This dish is spectacular, as wasabi peas make a delicious breading for tofu. Surprisingly, they lose their bite when cooked but provide intriguing flavor and crunch in the slightly sweet, salty crust. Look for cans of the peas in the Asian food section of your supermarket or in the bulk bin of some large grocery stores. A few crushed peas get sprinkled on top of the finished dish for added crunch and a pop of pungency.
4 leeks, white and light green parts thinly sliced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
1 cup wasabi peas, divided
1 large egg, lightly beaten
How to Make It
Cut each tofu block crosswise into 4 slices. Arrange tofu in a single layer on several layers of paper towels. Cover tofu with additional paper towels; let stand 15 minutes.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add cabbage and leeks to pan; cook 8 minutes or until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Keep warm.
Place 3/4 cup peas in the bowl of a food processor; process until very finely ground and powdery. Place ground peas in a shallow dish. Place egg in another shallow dish. Sprinkle tofu with remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper, pressing gently to adhere.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add 2 tablespoons oil to pan; swirl to coat. Dredge 1 side of each tofu slice in ground peas; dip in egg. Dredge same side of tofu a second time in the ground peas. Arrange tofu slices, dredged side down, in pan; cook 5 minutes or until browned. Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil to pan; turn tofu slices over, and cook 2 minutes.
Place remaining 1/4 cup peas in a zip-top plastic bag; lightly crush with a rolling pin or a small heavy pan. Serve tofu with cabbage mixture; sprinkle with crushed peas.
I liked the cabbage more than the tofu, though the tofu was pretty good. I was disappointed in the wasabi coating, it didn't add much, if I made it again I would probably just use panko. I also added minced garlic and ginger to the cabbage - seemed like it would have been bland without something to punch it up. A dipping sauce would probably help.
I've been a CL subscriber since the '90s, and probably cook 30-40 recipes a year from the magazine. In nearly a quarter century of having cooked, cumulatively, several hundred CL recipes, this is honestly the worst I've ever had. I honestly can't recall the last time I took one bite of a dish, and then threw all of it in the trash. Even my GF, who is adamant about never wasting food, agreed and tossed her share as well. I would rather have had an unpleasant taste than the utter and absolute lack of any flavor. Really, even for a magazine that is known for its frequently bland recipes, this takes the metaphorically flavorless cake. To make matters worse, tofu was around $5 a package, and leeks $3.99 each. This horrifically bad meal cost, in total, over $25! Oh, and even though it's only eight ingredients, it takes a surprising amount of time and uses a surprising number of dishes, so not only is it a waste of money, it's a surprisingly large waste of time! It's been two hours since I tossed this abuse of food in the trash and I am still fuming over it.
One of our tofu favorites now. As feast for the eyes, as well as the palate. I usually add more wasabi peas to boost the flavor punch. The accompanying red cabbage and leeks is delicious! I usually make only 1/2 recipe for the 2 of us.
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