Fava Beans and Tofu

A seasonal celebration always at Cafe Drake HRV is the arrival in local markets of giant fresh fava bean pods.

After the shelling, much waste. Turns out there's not much you can do with the shed pods other than compost.

Shelled fava beans before quick blanching.

Blanched fava beans are cooled in ice water before peeling.

Tarragon, snipped from Cafe Drake HRV's herb garden, is our herb of choice for flavoring fresh fava beans.

For those who haven't cooked fresh fava beans in awhile (or ever), the process is laborious but simple. Pour yourself a glass of wine before beginning or cue up some relaxing tunes - this is gonna take a few minutes. Remove beans from the pods and discard pods. Place the shelled beans in a pot of heavily salted boiling water. Boil for 3 minutes, drain and place in a waiting ice bath. Individually peel each bean and set aside. Proceed with any recipe. Above, the tender, creaminess of fresh fava beans was enhanced only with a bit of tarragon, salt and black pepper. For best results cook in butter or olive oil.

The fava beans were enjoyed with heirloom rice from South Carolina and this insanely delicious (and fast and easy) weeknight tofu entree: begin by making the sauce. Mix in a bowl: 3 heaping T. of tomato ketchup, 2 T. soy sauce, 2 T. Worcestershire sauce, 1 T. hot chili sauce (or hot sauce or chili paste) and 1 t. sesame oil. Set aside and heat 1-2 T. vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet. When the oil is hot - keep the flame high - throw in 1-3 dried red chilies and 1 small green bell pepper (cut into thin slivers). Stir-fry for a few minutes until the peppers begin to lose their rawness. Add to the skillet about 1 T. of grated or minced ginger and a large fistful of coarsely chopped cilantro. Stir and add the sauce and finally, 1 package cubed firm tofu. Mix carefully and simmer gently, uncovered, on a low flame, for 5 minutes. Serve hot or warm with rice or noodles. Hint: Prevent tofu from falling apart during cooking with an old trick; simmer cut tofu in hot water for 3 minutes, drain in a colander and let sit to firm up for 10 minutes before preceding with recipe. A valuable tool for tofu chefs to be certain.


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