Dan and Annie Shannon must be the cutest damn couple. They have kids and they're fun-loving, frugal vegans! Nah, I shouldn't make fun--I wanted to like their book, Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking. They want to use (mostly) common ingredients, they want to be cheap (they even break down the cost per serving of making each dish), and they're open about ways to use leftovers. What's not to like? But many of the recipes are just bland, some measurements don't work (the lemon-tahini sauce turned out to be a gloppy mess of tahini with some things stuck in it), and they rely too heavily, IMHO, on meat replacements, which are ironically expensive, and totally unnecessary if you can just get past the mindset of needing a serving of meat on each plate. (Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall offers a great restructuring of the common meal, for instance.)
But here's a version of a recipe I really liked (though I doubled the amount of pepper to give it some kick). This works great with some steamed veggies and cooked rice (you can actually use the leftover marinade, whisk in a little corn starch and chili-garlic sauce, and cook it up as a sauce for the veggies), but it's also a great snack by itself for cocktail hour with friends. The authors also suggest tucking the tofu into a sandwich, and if I did that, I think I'd make a bright little vinegary cole slaw to throw on top.
Black Tea and Pepper Tofu
Adapted from Shannon, Mastering the Art of Vegan Cooking
2 cups strong brewed black tea, room temperature (I like Russian Caravan for its smokiness)
2 tablespoons crushed black peppercorns, plus more to sprinkle on top
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
Juice of 1 lemon
1 teaspoon soy sauce
1 16-oz. package extra-firm tofu, drained and cut into squares or strips
¼ cup neutral oil (grapeseed, canola,…)
Lemon wedges, for serving
In a shallow dish, whisk together the tea, pepper, lemon zest, lemon juice, and soy sauce.
Pat tofu dry and place in the marinade (above). Leave for 10 minutes, then flip and marinade for another 5 minutes.
Heat the oil over medium heat. Working in batches, fry the tofu on both sides to golden. Drain pieces on a paper towel-lined plate.
Serve hot, seasoned with more pepper if desired and lemon wedges for squeezing over the top.