Peanut Tofu Mafe with Eggplant & Okra
Serves 4 generously
Rich peanut stew is popular over all of West Africa. This version is rather Senegalese with hunks of tender cabbage and delicate eggplant but with an additional bit of heat from hot chiles (scotch bonnet will make it fiery, serrano or jalapeno much less so). Serve with steamed rice or couscous. The flavor of this mafe will improve as it sits and be even better the next day.
Tip: Press and fry the tofu a day in advance, or use Basic Baked Tofu in place of preparing the tofu.
Tip: If your eggplant is very fresh and small, no need to salt it.
1 pound extra firm tofu
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin`
1/4 teaspoon finely ground black pepper
2 cloves garlic, grated or smashed into a paste
3 tablespoons peanut oil
1 pound Asian eggplant
1/2 pound green cabbage, about one small cabbage
1/2 pound whole fresh okra or green beans
1 large leek
1 large red bell pepper
1 hot chile pepper (scotch bonnet or serrano)
1 small white onion
3 rounded tablespoons tomato paste
One 14 ounce can diced tomatoes or 1 1/2 pounds of chopped plum tomatoes
3 cups vegetable broth
1/3 cup natural smooth salted peanut butter
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar or lemon juice
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
3 tablespoons chopped roasted peanuts, for garnish
1. Slice tofu in 8 equal pieces horizontally and for 20 minutes. In a shallow dish combine soy sauce, black pepper, ground cumin and garlic. Slice each tofu piece on a a diagonal so that you now have 16 triangles. Place tofu in marinade and flip a few times to cover each piece. Let stand while preparing the vegetables for the stew.
2. On a diagonal, slice eggplant into 1/2 inch pieces and sprinkle lightly with salt. If using one small cabbage, trim the very bottom end and remove any wilted outer leaves (do the same if halving or quartering a larger cabbage). Do not core the cabbage; slice into thin wedges 1 inch wide (the core will help keep the leaves together during cooking). Trim away any tough stems from okra or green beans.
3. Trim ends of leeks and chop as fine as possible. Remove core and seeds from bell pepper and chile peppers and chop very fine. Peel and finely mince shallots. In heavy wide 3 quart enameled Dutch oven or steel pot heat 1 tablespoon of the oil over medium heat; add the tofu and fry until browned, about 2-3 minutes. Flip over tofu and brown the other side then remove from pot. Add another tablespoon of oil and brown the eggplant like the tofu; remove from pot and set aside. Add the remaining oil and the chopped leeks and peppers and cook, stirring occasionally, until very soft and golden, about 6 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and fry for another 2 minutes, stirring the paste into the cooking vegetables.
4. Pour in diced tomatoes and vegetable broth and bring mixture to a simmer. If desired, use an immersion blender to puree to a desired smooth consistency. Return tofu and eggplant to the pot and push cabbage wedges and okra/green beans into the broth. Turn heat down to medium low, partially cover and simmer for 25 minutes. In a mixing bowl stir together 1/2 cup of hot broth from the pot with peanut butter; use a fork to slowly stir together until mixture is smooth and creamy. Use a rubber spatula to scrape peanut butter mixture into the pot. Stir well, partially cover and simmer for another 30-35 minutes or until cabbage and eggplant are very tender. Stir in vinegar, taste and add salt and ground pepper as desired.
5. To serve, arrange a serving of vegetables and tofu on top of cooked hot couscous or rice. Ladle the sauce over everything, sprinkle with peanuts and eat!
Add the following vegetables as desired along with cabbage:
-2 inch cubes of winter squash
-2 inch thick slices of sweet potato
-Chunks of carrot
-Slices of bell pepper
-Chunks of white potato