Monday, March 26, 2007

Sizzle And Crunch

The worst sound on this earth is that of crunching fiberglass and caving fenders. Nothing can compare to it. How do I know this? I got into my very first car accident this weekend. Not bad for 13 years of driving. True to type, I hit a completely innocent and perfectly stationary car. D’oh. Oh but that’s not all. The car I so unfairly dented and scraped just happened to be the brand new SUV belonging to my landlady’s father. D’oh. When I realized what I had just done, I saw the goosebump-inducing crunching sound for what it was - a prelude to the giant waive of denial soon to be dwarfed by sheer panic, quickly followed by clammy dread of all the crap I had ahead of me. ____ ( ← please insert the worst curse-word you can think of).

From the worst sound in my world, let’s move on to a few of the best: the tearing of an envelope holding a real old-fashioned, hand-written letter; a cell phone booting up after you accidentally (or intentionally) drop-kick it across the pavement; the tearing, crunching and shattering of a crusty loaf of bread; wine hitting the bottom of a glass as it swirls, bubbles, and settles down; and the sizzle of food cooking on a stovetop.

Sizzling is warm and promising. It sounds like you’re doing something right (as opposed to say, backing into shiny new car), as though progress is being made. It also makes tofu really really good. I happen to adore tofu but I acknowledge that I may be in the minority. I like all tofu – from the squishy and jiggly silken tofu to the dense extra firm. It is the extra firm tofu that benefits most from a good sizzle in some olive oil. Tofu cubes hold their shape much better when their outsides are cauterized, so to speak. The insides remain soft, giving something generally shapeless and textureless a contrast between chewable and meltable.

I can’t pretend to have put together a recipe for this stir fry. I was too hungry while making it to be paying any attention to the amounts of ingredients I impatiently tossed in. I can say that I threw some tofu cubes into very hot olive oil and moved them about till they were golden on most sides. I then added in some chopped ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes. After those became fragrant I added snowpeas and stir fried them until they were bright green but still crunchy. Finally (as I was getting close to dying of hunger) I poured in soy sauce, about two teaspoons of sesame oil, a tablespoon of toasted sesame seeds, salt and pepper.

I am now in the process of conquering my new fear of driving and acute paranoia of every crunch being a shattered tail light. The sound is lingering in my head. I wish I could just listen to sizzling tofu all day.


JC said...

Whoa, sorry to hear about the car trouble. I've had more than my share, and you're right those sounds are awful.

Speaking of awful, I have tofu issues. I like it in theory, and I usually like it when I have it at a restaurant, but the times when I've tried to sub it for chicken when I'm cooking at home it has ended up really grossing me out. I wish I could learn to cook it properly. What I don't like is when the middle of the tofu remains its bland self, untouch by whatever sauce it has been cooked in. Maybe I should marinate it? Or maybe use more oil when cooking it.

Ben Chen said...

I would like to introduce the latest entry into the world of honorary asians.............ANNA!

Sorry to hear about the car, but I guess bad driving comes with the territory? Ok, I AM A RACIST!

Homesick Texan said...

Sorry you got into a wreck, but that's not a bad record for 13 years of driving. I got into my first wreck about a month after I got my driver's license. And fried tofu always makes everything OK, it's so delicious!

Anna said...

JC - Mmmm tofu issues. Maybe cut them into smaller pieces? So as to minimize the ratio of flavorless inside to sauced up outside? Marinating tofu can never be bad but I hardly have the patience. You?

Ben - Sweet! I am already an honorary Indian, you mean I am an honorary Asian as well?? That rocks. I actually hadn't heard the stereotype about Asian drivers. I get really angry whenever people say women are bad drivers... although it seems that now I don't have a whole lot to argue against it.

Homesick Texan - I knew my first wreck was coming. It was long overdue. I am just grateful it wasn't anything more dramatic. Kinda wish it wasn't in my own parking lot though. I cannot explain my love of tofu. I do love it though, occasional bland insides and all.

Alicia said...

Ha ha, Anna. I guess you were right about me jinxing you by talking about your lack of accidents so much while I was there. You are still lucky though. I got in a fender bender pretty much every time I got behind the wheel in high school. But I was still not as bad as Ben!

Anna said...

Ben was a bad driver? Never knew. Ben, are you a bad driver? Fess up.
And you did totally jinx me, Lissa. Up and down, you jinxed me and it's all your fault. There. I feel better now.

Ben Chen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben Chen said...

I am an excellent driver! It was just that ONE time in the snow in 1996. LET IT GO!!!!!