As some of you may have caught on by now, I find it utterly excruciating to see food dumped out. Even before I came to know firsthand the hours upon hours of planning and demanding labor and careful tending that growing food requires, I was always upset at the very thought of leftovers tossed into the trash, or even the compost, produce rotting in the back of the fridge or out in the field. I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that I can’t always save every last crumb and shriveled leaf and overgrown turnip — but that doesn’t stop me from seeking out yet another creative way to minimize waste, use the odds and ends of leftovers, the “by-products” we usually discard, and food not at its prime.
We ended up with a lot of leftover beer after the Square Dance last weekend, way too much and too flat to even make a dent in. Since I don’t drink, I detached myself from the effort to save it… until today, eyeing the gallon still biding its time in the fridge, it occurred to me that this was a great opportunity to experiment with cooking with beer.
Beer-battered tofu turned out to be even better than I expected, especially for being just a few simple ingredients whisked together. Much thanks to oh my veggies for the guidance. Does take some patience to leave the tofu frying long enough to get good and golden-crispy… worked out perfectly to work on making a kale salad between flips. I still had a fair amount of batter after I finished with the tofu, so I threw in short lengths of the kale stem left over from the kale salad and fried the whole works in the pan — yum! Anise rice rounded out the meal perfectly.
Beer Battered Tofu
1 pkg. firm or extra-firm tofu (or whatever you want to batter and fry)
1 cup beer of choice (can use gluten-free)
1 cup flour of choice (I used millet)
1/2 teaspoon salt
Oil for frying
Drain and rinse tofu, cut into strips, and squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Pressing with a weight for 30-90 minutes works great, but if you are lazy and in a hurry like me, you can just give each strip a quick press between your hands over the sink before continuing. In a wide, shallow container, whisk together beer, flour, and salt, then dredge the tofu in the mixture while you heat oil in a pan (enough to generously cover the bottom). Stir the mixture one more time, coating the tofu as much as possible, then fill the pan with strips, let fry over medium heat until golden and crispy, then flip and cook the other side (which will take maybe half as much time). Meanwhile, stir the batter back up and start soaking the next batch in it. Add a splash more oil if necessary, add the rest of the tofu strips to the pan and fry in the same manner. Then get creative with the rest of the batter… the sky is the limit!