Category Archives: tofu dishes

Recipe: Baked Tofu Egg Rolls

Did you know it’s currently National Vegetarian Week? If ya didn’t, now ya do, so go out there and eat a carrot or ten!

I do love myself a beautiful piece of rare meat now and again, but I find that I cook vegetarian more often than not even though I’m not consciously planning it. I guess it may have to do with the fact that I don’t really know what I’ll be cooking on any given week and therefore rarely buy meat or fish on my weekend shopping trips and prefer to buy it the day of when I figure out what’s for dinner. Add that to the fact that I’m usually running behind, and it leads to me making our meals out of whatever we have on hand, which is always vegetables and some sort of protein that keeps well for longer periods than fresh meat, like tofu, cheese or beans. Continue reading

Japanese Dinner + The Blowtorch!

About two years ago, J bought me a blowtorch for my birthday.  No, I’m not going all Flashdance on you with dreams of becoming a food-blogging welder- he figured I’d need it in case I ever wanted to brulée something.  I think the main motivation for him to buy me the torch was because he wanted me aburi something.  Aburi means “flamed” in Japanese, and if you go out to sushi often you’ve probably seen the chef whip out his blowtorch and lightly sear the top of a piece of salmon, toro or mackerel.  The heat of the flame melts the fat in the fish and creates a beautiful, soft, fatty flavor and texture.  If you haven’t had the chance to try any aburi sashimi or sushi, make sure to request it next time because it is, in a word, heavenly.  

Luckily my mom sent us home with some of her world-famous shime saba on New Year’s Day, so I only had to take it out of the freezer, let it thaw, then go all Jennifer Beals on it (ok, I’ll stop with the Flashdance references now!).  To be honest, the reason why I’d never used the blowtorch before was because I was scared.  Visions of a propane explosion in my kitchen (and in my FACE!) kept me from ever even taking it out of the box, but after receiving assurances on it’s safety from my dad and my chef friend, I finally decided to use it.  The verdict?  Let’s put it this way: Once you torch something, you’re hooked.  At least I am.  Now I always look for things to brulée!

So here it is- my first foray into the world of blowtorching food:

Pretty cool, right?  Anyway, here’s the rest of the meal:

I had some beautiful King Trumpet mushrooms which I sliced, brushed with a garlic/soy/agave/sake mixture and grilled in a pan:

I did the same for some yams I had laying around:

Cold, silken tofu topped with ginger and soy sauce:

Japanese cucumber, sugar snap pea and onion salad with sesame dressing:

A couple of Japanese condiments: on the left, taberu rayu, which is the hottest condiment in Japan right now.  Not “hot” as in Scoville scale, but as in it’s super popular.  Rayu is chili/sesame oil and has been around for ages; taberu means “to eat” in Japanese, and taberu rayu is the chili/sesame oil we all know and love combined with toasted garlic, sesame seeds, dried shrimp and other goodies to make to chunky, so you can actually eat it.  My best friend Mika gave it to us, and ohmahgawd it is downright addictive.  As if there aren’t already enough Japanese condiments that make you want to eat buckets of rice!  I could probably eat five pounds of rice with spoonfuls of taberu rayu mixed in.  Seriously good stuff.  The one of the right is shichimi tōgarashi, or seven flavor chili pepper, which is great on yakitori or grilled vegetables.  

The star of the show, aburi saba:

The table:

If you have any great recipes involving the use of a blowtorch, let me know!  I’m totally hooked.

BLD Restaurant’s Tweet-A-Dish

I was going to call this post, “The One With The Terrible Photos” but I didn’t want to turn you away before you could get an idea of how wonderful the food at BLD Restaurant is.  So, I changed it to what you see above, and you’ll simply have to close your eyes and imagine the lovely plates of food I’m going to tell you about, because clearly these photos do them no justice whatsoever.  Trust me.

Do you tweet?  I have to admit, I’m slightly addicted to the social networking site, Twitter.  It’s a great way to converse (albeit in 140 characters or less!) with fellow food bloggers, chefs, hospitality publicists and other people who share my love of food and dining in our great city.  Many restaurants have started to use Twitter to promote special happy hours or menu items, and BLD Restaurant took it one step further and created a weekly Twitter contest called Tweet-A-Dish.  All you have to do is think of what you’d like to eat for dinner and tweet it at @BLDchefD.  If Chef Diana Stavaridish chooses your idea, she’ll put it on the menu that Thursday night and you + 1 guest eat for free.  Pretty cool, right?  It’s like owning your own restaurant and having an item placed on the menu especially for you.  What do Kobe Bryant and you have in common?  You get a customized dish at a cool, Los Angeles restaurant on the menu.  Ok, I think you get the idea.

Last week, I was waiting in the car while J mailed out a package from the UPS store, and I saw Chef Diana’s tweet to send in ideas for this week’s Tweet-A-Dish.  I didn’t even take a second to think before tweeting, “A really good ahi burger…fine dice, rare w Asian seasoning and a tangy Asian slaw on a whole grain bun.  Sweet potato fries.”  I’m not sure what came over me, but I guess that’s what my stomach was craving, so I hoped for the best and went on with my business for the day.

The next day, I got the tweet from Chef Diana saying I’d won this week’s Tweet-A-Dish, and that she would be making a take on my idea and to please call the restaurant to book my reservation.  Yay!  I wasted no time in making the call, and before we knew it we were on our way to BLD for the much-anticipated tuna burger.

The waiter handed us a menu, and I saw that my item was the Plat du Jour-  Albacore Tuna Burger with Asian Cabbage Slaw, Chili Aioli, Sunchoke Chips.  I’ll totally geek out and say I was thrilled- I mean, how many chances do you get to actually have an item on any menu, ever?  I didn’t even need to look at the rest of the menu because, um, hello- I knew what I was gettin’.  J, on the other hand, opted for something else so we could share two different dishes.

My albacore burger came piled high with Asian-style slaw.  The minute I picked it up I could smell the familiar aromas of garlic, ginger, sesame…it reminded me of the gyoza filling my mom made while I was growing up.  It tasted even better, with a slight kick from the creamy aioli and a brightness from the rice vinegar in the slaw.  It was everything I ever wanted in a burger, for sure.  The sunchoke chips were a real surprise- I’d only had sunchokes once, and decided I wasn’t a huge fan because of their crunchy texture.  However, when deep fried, the natural sugars come out and bring a nice, earthy sweetness to them, similar to taro chips.  I didn’t leave a single one in the tiny cast iron pot they came in.

J’s Barbecue Tofu Chopped Salad was delicious: an array of vegetables, quinoa, black beans and corn sat beneath thick slabs of seasoned tofu drenched in BBQ.  It was like California on a plate, and we finished every bite of that, too.

To end the meal, we shared two warm, chewy chocolate chip cookies sandwiched with oatmeal brown butter ice cream.  Yes, OATMEAL BROWN BUTTER ICE CREAM.  Genius, right?  It’s even better when melting off the edge of a freshly baked cookie.  It’s almost illegal, it’s so good.

Once again, I wish the photos better reflected the meal we had, but you can go and see for yourself- just tweet @BLDchefD a dish you’re craving and maybe she’ll make it for you!  The Tweet-A-Dish is definitely one of the more fun Twitter campaigns there, and I encourage you to participate.

Ok, now go tweet!