Once again, I reached for Nina Simonds' James Beard Award winning cookbook, A Spoonful of Ginger:Irresistible, Health-Giving Recipes From Asian Kitchens. After comparing a few recipes to the contents of my pantry and fridge, I decided on "Braised Cinnamon Tofu". I didn't have any anise seed so I substituted fennel seed and it worked well. I also realized that this would end up being a soup, so I decided to make brown rice to create a more hearty meal.
The broth has a wonderful scent that will fill your kitchen. It is an interesting combination of flavors and braising the tofu for a full hour infuses the tofu with flavor. The best part about braising tofu is that you don't have to do that whole bit with the towels and the cast iron skillet to drain the water out of the tofu. You can eliminate that step because of the way this is cooked.
Braised Cinnamon Tofu with Brown Rice
1 tsp. safflower or corn oil
6 whole scallions, ends trimmed, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife and cut into 1 1/2 in. sections
6 garlic cloves, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife and sliced thinly
4 slices fresh ginger, about the size of a quarter, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife
1 tsp. hot Chile paste
2 sticks cinnamon
1 tsp anise seed (fennel seed works just fine)
1/2 c. soy sauce (I prefer the reduced sodium kind)
6 cups water
2 lbs firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
1 lb. spinach, stems trimmed, rinsed, and drained
3 tbs. minced scallion greens
1 cup brown rice (rinsed)
2 1/4 c. chicken stock
Heat a large pot or casserole over medium-high heat, add the oil, heat until hot, about 30 seconds, and add the Seasonings. Stir fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds, then add the soy sauce and water. Heat until boiling, add the tofu, and boil again.
Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, skimming the surface to remove impurities and fat. Cook for 1 hour, until the tofu is drenched and with the flavors of the braising mixture. Remove the ginger slices and cinnamon sticks and discard.
While the tofu was simmering, I brought 2 1/4 cups of chicken stock to boil in another saucepan and added a cup of long grain brown rice. I put a lid on the rice and turned the heat down to low to simmer the rice while the tofu cooked.
Add the spinach, clump by clump to the tofu and heat until boiling. Put a half cup of brown rice in the bottom of a soup bowl. Ladle the tofu mixture over the rice, and sprinkle scallion greens on top to serve.
“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".