Saturday, February 17, 2007

More Fun With Tofu

After my first experiment with tofu, I decided that the second pound deserved the courtesy of a great recipe. I immediately reached for the James Beard award winning cookbook, "A Spoonful of Ginger: Irresistible, health-giving recipes from Asian kitchens" by Nina Simonds. Every recipe is carefully explained and fool proof.

As the cookbook states, "This hearty and delicious entree incorporates the best of Sichuan cooking: The spicy sauce plays off the contrasting textures of the tofu, crisp peanuts and crunchy broccoli."

"Tofu stir-fried with vinegar is a traditional folk remedy for malaria and dysentery. Peanuts are believed to improve the appetite and lubricate the lungs. An age old remedy for hypertention is ground peanut shells that is steeped in water to make a tea that is drunk three times a day for at least 20 days."

Vegetarian Kung Pao with Broccoli and Peanuts

1 1/2 lbs. firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch slabs
1 pound broccoli, ends trimmed and stalks peeled
5 1/2 tbs. canola or corn oil

3 tbs minced scallions, white part only
2 tbs minced garlic
3 tbs minced fresh ginger
1 teaspoon hot chile paste
1 cup 1 inch lengths scallion greens (about 5 scallions)
1 1/2 cups thinly sliced water chestnuts, blanched 10 seconds in boiling water, then refreshed in cold water and drained

Sauce (mix together)
1 cup Classic Chicken Broth (canned or boxed is an ok substitute)
1 tbs. soy sauce
3 1/2 tbs. rice wine or sake (cooking sherry works in a pinch)
2 tbs. sugar
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
1 tbs Chinese black vinegar or Worcestershire Sauce
1 1/4 tbs corn starch

1. Wrap the tofu slabs in paper towels or a cotton towel, and place a heavy weight, such as a cast iron skillet, on top. Let stand for 30 minutes to press out the excess water/ Cut the tofu into slices about 1/2 inch thick and 2 1/2 inches long. Place them in a bowl.

2. Cut away the broccoli florets and separate into bite-sized pieces. Cut the stalks on the diagonal into 1 inch pieces. Heat a large pot of water until boiling. Add the broccoli and boil for 3 minutes. Drain, refresh under cold water, and drain again.

3. Heat a large, heavy skillet and add 2 1/2 tbs of the oil. Arrange some of the tofu slices in the pan and sear over high heat for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Remove with a spatula and drain in a colander. Reheat the pan and add 2 more tablespoons of oil. Continue frying the rest of the slices. Remove and drain.

4. Reheat the skillet or a wok, add the remaining tablespoon of oil, heat until hot and add the Seasonings. Stir fry briefly, about 15 seconds, then add the scallion greens and water chestnuts, and stir fry over high heat about 1 1/2 minutes. Add the premixed sauce, and cook, stirring continuously to prevent lumps, until it thickens. Add the broccoli, fried tofu, and peanuts. Toss lightly to coat and heat through. Scoop the dish onto a serving platter. Serve with steamed rice.
“Glass City Gourmet” is a chronicle of one woman's attempt to cook, eat, diet and entertain with both flair and whimsy while based in Toledo, Ohio. I encourage you to read on as the "Glass City Gourmet" attempts grand recipes, samples locally owned restaurants, visits indigenous markets and humbly pursues her quest to be formally recognized as the official "Glass City Gourmet".


  1. This tofu recipe looks great. Ilove ginger, it's really good to warm you up when you are chilled. My wife puts ginger root in hot water and drinks it every day.
    If you are interested, I posted a recipe for the classic Poule au Pot d'Henry IV on thebrainpolice yesterday. Also in the February archives, there is an article on Laguiole Cheese and how to make an aligote!
    I am going to do a post on brioche.
    I have made three batches of brioche dough in the last few weeks and each one is getting better. There are some real tricky details, but I haven't had any disasters.
    I will photograph each step...
    It's an overnight thing.....

  2. did you know nina simonds married a toledo guy who owned a record store? she also taught chinese cooking for ut's continuing ed dept. she lived briefly in akron and my mother-in-law was a pupil in her classes there. i think she is in the boston area now.