Tuesday, March 05, 2013

in the kitchen with sillymortalmama: TOFU & PEPPERS!

okay i LOVE this dish. my family LOVES it. anyone who has ever had it LOVES IT. even people who do not love tofu LOVE it.

i know what you're thinking: tofu. hooray. well knock that off and prepare to be DELIGHTED. because in just a minute i will tell you HOW to do that tofu so it's not so 'tofu-y.'  this is a great dish for a regular weekday dinner or entertaining. you can serve it as is or over rice or soba noodles or whatever you prefer. it tastes great the next day (though there are rarely leftovers) and can be cut in half or doubled or...

and when you see all the jalapenos DO NOT FEAR. not all jalapenos are spicy. or hot. i swear. some jalapenos have about as much spice as a post surgery liquid diet. regarless of heat they still have flavor, though. what you need to do is get a mess of jalapenos for the recipe and taste them. are they too spicy for you? then dial back and sub in some poblano/pasilla peppers (sub in half as many though as they are bigger than jalapenos). or use less of the jalapenos and more of the red bell pepper. or, are your peppers not spicy enough? then do the full order of jalapenos and add in a serrano.

regardless of heat i generally sub in some poblanos/pasillas because i like the two different shades of green in the dish AND i like the differing pepper flavors. just do a little pepper recon before and you'll be fine. trust me.

whatever you do PLEASE use at least SOME jalapenos. they really are terrific and make the dish.

okay. the tofu. after you cut your tofu put it in a bowl. pour boiling salted water over it and let sit 15 minutes. drain and pat dry. proceed with recipe. TRUST ME. this will render you tofu that is ready to be devoured. 

whatever you do PLEASE use extra-firm tofu. if you do not have extra-firm tofu GET SOME. if you think to yourself, ah well it's all the same and try some other kind of tofu THEN DO ME A FAVOR AND DON'T TELL ANYONE YOU GOT THE RECIPE FROM ME.

this recipe comes from the website herbivoracious and the book of the same name by Michael Natkin. i've adapted it here. adjust to your own servings and tastes accordingly.

Tofu and Peppers
by Michael Natkin (adapted by x.)
Vegetarian, vegan, gluten free and kosher
Serves 4
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup tamari (gluten-free if needed) or other soy sauce
  • 4 teaspoons sugar
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 1 pound extra-firm tofu cut into 1/2″ cubes
  • 8 jalapeno peppers (or 4 jalapenos and 2 poblanos/pasillas or 2 and 4 or...)
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 8 scallions, trimmed and cut into 1″ lengths
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil

*Cut the tofu and put it into a heat proof bowl. Pour boiling salted water over to cover and let soak for 15 minutes.

*Put the cornstarch in a small bowl.  Drizzle in the tamari (I use soy sauce) while whisking until all lumps are gone. Whisk in the sugar, garlic and sesame oil. Taste and adjust the seasoning of the sauce.

*Lay the tofu out in a single layer on a clean, absorbent towel and pat dry. 

*Preferably wearing disposable gloves, cut the top off of each jalapeno pepper and cut in half lengthwise. Use a teaspoon to remove the seeds and ribs. Cut each half pepper crosswise. (If using other peppers cut into the same size as the jalapenos.) Remove the stem, seeds and rib from the bell pepper and cut into pieces about the same size as the quartered jalapeno.

*Heat the oil in a large cast iron skillet or wok over high heat. Pat the tofu dry one more time and fry in a single layer, tossing occasionally until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove the tofu to a plate and leave the skillet on. (I usually need to do the tofu in batches so I don't crowd the pan and the sides cook evenly.)

*Add the jalapeno/peppers, bell pepper and scallion and stir fry over high heat until the colors brighten, about 1 minute. Add the tofu back in, then add the sauce. Quickly stir and fry just long enough to reheat the tofu and cook the cornstarch sauce, about 30 seconds. 

*Transfer to a serving bowl or platter and serve immediately.

Serve with rice or soba noodles or as is.



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