One of my favorite cookbook authors is Jeffrey Alford.
His big picture looks at food and its significance for cultures and peoples are a pleasure to read. And his wife, Naomi Duguid’s, wonderful pictures just add to the pleasure of reading their books.
One of the dishes from their “Seductions of Rice” book, which we come back to again and again is a version of their “Spicy Simmered Tofu”.
It’s a fun recipe, that lends itself to improvisation. Most recently, we had some romano beans to add; but, use whatever you have on hand. Broccoli, bitter greens, green beans, etc. Just chop it into bite size pieces.
I’ve even served this to people who claim to hate tofu. They were converted. So I’ll hear none of that sort of “tofu is boring” sort of whinging.
While their version includes ground pork, most often we leave that out in favor of a fuller palate of vegetables.
Spicy Simmered Tofu, underhill-lounge stylee
About 1 pound firm tofu in 1/2 inch squares
3 scallions, sliced thin
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon minced ginger
6 brown mushrooms sliced
1/4 pound Romano Beans, sliced
Handful Spinach, roughly chopped
1 to 2 tablespoons Hot Chile Bean Paste
6 Tablespoons Soy Sauce
2 Tablespoons Shaoxing Rice Wine
1 Cup Chicken Stock (or veggie stock, if you’re a vegetarian)
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch, dissolved in 1 tablespoon cold water
2 Tablespoons chopped cilantro
Heat wok or saute pan over highest heat. Add the oil, and when it is hot, add mushrooms. Cook until they give up their water and start to brown nicely. Reserve.
Reheat work or saute pan, add a little more oil, and saute beans until lightly browned. Reserve.
Heat wok or saute pan again, add oil and when hot, add in ginger, garlic, and scallions. Cook until fragrant. Add tofu, and toss with minced seasonings. Add Soy Sauce, Rice Wine, chile bean paste, and Chicken stock. Bring to a simmer, and add reserved vegetables. Heat until simmering, and then lower heat and stir in dissolved corn starch. It will thicken quickly. Turn off heat, stir in spinach. Continue stirring until spinach is wilted, and serve over steamed rice. Sprinkle on chopped cilantro.