Winter Vegetable & Pressed Beancurd Stirfry

Truly deep into the winter vegetables in Michigan now – if we want to buy local, we’re down to roots and a lot of the cabbage family. Luckily we like those veggies, but we do think often of the farmers’ market in Torrance these days…. This recipe is great for using up broccoli stems, although I often see only broccoli crowns available. We often eat steamed broccoli, both stems and tops, but we like to reserve a few stems for just such a dish, making the food dollar stretch a little further.

I try to cook with mostly whole, local, close to the source ingredients, but once in a while we will buy some bamboo shoots, and they are a great addition to this dish. If you live near an Asian market (or your regular grocery is into Asian ingredients) you should be able to find vacuum-packed bamboo, either the whole shoots or slices or shreds – any of those are infinitely preferable to the canned varieties.

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 – our favorite 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 – as with the Christmas Stirfry, the bbq type might be interesting here – but you may want to reduce or eliminate the soy sauce in that case.

Leftovers? Chopped finely into “confetti”, this stirfry is excellent mixed into Fried Rice.

ingredients:

  • 3 squares pressed five-spice beancurd or baked five-spice tofu (other flavors can be substituted)
  • 1 large carrot, cut into 1/8 x 1/8 x 1.5″ strips
  • 1 large broccoli stem, peeled and cut into 1/8 x 1/8 x 1.5″ strips
  • 2 oz bamboo shoot, cut into 1/8 x 1/8 x 1.5″ strips
  • 1 T oil
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or more to taste

method:

  1. Slice the beancurd 1/8″ thick, then cut the slices into shreds approximately 1.5″ long.
  2. Heat the oil in the wok just  until it shimmers.
  3. Add the carrot, broccoli stem, and bamboo shoot strips and stirfry gently until the vegetable just wilts but is still bright green.
  4. Add the tofu and stirfry to heat through.
  5. Add the soy sauce, stir to combine and heat thoroughly, adjust seasoning, then slide onto the serving plate.
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