Thursday, December 4, 2008

Weeks 19 and 20 Bean Challenge: 1 dinner a week

It's a "bean challenge" digest this week - consolidating 2 bean challenge updates in one post. I'll bet you never thought you would be so lucky to happen upon this! Week 19 was home-made refried beans and today (Week 20) was tofu with fermented black beans. What's that you say? You've never cooked with fermented black beans? Well, neither had I!

Week 20: Black Bean Tofu

I had to prep for this recipe by shopping at an Asian grocery store. My brain almost melted when I stepped in the door. Fantastic! It's a HUGE Asian grocery store with amazing variety. I couldn't understand many of the labels, but no matter.

I was looking for "fermented" black beans, and didn't want to substitute black bean sauce. You could substitute, but I wanted to give the real deal a try. You can only get fermented black beans at an Asian grocery story.

Here's an 8 oz. bag of fermented black beans. There is no way our family can get through this, so the first 3 co-workers that email me tomorrow, requesting a sample, will get one. I've got it all packed up in a wax paper bag for you!

I also bought a bag of "Savory Baked Tofu" from the tofu section. Yes - they have an entire tofu section.

A little too savory for my taste. This baked tofu looks like hamburger buns.

Brown basmati rice in the vegetable steamer.

My new toy: Bamboo tongs from Pampered Chef. I love these. So much better than my old plastic tongs that broke about 3 months ago. I've been tongless since then.

It's a busy night when I don't change out of my work clothes and start cooking as soon as I walk in the door...

Here's the kid's version (raw carrots vs. cooked and tofu and rice on the side). And I made some homemade kids' chopsticks. Our 5-year-old was totally into it and kept asking me questions about kids in Japan and China. I wish I new more about Asian culture to keep up with her relentless questioning!

And the real deal! Our son hated it, our daughter thought it was OK. I liked it and would make it again, without the savory baked variety of tofu.

So if you have some suggestions for baked tofu, I'm all ears. I've got 2 blocks left.

Week 19 was homemade vegetarian refried beans. They tasted terrible! Taco Bell beans taste better than this. I'm afraid the secret to really good home made refried beans is lard and chorizo. I'm not going there.

Does anybody have a recipe for excellent vegetarian refried beans? And how do you keep them from looking gray instead of brown?


Annie Jones said...

What kind of beans did you use for your refries? I use pinto, anazasi or adzuki, and they don't look gray when their cooked. The adzuki are a little strong in flavor, though.

Mine aren't intentionally vegetarian, but most of the time I don't add any meat or meat fat. I use a little garlic and lots of salt while they are cooking, and at the end of cooking, I add just a pinch or so of an herb called epizote. It's supposed to cut down on gas, and it adds just a bit of a tart flavor.

Epizote has an odd aroma in bulk though; it smells kind of like car wax IMO. LOL! So be prepared for that if you buy any.

Sarah said...

Peter has a cousin who is living in Japan. She sent the kids a book about Boys' Day and Girls' Day in Japan. I'll have to lend it to you, or show it to you when I see you next!