When you love food and cooking, I suppose there really could never be enough good “food movies” out there. I’ve seen most of the classics (Big Night, Like Water for Chocolate, Eat Drink,Man Woman, Babette’s Feast, etc) and the non-classics, which -without apology- I love just as much (Spanglish, No Reservations). And when I discover a new one it’s like a revelation, even when it’s not original, subtle or brilliant. Woman On Top has enough food, sex, coconut milk and beautiful people (Penelope Cruz, in particular) to more than make up for its campy romance, plus it has some really great performances by Cruz- who carries the film without effort, and Harold Perrineau (Lost’s Michael) as her childhood friend-turned sassy transvestite.
Watch it soon and you may be inspired to make something like this:
This simple but very tasty recipe is from Gourmet Today and calls for shrimp, which I substituted easily with pressed tofu. Pressing tofu simply means that you drain a block of firm or extra firm tofu, place it on a a few towels, place a few more towels on top of it, and then set something heavy on top like a cookbook or two. Let it press for 20-30 minutes before using it in your recipe.
Brazilian Stew with Coconut Milk, adapted from Gourmet Today
1 lb. firm tofu, pressed (see above)
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
1 (14- to 15-oz) can diced tomatoes including juice
1 medium onion, finely chopped
1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
5 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 can well-shaken unsweetened coconut milk
Toss cubed tofu with black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic, and lemon juice and marinate, covered and chilled, 20 minutes.
Purée tomatoes with juice in a blender until smooth.
Cook onion and bell pepper in olive oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over moderately low heat, stirring, until softened, 8 to 10 minutes. Add cayenne, 1 tablespoon cilantro, and remaining teaspoon salt and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Add tomato purée and simmer briskly, stirring, until mixture is very thick, about 15 minutes.
Stir in coconut milk and bring to a boil, then add marinated tofu, plus any juices from the lemon, and cook, stirring, until tofu is heated through, about 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in remaining 4 tablespoons cilantro and season with salt and pepper.
Serve with rice or a toasted, sliced baguette.