat and heat the tofu through spooning the mixture over top of the tofu from the bottom of the pan. 10 minutes later you'll have a nice salty/spicy tofu dish that'll be great with a side of rice and kimchee!

Hope you like the dish. It's a bit much for some tofu but I find pleasure in the dishes that take me a long time to make.
--Joe Kwon

Local Eats: Sunny Point Cafe - Asheville, NC

Huevos Fucheros
It's so easy to talk about a restaurant like Sunny Point. It's all around friendly and inviting feel makes it a pleasure, even if you have to wait 45 minutes for a table.

The above dish is their Huevos Fucheros, a vegetarian version of their huevos rancheros (seen below), which was a finalist in Good Morning America's, "Best Breakfast" competition, and rightfully so. It's to die for, although if I were hard pressed to choose between this one and Over Easy's huevos rancheros, I'd have to give it to Over Easy by a hair.

Huevos Rancheros
It's really terrible to do these write-ups while I'm craving the dishes I must say. I just look at those perfectly cooked black bean cakes, the slightly sour and spicy salsa verde, the crumbly chorizo, and my mouth immediately starts to water.

I was just thinking and I realized that huevos rancheros has a really close place in my heart in terms of food memory. I can remember who I was with and where I was the first time I had my eyes opened to it's glory. The year was 1997 and I was attending Idyllwild Arts Academy and one of the teachers (Michael) at the school took me out to breakfast before a climbing trip. It's so vivid in my memory and it makes me remember why food can be so beautiful.

MGB - A Mighty Good Breakfast
The MGB is a great standby if you are hungry and want that traditional breakfast. It'll fill you up fast and keep you running on high the whole morning. As the name implies it's "Mighty Good." Just look at those perfectly crisp edges on the side of those sunny side up eggs. That right there is an art!

Omelette - w/ fresh garden salad
And for those of you who are health conscious the sides choices also include an incredibly fresh side salad. Omelette's may not be Sunny Point Cafe's strongest point. That being said, I should note I'm not a huge fan of omelettes to begin with.

If you're passing through beautiful Asheville, NC and you want to get away from the downtown area for some brekky, this may be the perfect spot for you. Just be warned...come early and expect to wait. It always seems to be busy.

--Joe Kwon