Updated: Jun 4, 2022
To be honest I am not a big fan of tofu due to its blandness. However, I am acutely aware of its wonderful nutritional health benefits, so incorporate it into my diet every so often. But the recipe for me has to be spectacular, and this is that recipe.
Let's also discuss gastriques. A gastrique is a dressing, or sauce, whose base is caramelized sugar and is mixed with vinegar. The word is derived from the Latin "gaster" that means stomach, and the French coined the word gastrique. As a trivia fact, the word "gastronomy" was not coined till 1800, when the French poet Joseph de Berchoux wrote a poem on good living, a homage to the ancient Greek poem called "Gastrologia".
The magic of this recipe is the silken tofu, which is my favorite variety, combined with perfectly cooked edamame and brought alive by the wonderful celery seed-chili gastrique. Each components adds to the dish in perfect harmony, the edamame add the freshness with the rich butter, the gastrique the spice and acid to bring the tofu alive. I love how this dish is beautiful and unique to look at, but also on your palate. I simplified this recipe by not making the silken tofu at home, but buying it ready.
This cookbook has been on my shelf for sometime now and aI have finally had the courage to cook from it. Each recipe is detailed, complex and involves many steps. However, the recipes are superb. Gabriel Hamilton is a self taught chef that opened the famed Prune restaurant (now closed) in New York, that became a success and was very highly rated. The book is a compilation of the recipes from the restaurant. This is a messy cookbook, the chef has notes scribbled all over the pages, images of tape stuck with changes in the menu, and more, but it is an insight into the mind of a brilliant chef.
For more recipes from this amazing cookbook, click here.
1 pack silken tofu
For the celery seed gastrique:
1/2 cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1/2-1 teaspoon chili flakes
For the soybeans:
2 cups soy beans, frozen ok, but bring to room temperature
4 tablespoons salted butter
10 tablespoons water
Grey sea salt, or any good quality large grain sea salt.
To make the gastrique:
Soak the celery seeds and the chili flakes in the apple cider vinegar for 30 minutes. Have this ready before you begin with the sugar caramelization.
Cook the sugar and water in a small pan on very low heat till the sugars have caramelized and the liquid is a deep amber color. Do NOT stir and do not undercook. It should be a dark amber color.
Mix the vinegar into the caramel, careful it will hiss, bubble and spit. Mix in and set aside to cool. Stir well to incorporate the caramel into the vinegar completely.
In a small pot cook the soybeans, butter and water till they are almost dry and the beans are cooked through. You want the beans to still have some crunch and not get absolutely mushy.
Heat the beans and add a few scoops to a bowl. Take a tableppoon and scoop the soft tofu in one smooth swipe. You are looking for small clean spoonfuls. Add 2-3 scoops per bowl. Drizzle the gastrique on the beans and the dish. Finish with a few grains fo grey sea salt or any other large grain salt.