Tofu Pancakes, Six Ways

MAKES: 4 servings

TIME: 30 minutes

Simple and delicious as this recipe is, it has chameleon-like qualities: Add garlic, ginger, and scallions for an Asian twist; garlic, ginger, cilantro, and Sambar Powder for an Indian flavor; or capers, olives, and basil or a spoonful of Traditional Pesto for a Mediterranean flair. See the variations.

11/2 pounds firm tofu, patted dry

3 tablespoons tahini or any nut butter

1/3 cup soy milk or water

1/2 cup all-purpose, rice, or whole wheat flour

Salt or soy sauce

1/4 cup chopped fresh herbs, like parsley, basil, cilantro, dill, or chives (optional)

2 to 3 tablespoons peanut, dark sesame, or neutral oil, like grapeseed or corn

Put the tofu, tahini, and soy milk in a food processor and pure until the tofu is smooth.

Transfer to a large mixing bowl and sprinkle with the flour, some salt or soy sauce, and the fresh herbs if you’re using them; stir well to combine. It should be the consistency of a thick batter; add more liquid or flour to adjust the consistency if necessary. (The batter can be made ahead to this point, covered with plastic, and refrigerated for up to a day.)

Put the oil in large nonstick or well-seasoned cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Spoon the batter into the pan in whatever size cakes you like but leaving enough room to flip. Cook, undisturbed, until they turn golden and release easily from the pan, about 4 minutes. Flip carefully and cook until done, another 3 minutes, then serve.

Variations

Tofu Pancakes, Asian Style. Lovely with any of the Asian-style sauces: Add 1 tablespoon each minced garlic and peeled fresh ginger and 2 tablespoons minced scallion. Use the rice flour, season with soy sauce, and cook in dark sesame oil.

Tofu Pancakes with Kimchi. Great with Soy and Sesame Dipping Sauce and Marinade, Korean Style: Substitute Chile-Garlic Paste for the tahini or omit the tahini altogether. Add 1/2 cup or more chopped Kimchi. Cook the pancakes in dark sesame oil.

Tofu Pancakes, Thai Style. My favorite is with Peanut Sauce, Six Ways, but Basil Dipping Sauce and Fishless Fish Sauce are delicious too: Substitute peanut butter for the tahini. Add a tablespoon each minced garlic, ginger, and lemon-grass and 1 or 2 Thai chiles, seeded and thinly sliced. Use cilantro for the fresh herbs and cook the pancakes in the peanut oil.

Tofu Pancakes, Indian Style. Perfect with an assortment of chutneys: Substitute 2 tablespoons Sambar Powder for the tahini and add a tablespoon each minced garlic and peeled fresh ginger. Use cilantro for the fresh herb.

Tofu Pancakes, Mediterranean Style. Substitute 1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes or Roasted Red Peppers for the tahini and add 1/4 cup each pitted black olives and pine nuts; pulse in the food processor until finely chopped before adding the tofu. Use basil for the fresh herb.