Friday, September 21, 2007

Mmm... Tofu.... September 16, 2007

I wasn’t sure what to cook for dinner on Sunday. We had leftover slices of roast pork and some soft tofu, so I made a quick stir-fry. You’ll often see this type of dish served in an earthenware pot at a Chinese restaurant. I don’t even know what it’s called, or how to order it. Check the “Tofu” section of a menu and look for a stewed tofu or something. I’ll have to ask my dad.

I’m not sure of the exact measurements, so here’s an approximation.

2 tsp vegetable oil (not olive oil)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tbsp ginger, cut into thin trapezoids (it’s hard to describe)
¼ cup roast pork, chopped into bite-sized pieces
2 tsp soy sauce
¼ cup cooked shrimp
¼ cup frozen peas, thawed
1 package soft tofu, cut into small cubes (but not too small, or else they’ll break apart while cooking)
4 tbsp oyster sauce (approx.)
1 tbsp cornstarch
3 tbsp cold water
1 stalk green onion, chopped diagonally
Salt to taste

1. Heat pan on high until hot.
2. Add oil.
3. Turn down heat to medium.
4. Add garlic and ginger. Make sure they don’t burn.
5. Once the garlic and ginger becomes fragrant, toss in the roast pork.
6. Add soy sauce.
7. Stir-fry until the pork has browned.
8. Add shrimp, peas, and tofu. Turn down heat to medium-low. Don’t stir the tofu too much at this point. It’ll break apart easily.
9. Add oyster sauce.
10. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and water thoroughly. Add to pan. Gently stir the pan.
11. Toss in chopped green onions.
12. Sprinkle with salt, and check the taste.
13. If you want more of the sauce, add more oyster sauce, cornstarch and water accordingly. It’ll taste “right” with some adjustments.
14. Simmer on low heat for 5 minutes.

I definitely don’t measure my ingredients, by the way. I just toss them all in and try to adjust the taste as I go along. Oh well. The recipe listed above is a mere guideline.

While I was cooking, I actually ended up with far more sauce than I had intended. I was trying to clean out the last bit of the oyster sauce, so I added some water. Needless to say, it was a soupy mess, until I finally put enough cornstarch.

It was really good, though the tofu hadn’t quite absorbed the flavours. We had the leftovers last night, and the dish definitely improved with time. It had enough time to sponge up the ginger flavour. Sweet peas and shrimp combined with salty tofu and pork... yummy.

We also had some tofu soup on the side. This one is super simple to make.

4 cups chicken stock
1 package soft tofu, cubed
1 green onion, minced
Salt to taste
Black pepper (optional)

1. Heat the chicken stock to a rolling boil on high.
2. Add tofu.
3. Boil on high for 5 minutes. This allows the flavour to penetrate the tofu.
4. Turn down heat to medium-low.
5. Add half of the green onions.
6. Simmer for 10 minutes.
7. Use the rest of the green onions to garnish your bowl.
8. Serve with black pepper on the side.

The great thing about this soup is its simplicity. When Jimmy and I don’t have any chicken stock lying around, we use water and powdered chicken stock. It turns out the same. Also, you can add things like meatballs, or dumplings, or wontons, or shrimp, or scallops, or whatever! It’s quite forgiving.


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