I’ve been in Seattle since last Friday afternoon and had an Asian Tofu event everyday. On Monday, however, I had three things scheduled: a morning TV show on King 5 (NBC affiliate) in front of a live audience, a noontime radio interview at KPLU (NPR), and an evening class at Book Larder. Lucky for me, I didn’t have to be at the station until 9am (yay!) and it was located about 10 minutes from where I was staying. Even downtown Seattle road construction (full of detours) couldn’t make me late.
With a rental car, I figure that I didn’t need an assistant like I did in Vancouver. That said, I had to scramble for dishes, prep bowls and cooking equipment. Here’s a tip: Make sure you have some food friends or make some quickly when you are doing out-of-town gigs. I used VRBO to get a studio rental apartment, which was well equipped for basic cooking. I was supposed to demo a dish and then show two extra finished dishes. I’d pick straightforward recipes but still had lots of prep to do and props to gather on Saturday and Sunday.
I needed a food processor to grind up the cashew and cardamom fudge and asked fellow cookbook author Pat Tanumihardja, who asked her mother. Her mom’s was old and not pretty, she said. So I borrowed one from Lara Hamilton at Book Larder bookstore, promising to return it when I taught the class. For prep bowls other small wares, I raided the VRBO rental and Eric Banh’s restaurants, Monsoon and Ba Bar. Eric and I are friends so he happily obliged.
On Monday morning, I lugged my gear to the New Day Northwest studio at the King 5 building. Producer Heidi Eng and I reviewed the minute segment and then the director told me when I’d be on. They did a teaser at the beginning and then I waitted quietly in the back. Finally, Heidi said, “You’re up next!”
I walked out to the set and saw the studio audience, which was prepped and perky. Show host Margaret Larson and I quickly ran through what we’d be doing. Then we were on. Here’s the segment:
It was nice that some audience member laughed at my jokes. Afterwards, I fielded questions off camera and then we portioned out the food for everyone to taste. They liked it all! Jump to this page for the pressed tofu recipe.
Then it was just a few minutes of driving to KPLU near Seattle’s Space Needle station. I’d written down the wrong address and paced up and down the same block four (4!) times before show host and Seattle Times columnist Nancy Leson came running out and screamed at me to come in. Someone had spotted an Asian woman looking lost outside the building and asked Nancy if she was waiting for me.
Nancy and Dick Stein have cooked from my books for years. Dick is super into Asian food. He is a curious about replicating familiar and unfamiliar foods. We sat in the recording studio for about 30 minutes chatting about Asian tofu, the cookbook and the subject. There was so much good content that Dick split it up into two segments. Here’s the first segment as a downloadable MP3 file
Dick is a sweetheart and gifted me these fruity hot chiles from his garden and a jar opener; Dick is really into jazz, can't you tell? I had to use his opener at my evening class to access a jar of chile bean sauce.
Later in the afternoon, I brought my soaked soybeans and the food processor to Book Larder for the DIY tofu class. It was suppose to be a demo with me doing the work. But I decided that it would be more fun with some class participation.
I made soy milk from scratch and also had culinary coordinator Rachael Coyle buy locally made soy milk. I wanted to do a side-by-side comparison. Also, I wanted to do a coagulant comparison between gypsum and nigari crystals. The Book Larder class was packed with 30 people and I set up ingredients and equipment for a pre-class show and tell. There were various kinds of tofu that I had collected during the tour, as well as some stuff gifted to me.
After the soy milk was done, four volunteers stepped up to make the tofu. They were all careful and nervous but it worked out fine in the end. We made block tofu, some oboro tofu curds, and molded one in a colander too.
What was the verdict? All of the tofu made with DIY soy milk got eaten up. The storebought milk was fine but people were intrigued by the tofu produced from milk that I had made. No one seemed to side with gypsum or nigari.
What was really satisfying was that there were a number of people who’d been cooking from my work and a handful, including Asian Tofu too. “Your recipes work and they taste good!” one woman said. Music to an author’s ears.