Thursday, December 13, 2012

Vegetarian: Tofu in Sweet Garlic Sauce

The thought of two thousand people crunching celery at the same time horrified me. – George Bernard Shaw

Now come on... meat or not, doesn't this look good?

Last week we had company, a good friend who also happens to be a vegetarian. It gives me the opportunity to think up interesting vegetarian recipes. We're always glad to have her over.

Until recently I have been trying to make at least one non-meat meal per week. But for some reason I had slacked off. It was time to set things right.

Shallow frying gives a nice crust to the tofu.
I have a few requirements for any meal. First, it has to be interesting; second, it has to taste good (of course); and third, if possible it should make as few dirty dishes as possible.

A good candidate for a vegetarian recipe to fit my criteria is a wok – and tofu.

Tofu probably doesn’t spring to may people’s minds as either interesting or flavourful. But it can be. Tofu takes on the flavours of whatever it is cooked with. This recipe uses garlic. Lots and lots of it.

The sauce is very nice with a combination of sweet, chillies and garlic. It’s quite easy to do as well. The only “trouble” is in browning the tofu pieces.

I always brown my tofu before including it in stir frys. Coating with cornstarch before shallow frying adds a crunch to each piece that adds even more interest to the overall result.

Don’t worry about the tablespoon of dried chillies. Korean dried chillies are not as hot as North American ones. If you don’t use the full amount you will wish you did. 

You can get them cheaply at Asian grocery stores. I bought mine at the Coa Hoa on Queen Street.

Since we were all in the kitchen talking as I cooked, I took far longer overall to make this than it really takes. Gab, cook, gab, cook... But it can be done in the time below.

The dinner was a hit with our friend as well as us, and the three of us ate more than we should have, as usual.

If you’re looking for a recipe to stretch your tofu “wings” give this one a try. A one pound block of tofu costs about $3.00. For protein in a meal that’s extremely inexpensive.

Of course, if you must, you could substitute pork, beef or chicken. Shrimp would be overwhelmed.

But give the tofu a try.

Fast, easy, cheap, spicy, sweet, garlicky...
What more can a person ask.
Tofu in Sweet Garlic Sauce
Prep: 15 min  |  Cook: 20 min  |  Serves 4
3 tbsp oil
1 lb extra firm tofu, cubed
1/4 cup cornstarch
salt and pepper
1 tbsp dried Korean chilli peppers, diced
1 onion, diced
1 lg carrot, cut in matchsticks
8 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp fresh ginger, chopped
4 cups bok choy, chopped
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup vegetable stock

Cut the tofu into bite sized pieces. Mix the cornstarch, salt and pepper in a plastic bag. Shake the tofu pieces in the cornstarch to coat. Shake off any excess cornstarch and reserve. Measure and top up to 2 tbsp total.

Heat the oil in a wok. Fry the tofu in three batches until golden. Set aside. Prepare the vegetables while the tofu browns.

Add the chilli flakes, onion, carrot, ginger and garlic. Sauté for a few minutes to soften. Add the bok choy and cook for 3 minutes more.

Mix the soy, sugar and stock together in a bowl. Pour into the wok and bring to a boil. Add the reserved cornstarch and cook until the sauce thickens. 

Serve with jasmine rice.


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