In Somerville, MA. about a ten minute walk from Harvard Square, is Dali, a tapas restaurant with which I have extremely fond associations. I was first introduced to the place around ten years ago, by my very dear friends, Andrew and Heather Feland. At that time they were living in Arlington, I was going to school in Cambridge, and we all worked - she and I for meager non-profit salaries, he as a tireless volunteer - at the Higgins Armory Museum, which, if you don't know, is a fabulous repository of medieval and Renaissance arms and armor, located right here in Worcester, Massachusetts. My partner and I had several early dates there, and over the years it's been the location for a number of birthdays and special occasions, as well as the sort of random visits one pays when hit by a mighty craving for sangria after a class, a museum-related outing, one of those great medieval or Early Modern colloquia they have at the Barker Center, or just some long, hard shopping (between the Coop, Lush, and Cardullo's, Harvard Square can really wear a person out!).
Along with great sangria, Dali has, among other things, the nicest staff (if it's your birthday, they bring your dessert with a candle in a frog-shaped holder, and blow bubbles at you!), the craziest decor (I mean, look at it), and the most awesomely garlicky green mojo sauce in the history of the world. I'm serious: if you eat this stuff, you will come home smelling like a vampire's worst nightmare, an aroma that will continue to exude from your very pores for a minimum of 24 hours, which is why it's probably a good idea to go with someone that has A. a high tolerance for allium sativum, and/or B. already sleeps in the same bed with you, so no harm, no foul. Anyway, this sauce is traditionally served with shrimp that have been fried in a saffron batter, but as a non-shrimp-eater, one needs to find something else on which to pour it, and one recent night I decided to make that something some nice, crispy tofu. A cursory web search brought up a variety of recipes, several of which I conflated to produce the redolent offering with which I hereby present you. Go ahead, I dare you (you won't be sorry, unless your surname happens to be Dracula, and even then, it's absolutely worth the risk)!
~ 2 lb. extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
~ 1/3 cup vegetable broth, mixed with 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
~ Egg replacer for 1 egg (1 tbsp., mixed with 3 tbsp. cold water)
~ 1/2 tsp. each: salt, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder
~ 1/4 tsp. baking soda
~ 1/2 cup flour
~ Oil for frying
~ In a microwave safe bowl or beaker, heat the broth and saffron mixture for about 30 seconds, until hot.
~ In a bowl, whisk together the egg replacer, baking soda, and remaining spices.
~ Add in flour, whisking until mixture resembles pancake batter. Set aside to rest for an hour.
~ Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and prepare a nonstick baking sheet.
~ Cut each pound of tofu into eight approximately equal pieces.
~ Heat up oil in large, deep skillet over medium-high heat.
~ Dredge the tofu pieces in the batter, then fry in batches until golden brown, being careful not to crowd the pan, a few minutes on each side.
~ As the tofu is cooked, transfer it to the baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until you've used all the pieces.
The Mojo Sauce
~ 6-8 tbsp. garlic, minced (trust me!)
~ 1 teaspoon cumin
~ 3/4 teaspoon salt
~ 2 cups fresh cilantro, chopped
~ 1 cup fresh parsley
~ 1/2 cup virgin olive oil
~ 1/4 cup nutritional yeast
~ In a food processor, blend the garlic, cilantro, parsley, salt and cumin.
~ With the food processor running, gradually add the olive oil and nutritional yeast, until the sauce is thick but not paste-like (you can add a bit of water, up to about 1/4 cup, if it looks too thick).
~ Transfer to a small pot and heat over a low flame for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently; it will probably thicken a bit more, but that's okay, thin with a little more water if necessary.
~ Remove from heat.
~ Serve the tofu over rice, salad, or all by itself, with the mojo sauce ladled on as generously as you dare.