Before you conclude that I’ve totally lost it, let me explain. Tofu is one of those things that people either detest, or are just okay with. Unlike other broadly disliked foods (like brussel sprouts), you never hear anyone proclaiming their unholy love for tofu. People seem to either hate it for its blandness or because of that “tofu” flavor that comes through in almost anything you make with it.
So for all you tofu haters, here’s a dish where you can’t taste the tofu and is far from bland. It’s rich, nutty and decadent with a tart magenta gelée that “pops” both visually and flavourwise. Yes, mine looks a little ghetto because I didn’t strain the gelée, but that’s why you have me. To make the mistakes, so you don’t have to:-)
I know this wasn’t made in a terrine, and doesn’t really have any ingredients associated with a traditional terrine (i.e. liver, headcheese, etc), but I honestly couldn’t think of a better name for it. To prove it, here are some names I rejected:
Tofu cheese: While this is probably more accurate in terms of flavour and texture, it sounds like some kind of awful processed and vacuum sealed vegan product that doesn’t need to be refrigerated.
Tofu pâté: As if tofu isn’t disliked enough by itself, why not put it next to another food item that’s widely reviled.
Tofu dip: Well this is getting closer, but this still has a hippie health food connotation and besides that, this is so dense that if you tried to “dip” a chip or cracker in it, you’d break it off (and we all know that’s the #2 party faux pas after double dipping).
If you’re still not convinced, would it help if I told you this was good for you? Tofu is a great source of protein and has been proven to lower LDL cholesterol. For those concerned about such things, it’s also available in non-GMO organic varieties. Tahini is rich in manganese, calcium, Vitamin E and antioxidants and has phytosterols that help lower lower cholesterol as well.
While the red shiso/tahini combo is really what makes this dish, I realize that dried salted red shiso isn’t exactly easy to find. You could also make the gelée with salted plum (ume). Oh and if you’re vegetarian/vegan you could always just skip the gelée and roll the whole thing in Za’atar or Sumac.
makes 2 ramekins
3 Tbs water
1/2 tsp gelatin
1 1/2 tsp dried salted red shiso (or 2 shiso leaves from Umeboshi)
2 tsp lemon juice
8 oz tofu
3 Tbs tahini
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp lemon juice
Put the water in a ramekin and sprinkle with gelatin and allow it to hydrate (about a minute). Add the shiso and microwave until it comes to a boil (about 30 seconds to 1 minute). Allow the mixture to steep until it cools down a bit. Add the lemon juice then pass the mixture through a tea strainer into 2 ramekins. Coat the sides of the ramekin with a thin layer of the mixture then refrigerate until set.
Cut the tofu into 2 large blocks, place them in a small saucepan and add enough water to cover. Bring the water to a boil, turn down the heat and simmer for a few minutes. Drain and allow the tofu to cool to room temperature. Put each block into a cheese cloth (or several layers of paper towels), mash it up a bit, then squeeze out most of the moisture. You should be left with dryish white curds.
Add the curds to a food processor along with the tahini, salt and lemon juice and process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl at least once.
Using a rubber spatula, spread the mixture a small amount at a time into each ramekin smoothing off each layer and building it up slowly to avoid air pockets. Refrigerate for at least an hour to set (should be the texture of cold cream cheese).
Remove the ramekins from the fridge and place briefly in a hot water bath to release from the ramekin and invert onto a serving plate. Serve with crackers or bread.