Dec 15, 2011

tofu escabeche over escarole

How many times have we heard of some Top Chef or Iron Chef describe his dish as an Escabeche? Doesn't it sound exotic and unattainable for us on the side-lines of the kitchen? As with most culinary terms, this too is deceptive in its simplicity. It is a fried or cooked meat or vegetable that is then marinated in a liquid containing such acids as citrus juice or vinegar. It is typically served cold, right from the marinade.

I used tofu in this dish, but seitan, eggplant or zucchini would be ideal choices as well. Although marinating helps tofu (and please correct me if I am wrong), I have never found it to be like the proverbial sponge. I have used the Tofu Express on a slab, cut it into cutlets and marinated it for days, and still the inside turned out just as white as the day it was first pressed. That isn't to say that it is all for naught, but I have personally given up on infusing the tofu completely. The tofu picks up enough of the soaking liquid to add the flavor dimension you are trying for, but for me at least, a day of marinating is all the time I am willing to devote to food down-time. Serve the darned thing already!

I did wind up reheating my Tofu Escabeche, mainly because David would have most likely asked me to, but this is totally optional. I served it over brown rice tossed with sauteed escarole and garlic. The escarole was nicely bitter, the brown rice delightfully sweet and the escabeche wonderfully acidic. 
It was decidedly a grown-up meal.    

Cost Breakdown
tofu: $4
escarole: $3
brown rice: $1
garlic, vinegar, wine, flour, olive oil: $2
garlic, herbs, stock: $2
Total to make 6 servings:


  1. I suspect that pressed tofu doesn't pick up flavor the way it would if not pressed. When you post the recipe, I'll run a test, l/2 pressed and l/2 not, using a firm, not super or extra firm tofu and see what happens. In my experience escabeche is made from raw, not cooked fish, if one eats fish. The marinade "cooks" the fish.

  2. Nonna, I'd love to hear how your test goes! I've done it both ways with about the same results, but it is always good to have more data!

    Escabeche is indeed first cooked (poached or fried) and then marinated. Perhaps you are referring to ceviche, which is "cooking" the raw food (seafood typically) using an acid. I have a recipe for that under the tag Herbivore.

    Thanks for visiting and I look forward to your tofu test!

  3. I have found that by first freezing the tofu and then defrosting and later putting it in the Xpress, it gets a lot more "spongy" and the marinate gets deeper into the tofu. I should mention that before the tofu gets into the marinate bath it is sliced as per the recipe, or cubed if that is what called for.

  4. I love that there are special names for such easy ideas that make things sound so much harder than it is. I hate when people use them to others who don't cook much though as they come across sounding snobbish. The tofu looks great.

  5. in2insight, I keep forgetting about the frozen tofu in my freezer, lol! Thanks for the reminder. You are so right, that would certainly absorb like a sponge. The texture is what concerns me... it really does become a sponge. Do you find it off-putting or not after cooking? Whenever I make something that only calls for half a pound of tofu or so, the rest gets tossed into the freezer. Unfortunately that is where is stays until the freezer gets cleaned out. Must...remember...

    Here, here, regarding pretentiousness, tender b!! Say what you mean and mean what you say!!

  6. Re: Spongy Tofu. I find that in larger pieces this indeed can be a bit off-putting. In bite size, nicely marinated and stir-fried or backed, not so much.


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