Tuesday, April 30, 2013

In Instagram, Restaurant Inspiration: Uncle and Chilled Tofu


Last week I read a post on Brooklyn Supper that had me reminiscing about our final days in New York and our first days in Colorado (which, I can't believe, is now almost two years ago). 
When we moved out here, I left a large circle of friends and family back east. I knew a few people in Denver, but I didn't know anyone really well. I decided to do the only thing one can do in such a situation: I hit the ground running. I explored almost every neighborhood in the city and I talked to everyone in sight (I've been described as loquacious, which I think is a nice way of saying, she talks a lot). I figured it was a numbers game; if I chatted with at least 25 people per week, at some point, I would click with someone. So I went to children's reading classes at the public library and picnicked at every playground and park in the Denver. And now some of the people that I met in those early days are some of my closest friends in Colorado.
Hold-out, selfie, ladies night
Tina was one of the first people I met when we got to town. I can't remember how our first interaction actually materialized, but I feel like it had something to do with my now-defunct WNYC tote bag (yes, I was the sucker who donated during the pledge drive) and a food-related conversation I had with her husband. Within about 5 minutes we realized that we had lived only a few blocks away from each other in Brooklyn, and we had a lot in common. It was also pretty convenient that we had children the same age.
For more than a year we had weekly play dates, sometimes meeting up more than once for a museum outing or a hike. But now that we've both taken on a few work-related projects, there isn't as much free time. And since my eldest son is in part-time pre-school, and her daughter is in a full-time program, we don't see each other as much as we used to.
Sad, yes, but that's why there's ladies night! (Holla.) I used to feel guilty about going out, but now I realize that those adult-only interactions make me a better mother, a better me and a better friend. I can concentrate on the conversation we're having without looking over my shoulder to see where my kids are or what they are up to. And to be honest, sometimes I just need a break. 
So we went to Uncle, and ate, drank and caught up. It was great.

Uncle, which is in the Highlands section of Denver, takes inspiration from Momofuku and puts out one fabulous plate after the other. We started off with the chilled tofu (served with ginger, scallion, soy vinaigrette and wakame) and fried green tomato steamed buns. Then I got a giant bowl of udon with mushrooms, which hit the spot. I'm a huge fan of finishing off my meal with something sweet, so we ordered the Monkey Bread, served with gelato, pretzels and potato chips...can you say, heaven
Inspired by the very simple preparation of the chilled tofu, I decided to make this recipe (below) from Fifteen Spatulas (no relation). The dish wasn't exactly like the one I had at Uncle, but it made for a really nice meal, and it only took a few minutes to put together. I adapted the recipe by adding a little bit of grated ginger to the sauce, but that was pretty much it. 
Enjoy!

Chilled Tofu with Scallions and Soy Sauce (Adapted ever-so-slightly from Fifteen Spatulas, printed with permission)
** Note: Uncle uses silken tofu in their dish. I think that's what I'm going to use when I make this again. For this recipe, I used soft block tofu. 
Yield: 2 servings
Ingredients:
14 oz block of soft or medium tofu (don't use firm)-- or try silken.

2 scallions, sliced
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp sesame seeds
1/2 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tbsp sriracha

Optional: I added 1/2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
Preparation:
To make the sauce, whisk the scallions, soy sauce, sesame oil, sesame seeds, rice vinegar, sriracha, and ginger together in a small bowl. Then taste the dressing to see if you need to add or adjust any ingredients to suit your taste level.
Slice the tofu into squares or small rectangles, soak them in the dressing and then chill them in the fridge for an hour or so. This will allow all the flavors to meld together and get the tofu chilled. Enjoy!
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8 comments:

  1. Batya, there you go again! Introducing me to a wonderful new restaurant in Denver :) The food looks delicious and light-- just what I've been looking for! Thank you!

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    1. Hi Alison, hope you enjoy it. The lines can get long, but the wait is well worth it. Every dish has been spot on :) Happy eating!

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  2. Hi Batya!

    Belated welcome to the West! This looks lovely - I don't think we have anything quite like that here in UT. Maybe I need to take a food trip to Denver!

    Thanks for stopping by,

    RMW

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    1. Thank you RMW :) Yes, come to Denver. There are lots of terrific place to eat, this being one of them.

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  3. mmm that tofu looks amazing! i need to try it!

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    1. Hi there! It's good, but I think it will be EXCELLENT with silken tofu, which I just picked up from H-Mart! I'm making it again, and I'll be sure to report back :)

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  4. Claudia Ha-ChatoulaMay 1, 2013 at 11:03 PM

    Where r the sparrows? I would like to smash one with a spatula and make a porridge. Nom nom nom.

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