Archive for ‘Tofu’

August 10, 2012

Kung Pao Tofu

This is NOT the Americanized version of this classic Sichuan dish: this is the real deal! You can find Sichuan peppercorns at a Chinese grocery store on the cheap, or you can order them online. The Sichuan peppercorns give this dish its characteristic tingly sensation and spicy flavor. If you don’t have both dark and light soy sauce, you can just use 2 tsp of the soy sauce you have.

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 2

Adapted from Appetite for China

  • 16 ounces dou gan or extra firm tofu
  • 2 to 3 gloves garlic, minced
  • 5 slices of ginger
  • 5 to 6 scallions, roughly chopped, plus some thinly sliced scallions for optional garnish
  • 2 tbsp peanut oil
  • At least 10 dried red chilis (add more for more spice)
  • 1 tbsp whole Sichuan peppercorns (or ½ tsp ground Sichuan peppercorns)
  • At least one handful of dry roasted peanuts

Marinade

  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Shaoxing rice wine or medium dry sherry
  • 1 1/2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tbsp water

Sauce

  • 3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 tsp dark Soy sauce
  • 1 tsp light Soy sauce
  • 2 tsp dark rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tbsp chicken stock or water

1. Cube the tofu and mix in the marinade ingredients. Let stand while you prepare the other ingredients.

2. If you haven’t done so already, mince the garlic and peel and slice the ginger. Roughly chop the white parts of scallions, and thinly slice the green parts for garnish (optional.) Either leave the dried chilis whole, or slice them in half and take out as many seeds as possible.

3. In another bowl, mix together the ingredients for the sauce and set aside. (Note: Different brands of soy sauces vary in terms of saltiness, so taste your sauce. If it’s too salty, add some sugar and water to dilute.)

4. Heat a wok with oil over high heat. Before the wok begins to smoke, add the chilis and Sichuan peppercorn. Stir-fry briefly until the chilis are slightly blistered and oil is slightly fragrant.

5. Add tofu and stir-fry 2 to 3 minutes.

6. Add garlic, ginger, and scallions, and stir-fry until fragrant, about 2 minutes.

7. Pour in sauce and mix to coat the other ingredients.

8. When the sauce is thickened and shiny, stir in peanuts.

9. Transfer to plates, garnish with thinly sliced scallions, and serve.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

August 2, 2012

Crispy Tofu and Vegetables with Peanut Sauce

This is a delicious and comforting weeknight recipe. You can use any vegetables you have on hand (I used sweet potatoes, red bell peppers, and carrots). The measurements for the sauce are approximate and feel free to add more sugar, soy sauce, or vinegar, depending on how salty, sweet, or acidic you like it. The water is important to add because the sauce will thicken as it cooks, and it can become gummy if the water isn’t added in the beginning. As the tofu turns golden brown, you might feel tempted to stir, but don’t. Just let it sit and crisp up in the pan for 5 minutes, and check every few minutes to see if it’s golden brown. This is a simple stir-fry, but tastes phenomenal!

Hint: To peel ginger, place your thumb on the back of a spoon and apply downward pressure; the skin will come off easily!

Time: 30 minutes

Serves 4

SAUCE

  • 5 tablespoons water
  • 4 tablespoons smooth natural peanut butter (Organics Old-Fashioned Creamy brand is my favorite!)
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar, (or white vinegar, or lime juice)
  • 2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar (or honey)
  • dash of crushed red pepper or cayenne (optional, to add some spice)

TOFU & VEGETABLES

  • 14 ounces extra-firm tofu
  • 1 tbsp peanut oil
  • 2 cups of vegetables (any kind!)
  • 2 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tbsp chopped onion
  • fresh basil (optional garnish)

1. To prepare tofu: Drain and rinse tofu; pat dry. Cut the tofu into ½ inch cubes.

2. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over high heat. Add tofu and cook in a single layer, without stirring, until the pieces begin to turn golden brown on the bottom, about 5 minutes. Then gently stir and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until all sides are golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes more.

3. While the tofu is crisping, prepare the sauce: Whisk water, peanut butter, rice vinegar (or white vinegar), soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Taste it, to make sure it’s the way you like it.

4. When the tofu is golden brown on all sides, transfer to a separate plate.

5. Saute onions, ginger, and garlic until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add vegetables, tofu and the peanut sauce and cook, stirring, until the vegetables are just cooked, 1 to 2 minutes more. Transfer to a plate, garnish with fresh basil, and serve.

Happy Eating!

Love,

Yang

July 11, 2012

Panang Curry with Tofu, Eggplant, Potatoes, Sweet Red Bell Pepper, and Fresh Basil

I’m a fiend for curry and Thai curry is one of my favorites. There are many different Thai curries (Massaman, Panang, Red, Green, Yellow, Karee, Kaeng Kua, Khing, etc.), each with a unique flavor that stems from the different ingredients in their pastes. If I was an authentic Thai chef, I’d grind my spices in a pestle and mortar and crack a coconut and strain its milk. Let’s just say I’ve tried to make authentic curry before in just this manner and ended up with multiple bruises on my forehead and a chipped countertop. Since I’m a college a student with no time, the following recipe is one that I’ve made up over the years and is as convenient as can be without sacrificing taste. You can use any protein you want (chicken, pork, beef, seafood, duck, etc.) and any vegetables or fruits you want (sweet potatoes, pumpkin, spinach, green beans, etc).

Again, this recipe is a simple concept where you can mix and match to find your favorite combination:

Concept: curry paste + coconut milk + protein + vegetables = delicious curry.

This is a great recipe for making a huge batch and reheating the leftovers throughout the week. Curry will taste even better the next day when all of the flavors have had time to mingle. A batch of curry will last for about a week in the fridge.

If you’re watching your fat and calorie intake, you could use light coconut milk (best deal is at Trader Joe’s, $0.99/can). However, this will make your curry runnier (since light coconut milk is essentially diluted coconut milk) and, in my opinion, less delicious. You could do 1 light can, 1 full-fat can to compromise, but from my own experience, just use the unadulterated coconut milk and eat less of it. Trust me, the taste and texture of your curry will be absolutely amazing and it will be worth it.

Chao Koh is the best authentic brand of canned coconut milk for foodies and Thai home cooks alike, and is available at Safeway. The next best brand is Thai Kitchen’s Coconut Milk, which is available at Whole Foods.

I always use Maesri brand curry paste, which I get from Asian grocery stores, but Thai Kitchen curry pastes are good, too. You can find those at Safeway and Whole Foods.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serves 4-6

2 tbsp of neutral oil such as canola, peanut, safflower, or vegetable

2 13 oz cans of coconut milk

1 can (4 oz, or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste (or any curry paste)

1 medium eggplant

3 medium-sized potatoes (or 6 small potatoes)

1 14 oz box of firm or extra firm tofu (spongy tofu, tofu gan, or any form of tofu will work, but firm will hold up better in the curry)

1 red bell pepper

1 small handful of fresh basil leaves, shredded

1. Heat up a medium to large pot to medium heat.

2. Stir fry 4 oz (or 6 tbsp) of red curry paste with 2 tbsp of oil.

3. Add 1 can of coconut milk and stir to integrate the curry paste with the coconut milk. While you’re waiting for the mixture to boil, chop the tofu into small 1/2 inch chunks.

4. When the mixture boils, add the tofu and stir thoroughly.5. While the tofu is cooking, chop the eggplant and potatoes into small 1/2 inch chunks.

6. Add another can of coconut milk and add the chopped eggplant and potatoes. If the liquid doesn’t cover the newly added eggplant and potatoes, add some water, but not too much, since the eggplant and potatoes will reduce down as they cook.

7. While the eggplant and potatoes are cooking, remove the seeds from the red bell pepper and slice the pepper into strips.

8. After 20 minutes, check to see if the eggplant and potatoes are tender by sticking a fork or chopstick in it. The potatoes should not be too hard or too mushy. If they’re too hard, let them cook for 5-10 more minutes.

9. Once the potatoes are tender, add in the chopped red bell pepper. Cook for another 5 minutes, and then serve immediately over jasmine rice or by itself. Garnish with fresh basil leaves. If you like it spicy, you can also garnish with fresh red chilies.

Happy eating!

Love,

Yang

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