“Umiinom ka pa rin pala?”
People who know me as a vegan and a fermentation enthusiast are often surprised that I still drink alcohol. Perhaps they think because I eat healthy I don’t enjoy a bit of indulgence. In jest I would respond, “Wine and beer are fermented!”
The ‘nom in inom
And being Pinoy I love the pulutan as much as I do the inuman. As a vegan though, it’s not unusual for me to bring fresh lettuce and sliced cucumbers as palate-cleansing pica-pica when drinking at friends’ homes.
I’ve even brought steamed kamote for those who might want something more virtuous to counter the vice.
When dining out, fried tofu is often a reliable go-to in places that serve beer. Even if it is not on the menu, sometimes it is worth asking if the cooks are willing to cobble up a simple tofu stir-fry as bar chow.
When I made this ginisang burong mustasa at tokwa I initially wanted to serve it as ulam to hot rice. And you still can.
But to be honest, after I tasted it, my mind immediately went to cold crisp beer.
A counterpoint to the crispy fried tofu with the soft center was the mild bitterness, sourness, and funk from the fermented mustard greens. There was also a hint of heat from the ginger in the buro.
Can I cook ferments?
This recipe requires cooking the burong mustasa, and some of you might ask, “Won’t cooking in high heat kill the good bacteria in the ferment?”
Yes. Cooking lacto-fermented food above 42℃ will kill the beneficial living organisms in it, like the lactic acid bacteria.
But the truth is I don’t mind cooking some of my ferments because I also make sure to eat them raw regularly.
Plus you still get some of the benefits of fermentation like digestibility and better bioavailability of nutrients, and of course more fiber from the vegetables.
- 2 pcs firm or extra firm tofu (tokwa), cut into bite-sized pieces
- 1 cup burong mustasa, chopped into smaller pieces
- 1 to 2 Tbsp burong mustasa brine
- 1 red onion, peeled and sliced
- 2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
- Cooking oil
- Salt and pepper
- Sesame oil, spring onions (optional)
- Heat oil in a pan and fry the tokwa over high heat until all sides are golden brown.
- Remove from heat. Season with salt and pepper then set aside.
- In the same pan, sauté the onion until translucent.
- Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.
- Add chopped burong mustasa and a bit of the brine. Sauté just until warmed through.
- Add the fried tofu and combine well. Taste and adjust.
- Garnish with a drizzle of sesame oil and spring onions
Note: If you don’t want to cook your burong mustasa, follow the recipe but skip step 4. Cook the aromatics, tofu, and the brine, then turn off the heat, and tip them into a bowl with the chopped burong mustasa. Mix well and serve with cold beer.