Friday, February 20, 2009

Fun with Leftovers!: Falafel and Charmoula

Our fridge has been inundated with bits of leftovers lately, and kind of silly amounts, where you don't really have enough for a meal from any one item. Undaunted, I decided to combine some things and see what sounded good. I had a small amount of leftover Charmoula sauce and Falafel mix, and decided to mix the two together and use the mixture as a breading for tofu steaks, knowing how well the falafel would brown. 

First, I had to prepare the tofu, which really needs to be pressed if you intend to make a nice compact steak out of it. Left alone, the tofu will be watery and more inclined to break apart. I let my tofu sit with weight on top of it for about an hour, pouring out the accumulated water every once and a bit, so the tofu wouldn't be sitting in the water and reabsorbing it.

You can see how much liquid comes out of the tofu:

Rather than just pressing the falafel mix onto the tofu and hoping for the best, I decided to go with a classic dredging procedure, albeit with very non-traditional ingredients.

Falafel-crusted tofu steaks:
Tofu steaks, cut to slightly over 1/2" thickness
1/3 cup flour
Smoked paprika 
Sea salt and fresh ground pepper
Falafel mix
Charmoula Sauce

Mix together the flour and the spices with your fingers on the plate you intend to use in the dredging line-up. Make sure you break up any clumps of spices. I didn't give amounts on purpose, because all amounts were in the vein of "3 shakes of spice container". Just trust your own tastes and know that not very much of this mix will actually make it onto the steaks.

Mix the ketchup and sriracha, using only as much of the second as you are comfortable with. Thin out with water until the mixture is of a similar consistency to beaten eggs. 

Mix the falafel mix with a bit of the charmoula sauce. For two steaks, I used approximately 1/3 cup falafel and 2 tbsp. charmoula.

Begin to heat your pan on medium to medium-high high with a good amount of mild oil coating the bottom of the pan, and get your dredging line-up in order.

Begin by placing the steaks in the flour mix and coat the steaks on all sides, slapping off the excess flour before moving to the next step. Quickly dip the tofu steaks in the ketchup mixture, before placing in the falafel and charmoula mix. Coat the steaks well, using your hands to press the mixture all over the tofu and compacting the coating as much as possible to keep it in place on the steaks.

Brown the falafel-crusted tofu in the pan, taking care when placing them into the pan, as the oil will react to the moisture of the falafel mixture. Flip the steaks when you see that the first side is well-browned, about 3-4 minutes, and brown on the second side. You may attempt to brown the edges, but it is not necessary.

I served this with some basmati rice with peas, dill, and mint, and colored with turmeric. Salt and pepper this rice to taste, and enjoy!

I really enjoyed this meal, especially the contrast of the crunchy falafel coating with the creaminess of the tofu. The rice, which was almost an afterthought, was delicious, and I will certainly be using this preparation again.

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