“How do you cook your tofu?” my youngest brother asks as he pulls a container of it from his fridge. Last time I was “home” in NYC was about 8 months ago. Immediately after I arrived at JFK airport, we drove to his house and I ended up in his kitchen helping to prepare lunch for his wife and two young sons.
The evening prior to my departure, I was in my kitchen, prepping ingredients for a much requested “Taco Night,” with our other brother who happens to also live in Prague. When we had spoken earlier in the week about having dinner before I left he asked “Can we have tacos?”
I quickly agreed and coincidentally had some cilantro and two ripe avocados ready to be converted into a bowl of guacamole in my red kitchen. I told him that he would have to help and be my sous chef, which he always willingly agrees to. On the eve of my departure, we took a trip to the local Tesco supermarket and shopped for the missing ingredients to complete our taco night. Earlier that afternoon, I told a friend that I would be making tacos for dinner. Knowing that I am not a big meat-eater, she asked if I would be making fish tacos and what exactly did I put in my tacos. I paused for a second then said “Actually, this would be the first time I have ever made them. I enjoyed them in Mexico, but I usually just make quesadillas.” As it turns out, “Taco Night” in Prague can be quite an expensive dinner at home. The meat is the cheapest thing on the menu, but the taco shells are a luxury item. We are talking about 5 US dollars here for a box of 6 shells. Insane! What one does for the love of family.
As soon as we returned to my flat, my brother quickly got into sous chef mode. His job this evening was to prep the ingredients for the guacamole. He grabbed a chopping board, selected a knife and began taking care of the vegetables. As he was busily engaged in his task, I started working on seasoning the meat. However, I kept being interrupted with a slew of questions, as he repeatedly kept asking how exactly did I make the guacamole. He wanted to remember how to do it on his own. How sweet!
It was strangely interesting to find myself immediately the next day, going over recipes in N.Y. in my “baby” brother’s kitchen. Although I am the eldest, I am the only girl between us three and we happen to be very close in age. As children, my brothers got the majority vote and I usually ended up having to go along with their play. I can remember days of shutting down the lights at home and shooting our laser tag guns at one another, having to go along with their G.I. Joe adventures and accepting that there would be no doll playing but night-time ninja action. Occasionally, I would assert my big sister position and I would get a chance to dress them up as girls and put ribbons in their hair (something they probably wish I wasn’t writing about), but these were rare moments and probably done with a bribe of some sort.
Years later, here we were as adults and they were both playing my favorite game: cooking. Both brothers completely volunteering to be participants and curiously wanting to know how to entice others through food. Still somewhat jet lagged, yet excited by my brother asking how I cook tofu, I went through a quick demonstration of the way I cook it, which is slightly different from our mother’s style. Funnily enough, my batch didn’t come out as well as it normally does when I cook it at “home.” Maybe it was jet lag?
A different kitchen? Who knows? The best part of this sibling moment was watching my youngest brother, take out another block of tofu and cook up a new batch. I must have taught him well as his attempt turned out to be much more appealing and tastier than mine.
2 ripe avocados
1 bunch of cilantro chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1 shalot or ½ small red onion chopped
1 garlic clove, minced
Jalapeno pepper, minced quantity depends on your liking
1 small tomato chopped
Scoop out the avocado (save the seed if you aren’t planning to immediately serve the guacamole, it helps maintain the vibrant green color) and mash it till it gets very soft.
Add the other ingredients and mix well.
Pan Fried Tofu
1 block of tofu (be sure to press out some of the excess water)
4 tablespoons corn starch or flour
1 plastic bag
1 teaspoon salt
Chop tofu into small squares.
Place cornstarch and salt and tofu pieces in the bag.
Then give it a good shake and be sure to coat the tofu well with the cornstarch.
Fry the pieces in 1-2 tablespoons of oil. Make sure the heat is high, once it is sizzling bring the heat down.
Fry until golden on all sides and serve immediately.
We enjoy eating this with a side of warm jasmine rice, steamed green vegetables and dipping the tofu into a mix of soy and vinegar.
Tofu Dipping Sauce:
4 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons White Vinegar
2 crushed cloves of garlic
1 teaspoon Sesame Oil
Mix all together in a small bowl.