think outside the bottle: beer and prune juice brined tofu

by Chen

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It was an experiment.

Beer is not an unusual ingredient in braised dishes that include meat or poultry due to its rich flavor. But why prune juice? Leftovers! Instead of adding sugar, I used prune juice, which was not only sweet but fruity.

Further, the technique was more on the Chinese side: cook-and-brine not brine-and-cook. It required cooking in the fully seasoned liquid then resting the whole thing for at least 30 minutes to overnight to allow the flavors to marry each other, and the dished being prepared in this way could be served without reheated. What a brilliant idea for make-ahead meals!

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beer and prune juice brined tofu

1 block extra firm tofu
1 can (12oz) beer
1 cup prune juice
1/4 cup dark soy sauce

Wrap the tofu in several layers of kitchen towels and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to cook, slice the tofu into 1/2-inch thick pieces. Coat a large nonstick pan with cooking spray and heat over medium-low heat. Carefully add the tofu to the pan, cut side down. Sear both sides until golden brown, about 3 minutes per side.

Combine the beer, prune juice, and soy sauce in a soup pot and add the seared tofu. Bring the mixture to a boil then let it simmer on low for 15 minutes without covering the pot. Remove from the heat and cover the pot. Let it sit for at least 30 minutes to overnight. Discard the cooking liquid and serve.

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