Tofu mole tacos: 42 cents each

Now, I’m not always one to toot my own horn, but I hereby announce that this is the best tofu dish I’ve ever made—or even tasted. I’m not anti-tofu by any means, but even I admit it can be an impenetrable, waterlogged block of blah, resistant to all but the most drastic attempts at flavor or textural improvements. This dish changes all of that. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to even tell this is tofu—it has a firm, almost meat-like texture and really soaks up the rich, chocolatey mole flavor. (This does call for pre-made mole sauce. Back in October I made a super-fantastic version from scratch and still had a bag of it kicking around the freezer, which is how I conceived of this dish to begin with. You can certainly use store-bought, but be forewarned I can’t vouch for it in taste or price.)

The amounts below make about 10 tacos, with a few tortillas left over.

Special equipment:
-Dutch oven or vessel for deep-frying
-Candy thermometer
-Tortilla press
-Parchment paper

• Approximately 1 1/2 cups mole sauce: $1.50 (I’m guessing, based on how much it cost to make in October)
• 1 block extra-firm tofu: $1.19
• 1-2 cups canola oil for frying: 75 cents
• 2 cups masa flour: 20 cents
• 1/4 tsp salt: 1 cent
• Juice from 1 lime: 33 cents
• Cilantro leaves: 20 cents
TOTAL: $4.18/10 = 42 cents each

First step: Cut the tofu in half and weight it with a plate for about half an hour to expel moisture, as described in this post (scroll down).

Meanwhile, make the tortillas. Combine the 2 cups masa flour with 1 1/4 cups water and the salt until it becomes a cohesive dough. You may have to knead it a little with your hands. Form into ping-pong-sized balls. (You’ll probably get 12 to 16.) Cover the balls with a towel to keep from drying out. Put the ball between two pieces of parchment paper on a tortilla press. (Preferably cast iron.)

Push down on the lever.

Peel the tortilla off the parchment paper and cook for 50 seconds each side on an ungreased skillet or griddle. (I use B.’s grandmother’s antique iron pancake griddle.) you’ll know the skillet is hot enough if it’s getting blackened parts on each side.

You’ll have to do this one at a time. Remove each to a plate, stacking them on top of one another, and cover with a dish towel to keep warm and pliable.

Heat the canola oil to 375 degrees F (I use a candy thermometer). Cut the water-expelled tofu into domino shapes and fry them on all sides.

Drain on paper towels. They’re not gonna look too good naked.

Heat the mole in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the tofu dominos and simmer for a few minutes to heat through.

To serve, put two tofu dominos and a spoonful of mole sauce in the middle of a tortilla. Sprinkle with a little lime juice and top with cilantro.

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