Red-Cooked Beancurd

This is a mild, flavorful dish that is simple to make and, like the Spicy Beancurd can be made vegetarian as I have chosen to do for the recipe below. Again, you can use the variation to add meat to it if you choose. A really quick recipe and a great favorite with kids either way.

ingredients:

  • 12 oz tofu: We prefer Mori-nu silken firm style, but as long as you stick to the firm varieties, you can use your favorite brand.
  • 1 T oil
  • 8 shiitake mushrooms, stems removed (save them for a stock or broth!) and caps cut into quarters
  • 1/4 c fresh or thawed frozen green peas (you could substitute other blanched frozen mixed veggies, edamame, …)
  • 1/2 c canned bamboo slices, rinsed and drained (optional)

sauce:

  • 2 T light soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4-1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 c water or broth

thickener:

  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 T water
  • 1 T dark soy sauce

garnish

  • 1 scallion, minced

method:

  1. Cut the tofu into 1″ squares about 1/4″ thick and slide into a bowl of salted water (1 T salt to 2 c water) for at least 10 m: this will keep it from falling apart when you cook it.
  2. Combine the sauce ingredients in one bowl, the thickener ingredients in another.
  3. Heat the wok on high, add the oil and heat until it shimmers.
  4. Add the mushrooms, peas, and bamboo shoots, and stirfry over medium heat until the peas are cooked through, about 1-1.5 m, then remove to a plate. (You can leave them in the wok and continue, but your peas will lose their vibrant green color.)
  5. Add the sauce ingredients to the wok, and bring to a boil over high heat.
  6. Slide the tofu in, gently turn it from the bottom to coat with sauce.
  7. Return to a boil, then immediately reduce to a simmer, cover and cook for 2 m.
  8. Add the thickener and stir gently until the sauce thickens. Keeping the heat very low, allow to simmer for 1-2 m more to cook out the starchy taste.
  9. Slide gently into a serving bowl, garnish with scallion, and serve immediately.

variation:

This is traditionally not a vegetarian dish. If you prefer it with meat, use 1/4 lb ground beef or pork, about 1/2 c. (I recommend pastured meat – the flavor is infinitely superior! See Local Harvest for a provider near you.) After step 4, heat 1 T oil in the wok, add the meat and stirfry just until it loses its pinkness. If you have a lot of fat, pour it off until you have approximately 1 T left in the wok with the meat. Continue from step 5 as above.

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