It’s getting cold in Seattle….. Our winter has finally set in after a spectacularly long and beautiful summer. This cold, damp, weather calls for some warm spicy food….
On Tuesday our usual weekly local produce delivery box came. I was emptying the contents and moving stuff into the fridge… Tomatoes, avocado, lime, 2 different types of apples, garlic, leeks, squash, zucchini…. and then out came a giant red cabbage. Now this was not part of our usual assortment of produce. At first I kinda just stared at it… Holding this giant bowling ball of a vegetable in my hand, awed by the beautiful purplish reddish color, it’s super glossy, almost silky, outer layer…..If I could just replicate this color onto bedsheets for our master bedroom, or an accent wall I thought….
Back to the cabbage in hand… What in the world was I going to make with this? The usual indian side dish sounded boring, coleslaw was not exciting either, so I decided to just put it in the fridge and figure it out another day.
Thursday, 4:45 pm. Simi and I walked in the door. Our boots both dripping with water. A full day at school, followed by Kumon, we were exhausted. I hadn’t even thought of dinner…. Opened the fridge, there it was, staring me in the face, the red cabbage. Next to it lay a block of tofu… Somehow thai food popped into my head. I scrambled through the cabinets trying to find any condiments, spices, oils that I could mix together…anything that would give me an asian sauce. Then, I could just put on some rice and stir fry the rest together, dump on the sauce and be done with dinner….
What I didn’t expect was that it was going to turn out to be one our most favorite asian dishes ever…
The sweetness and spice of this dish is so well balanced, complemented by the beautiful color and crunch of the cabbage….and did you know that sesame seeds are the empress of non-dairy foods that are high in calcium. At 87.8mg of calcium per tablespoon they are so good for our bones and our tastebuds….oh…my…gosh. YUM
4 tbsp sesame oil
3 tbsp peanut butter or sesame seed butter (for a nut free option)
2 1/2 tbs agave sweetener
2 tbsp red curry paste
3 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame seeds + more to garnish
3 cups purple cabbage, shredded
8 oz extra firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 cup uncooked brown (or white) rice
In a medium sauce pan, add 1 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Add the brown rice. When water begins to boil again, reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Cook for approx. 50 mins. Then turn off the stove and let sit for another 10 minutes covered before fluffing with a fork. Set aside. (Note: cooking time will be much shorter for white rice)
In a small mixing bowl mix together the peanut butter, agave, red curry paste, soy sauce, 1/2 tsp salt, 2 tbsp of the sesame oil, and 1 tbsp sesame seeds.
Add 1 tbs sesame oil to a pan on medium-high heat. Add the cubed tofu. Let brown slightly then add 3 tbs of the sauce mixture. Sauté, tossing continuously, until tofu is golden brown and toasted on all sides. Remove from heat and set aside.
In another pan on medium heat add the remaining 1 tbs sesame oil. Next, add all of the cabbage and let soften (approx. 1 min). Finally, add 3 tbs of the sauce mixture and continue cooking for another 4-6 mins until cabbage is al dente. Remove from heat, combine with the tofu, and toss with the remaining sauce.
Transfer the rice to a platter. Top with the tofu and cabbage. Garnish with sesame seeds.