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Fried tofu for cooking Bahasa Indonesia: Tahu ...

Fried tofu for cooking Bahasa Indonesia: Tahu goreng 日本語: ジャカルタの厚揚げ (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A recent article from Kitchen Daily, entitled “Tofu Recipes: 10 Easy Ways To Cook Tofu,” illustrates one of the main reasons I am so disappointed with Kitchen Daily.

From the article title, you’d be lead to expect that the writer would include ten simple recipes for cooking tofu. After all, the wibbly-wobbly stuff is daunting to many home cooks and has a reputation for having odd textures and no flavor. Tips on how to use the stuff and cook it properly, along with serving suggestions, are a start (see Savvy Vegetarian or the Daily Green). You can go even further to suggest ways to implement it in your normal cooking schedule, ala Panlasang Pinoy. Veg Kitchen hits the nail on the head in its article on easy tofu recipes for kids. So does this Blogher post.

Now, I’ll be kind to Kitchen Daily and not spoil all of their article contents, but here’s the first five “slides” (a format I’m also getting tired of, for other reasons):

  1. Baking
  2. Roasting
  3. Grilling
  4. Frying
  5. Marinating

… can you guess that the next five slides also contain basic cooking techniques usable for just about any protein?

Now, let’s not insult KD too much here: they also include a smidgen of tips on each slide about the cooking method, say:

Frying or shallow frying is a great method for cooking tofu because the hot oil dehydrates it, making it chewy in texture. But be careful when frying tofu, you will get lots of splatter. It’s a good idea to press the tofu beforehand.

These are good pointers, although each one makes pressing seem less important than it really is for having a good tofu dish. But really, telling people you can do anything to tofu that you can do with any other ingredient, because they’re basic cooking techniques, is insulting to the reader’s intelligence.

Really, the more helpful part of the article is the video in slide #11, which teaches a person how to press tofu. Oh, and the link to a much better “Ask the Editors” article on how to prepare different kinds of tofu.

The real issue here with KD isn’t that they think their readers are stupid; it’s that they’re trying a modern web reading format with something that doesn’t work well in that mold. Slideshows work alright for sharing a series of recipes, or for a series of instructional photographs. But in a series in which you try to educate your readers on ways to cook tofu, the format forces readers to be introduced to the doldrums of basic cooking techniques. Had the article taken a spin on “10 Easy Ways to Cook Tofu” and featured ten recipes, or “How to Prepare Agadashi Tofu” with a series of instructional photographs on pressing, coating, and frying, the slide format would have worked a bit better.

KD’s not alone though; many cooking websites and blogs have turned to stating the obvious. Stating the obvious, however, assumes that the readership is incapable of understanding or performing basic cooking techniques, treating us as foreigners in a strange land when it comes to stepping in our own kitchen. For some of us, that’s certainly true. But as adults, I think we can all agree that’d we’d rather learn the beautiful complexities of making salsa or create a perfect scrambled egg than how to freeze grapes. After all, cooking is a science and an art, and just tossing us a box of crayons and saying “Go forth and draw a dinosaur” doesn’t teach us much.

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