Vegetarian Ceviche with Tofu

Source: Micki Seibel, December 2008

Source: Micki Seibel, December 2008

How to Make a Vegetarian Ceviche

My friend Alex is a vegetarian but his wife eats seafood. Over the years of cooking with them, it has given me the opportunity to try to adapt many of my beloved “carnivore” recipes like this one: tofu ceviche.Ceviche is a Peruvian method of “cooking” fish by marinating it in citrus (usually lime). The citric acid has the same denaturing effect on the proteins of your fish (or in this case, tofu) as cooking with heat. Of course, ceviche can be tricky to execute in order to time the “cooking” properly so as to not under- or over-cook your subject. Since that’s not an issue with tofu, it makes a wonderfully easy subject for ceviche.

The best thing about tofu is that it has no flavor of its own. Rather, it’s acts a sponge for the flavors you combine with it. In this recipe, it takes on the intense citrus, ginger, and sesame flavors creating a wonderful Asian-Peruvian fusion.

Ingredients

  • 1 block of firm tofu
  • 1 bunch of cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Avocado, cut into 1/2″ square peices (as best as you can, I know it’s mushy)
  • 2 limes (you will use both juice and zest)
  • 1/2 the amount of Olive Oil as the limes produce juice
  • 1 1/2 inch piece of ginger, peeled and grated
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • Bag of Terra chips or crisp flatbread for serving

Instructions

The goal of this first step is to press moisture out of the tofu. It will make the tofu more firm and enable it to replace the lost moisture with more flavor from the dressing.

  1. Cut the tofu in half lengthwise. Place the halves on a cookie sheet lined with two layers of paper towels. Top the tofu with two more layers of paper towels. Place another cookie sheet on top, and place a 280z can on top to weigh it down (basically you have a tofu sandwich with paper towels and cookie sheets, topped with a heavy can). Leave the tofu to sit for 1 hour.
  2. Cut the tofu into 1/2 cubes and place in a bowel.
  3. Add the cilantro and avocado to the tofu and mix well.
  4. In a separate bowl (or martini shaker) mix together the juice of the limes, the zest of the limes, olive oil, ginger, sesame oil, and soy sauce.
  5. Add the dressing to the tofu mixture and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  6. Serve with a side of terra chips or crisp flatbread.