Monday, April 20, 2009

Good peasant food

Dr Coyote's mock Ma-Po Tofu.

Was reminded of this by an article on a China Ex-pat blog I've been following since last spring's tour. Hadn't had Ma-Po Tofu in years--since Bloomington, anyway, but it certainly is dead-easy, and thus maintains my highest priority for a recipe: that I don't have to follow it, but can more-or-less make it up out of my head.

Start a pot of brown rice. Once at a boil, reduce to low simmer, cover tightly, and leave it alone, for at least 30 minutes.

Meantime, dice 1 block extra-firm tofu into 1/2-inch cubes. Fry over high-heat in 2-3 tablespoons of vegetable oil (olive oil will burn over high heat) with a splash of toasted sesame oil added. Continue until brown and crisped on the outside. About mid-way through the frying process, add a good splash of tamari--but have a cover handy, as at this temperature the tamari will sizzle and splash. Scrape the pan occasionally with a spatula to keep the tofu from burning onto the bottom. You can also add sliced celery, bamboo shoots, asparagus, pepper, or other crunchy soft vegetable.

Whisk together in a mixing bowl some combination of the following: 2 tablespoons tamari, 3 tbs of white wine, 2 tbs white or cider vinegar, at least 1 tbs brown sugar, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp ginger, a good dose of chili powder, and at least 1 rounded tablespoon of cornstarch. You'll have to whisk hard to get and keep the cornstarch in solution.

Add the liquid to the tofu, stir well, and reduce heat to a simmer. Leave the lid cracked so the liquid can reduce. When cooked down to a thickened gravy texture, you're ready to serve the tofu over the rice. Garnish with ground almonds or peanuts.

Low trans-fats, relatively low-cal, relatively well-balanced (though you may experience a craving for dairy and/or sweets afterward), cheap as hell.

Good peasant food.

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