My husband made this for dinner yesterday, and it was strikingly pretty (as well as tasty!), in the perfect seasonal colors.
Garlic chives, jiucai in Mandarin, are available in Asian markets and at farmers’ markets that have vendors of Asian produce. The look like a long, flattened version of our chives. When fully grown they are not hollow at the center and sometimes have buds at the tips. If you can’t find them, you can substitute the more commonly found chives (reduce the cooking time) or scallions cut into thin 2″ long strips. The flavor won’t be identical, but it will be tasty all the same.
Pressed beancurd, called doufu gan (sort of translates into “tofu jerky!”) is literally tofu that has been pressed to squeeze out excess moisture. The result is a firmer texture that some people compare to meat, although the flavor is of course different. Pressed tofu comes in a variety of flavors – the most common one for this dish is five-spice, which has a dark, slightly smoky exterior and an off-white center. You can easily substitute baked tofu, now readily available in most conventional markets, for this ingredient. Since much of the flavor in this dish comes from the beancurd, you can play around with the various flavors available – bbq might be interesting here – but you may want to reduce or eliminate the soy sauce in that case.
Leftovers? This stirfry is excellent mixed into Fried Rice.
- 3 squares pressed five-spice beancurd or baked five-spice tofu (other flavors can be substituted)
- 4 oz garlic chives (or use 2 oz chives or 4 scallions as mentioned above)
- 1/2 red bell pepper, cut into 1/4 x 1.5″ strips
- 1 T oil
- 1 tsp light soy sauce
- 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste
- Slice the beancurd 1/8″ thick, then cut the slices into shreds approximately 1.5″ long.
- Wash the chives well and cut into 1.5″ lengths – you can keep the buds intact if there are any.
- Heat the oil in the wok just until it shimmers.
- Add the tofu and stirfry to coat with the oil and heat through.
- Add the chives and red pepper strips and stirfry gently until the vegetable just wilts but is still bright green.
- Add the soy sauce, stir to combine and heat thoroughly, adjust seasoning, then slide onto the serving plate.