When I first thought about starting a vegan-centric blog, I was going to focus on veganizing Filipino dishes. Filipino food isn’t necessarily heavy on meat: my mom can give you a lecture on how she rarely ate meat as a girl growing up in the Philippines. I should ask her to write it down and post it here. Oh, I digress. One of the Filipino dishes that I knew I would really miss is bistek or beef steak. It’s basically meat and onions so how can you possibly veganize it and make it similar to the real thing?
Duh. Tofu is the solution to my bistek problem. However, I still have issues with tofu texture and taste. There is just no getting away from that tofu taste. Anyway, I had leftover tofu in the fridge and decided to try making it into Tofustek! (exclamation point is required). I am 99% happy with the result. It still needs something, but here is the basic recipe with which we can tinker.
1 block extra firm tofu
1/4 c soy sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice or calamansi juice if you’ve got it
1 medium onion, sweet vidalia recommended but any onion will do
ground black pepper
olive oil or safflower oil (my new favorite cooking oil, will post about it soon!)
Double up on the soy sauce and lemon juice if you like your dishes to be more soupy, and use more or less onion if you wish.
1. Slice the tofu into mini-steaks or into chunks — whatever you like! Put the tofu in a shallow bowl or dish so that you only have one layer of it, if possible.
2. In a bowl, mix together the soy sauce and lemon. Taste a drop of it to make sure it’s a flavor you like. If it’s too sour, add a bit more soy sauce. If you can’t taste the lemon or calamansi, add a bit more. Once it’s mixed, sprinkle in some black pepper.
3. Pour the sauce over the tofu, taking care to coat each piece. Let it sit for awhile to marinade. Five minutes or so should be plenty of time.
4. While the tofu is marinading, slice your onion into rings and set aside.
5. Heat up your pan and add oil. Brown the tofu. IMPORTANT: Do NOT add any of the sauce! Some will obviously find its way into the pan, but try to make it as dry as possible.
6. After the tofu is browned, remove it from the pan and place it in a bowl or container, preferably the container in which you plan to serve or store the dish.
7. Add a bit more oil to the pan and then throw in your onions. Brown until they are wilted, or earlier if you like your onions a bit more crisp. Then, add the sauce and remove from heat. Careful: it’s gonna sizzle.
9. Top the tofu with the onions and sauce.
Serve Tofustek! with white rice or your favorite grain. Goes well with steamed or broiled Chinese eggplant, or with salted fresh tomatoes. Tofustek! is not quite as delicious as bistek, but it’s a great vegan alternative and super easy to make.
Enjoy! And may you have a Happy New Year! – Melissa