Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tofu-veggie stir fry

Having lived solo in a 22’ foot travel trailed with a freezer the size of a show box, most of my recipes ended to be in the “serves ONE” scale. Amazingly, the food selection at the Rawlins City Market grocery store was quite good. Between the regular grocery store there and the Asian grocery store, the shopping there was better than here in Pocatello.

I’ve been experimenting on how to make tofu palatable. According to Cheryl and Jenny, I nailed it on m last experimental tofu-veggie stir fry and I promised Cheryl I’d post the recipe, not that there was one. In actuality, I prepared the stir fry one night and it was somewhat bland. The second night, when Cheryl was here, I had doctored the recipe and got something right.
This is as close as I can get to what actually worked :)

This seriously isn’t a final recipe. Even though I go rave reviews from 2 people, I know can do better. This will evolve.

Tofu-veggie stir-fry

2 T oil
2 garlic cloves peeled and cut in half
2 ¼” thick sliced fresh ginger root peeled
2-3 small dried red chili peppers

½ lb FIRM tofu (pressed, drained, frozen and thawed…see note)
2 T dark soy sauce
1 T rice wine vinegar
1 T Shaoxing wine (or dry sherry)
1 t grated fresh ginger root
1 garlic clove chopped fine
1 green onion chopped fine

1 can sliced water chestnuts
3-4 baby bok-choy (stems sliced, leaves mostly whole)
1 cup chopped fresh broccoli
½ sliced zucchini (or other summer squash)
1 cup fresh bean sprouts
½ chopped bell pepper (whatever color you like)
1 jalapeƱo seeded and sliced
3 green onions chopped into ½” lengths

2 T dark soy sauce
1 T oyster sauce
1 t hot sauce (I prefer Sriracha sauce-the Thai one with the rooster on the label)

You get tofu in 1 lb blocks. Before I figured this out, I would buy tofu, use as much as I could stand and throw out about half of it when it tuned grey-green in the fried. So… assuming a single serving is about ¼ lb, slice up the tofu into eighths so that each slice is about ¼” thick. You can slice it into fourths if you like great gobs of tofu¬--I don’t. Press out all the water from the slices by placing them between paper towels, cutting boards weighted down with something heavy like a cast iron skillet. Change the paper towels a couple times till either satisfied the water is pressed out or you’re tired of changing and wasting paper towels. Separate the tofu into ¼ lb sections, assuming that’s a portion size, wrap the ¼ lb slabs in plastic wrap, stuff the wrapped sections in a freezer bag and freeze until needed.

Freezing the tofu has, for me, a couple purposes: 1) I don’t waste the tofu by letting it go rancid and turn various shades of grey-green and 2) interesting and cool things happen to the texture. When you need the tofu, take it out of the freezer and let it thaw out in whatever amounts needed.

So, we have tofu, maybe frozen-thawed or maybe not. Cut the tofu into bite sizes pieces. Toss tofu into container or a bag with dark soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, Shaoxing wine, grated fresh ginger root, chopped garlic clove, and chopped green onion chopped. Let marinate for at least an hour.

Heat the oil in a large cast iron pan on the stove or a wok. Toss in the sliced garlic cloves, sliced ginger root, and red pepper. This seasons the oil. I learned this watching “Yan Can Cook” on PBS years ago. Toss the ginger and garlic until they begin to brown but not burn. Burned garlic in the oil is nasty.

Drain the tofu reserving the marinade. Remove and discard the sliced garlic and ginger from the oil. I prefer to leave in the red peppers. Remove the tofu from the marinade reserving the marinade. Toss tofu into the hot oil and stir fry for 60-90 seconds. Remove tofu from oil. Stir fry vegetables in oil for 1-2 minutes. Return tofu to oil and add soy sauce, oyster sauce, and hot sauce. If a softer vegetable consistency is desired, reduce heat, place top on pan/wok/whatever and let steam for 1 minute.

Serve over rice or noodles.