Thursday, April 26, 2012

Sichuan Tofu and Broccoli Rabe with Garlic Sauce

I've been neglecting tofu lately, I have to admit. But these beautiful batches of broccoli rabe- budding with tiny yellow flowers- caught my eye at the farmers market, and as I equate a successful broccoli rabe dish with serious garlic, Sichuan Tofu and Broccoli Rabe with Garlic Sauce was born. 
I normally leave cooking with Asian sauces to the pros, but keep rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil, and garlic chili paste in my fridge for an easy go-to stir fry marinade. This recipe incorporates all of these ingredients, but came out as SO much more. The sauce was thick and decadent, the perfect mixture of sweet and spicy while minimal oil kept it true to its healthy source, Fat Free Vegan.
So what made this recipe so special that I kept ogling at my bowl in disbelief that it wasn't take-out from my favorite Chinese restaurant? Dry sherry and vegetable broth contribute a rich depth to the marinade, while chili garlic paste and a generous portion of fresh ginger deliver some serious spice. Finally, cornstarch thickens the sauce into an almost caramelized consistency, which simmers the flavors to blend perfectly.  Since the tofu marinates in its own sauce while you prepare the other ingredients,the sauce is soaked up seamlessly. No more bland oops-I-forgot-to-marinade-in-advance tofu here; which I suspect was the reason for my recent distance to the ingredient.
I basically stuck to the original recipe, but have a few things to note: I would half the garlic next time, as the combination of garlic cloves and chili garlic paste were enough to keep all the vampires in the world running for the hills. (However I am also aware that this recipe is titled garlic sauce, so maybe I just have a weak garlic tolerance.) Second, I would nix the agave nectar or sugar, as the sweet wine was ample for the dish. Lastly, I doubled the sauce per the Susan's suggestion, but despite mixing it with a generous portion of rice and extra veggies found the increased quantity a bit overpowering.
The original recipe is made with water chestnuts, which I think would be spectacular in both taste and texture- I just didn't have any. Always a fan of adding extra veggies when possible, feel free to make your tofu with broccoli, carrots, mushrooms, and/or bok choy as well.

Sichuan Tofu and Broccoli Rabe with Garlic Sauce (from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen)
Serves 4

1 pound firm or extra-firm tofu*
1/4 cup warm vegetable broth 
1 tbsp. Shao Hsing wine, or dry sherry
1 tablespoon reduced-sodium soy sauce 
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (up to one tablespoon) 
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons black rice vinegar (use regular rice vinegar if you don't have) 
2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce 
1 tablespoon Shao Hsing wine, or dry sherry 
2 tablespoons agave nectar or sugar (optional) 
1 teaspoon chili garlic paste (up to 2 teaspoons) 
1/4 teaspoon sesame oil 
6 large cloves garlic, minced (up to 1 head) (I suggest using 3) 
2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger 
1 bunch green onions
8 fresh water chestnuts (optional) 
2 tsp. cornstarch dissolved into 2 tsp. water
1 bunch broccoli rabe
Optional: honey-roasted peanuts for garnish; brown rice, additional veggies

*To prepare tofu, wrap tofu block in a two layers of paper towel and microwave for one minute. This will dry up excess liquid, allowing your marinate to permeate the block and soak up more flavor.

  1. Cut the tofu widthwise into 1/2-inch slices. Then cut each slice widthwise into 1/2-inch by 1 1/2-inch sticks. Put the pieces in a ziplock bag and add the vegetable broth, 1 tbsp. wine, and 1 tbsp. soy sauce. Let it marinate, turning the bag every few minutes, while you prepare the vegetables and sauce.
  2. In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix together the vinegars, 2 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tbsp. wine, agave nectar or sugar (optional), chili garlic paste, and sesame oil. Set aside.
  3. Peel and slice the water chestnuts and cut each slice into shreds, about three pieces per slice. Slice the green onions thinly, separating the dark green tops from the light green and white parts.
  4. Spray a large non-stick skillet with oil, and heat it over medium-high heat. Add the light-colored scallion slices, the garlic, ginger, and broccoli rabe (plus additional optional veggies) and stir-fry for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the skillet and set aside.
  5. Spray the skillet again, and add the tofu and its marinade to the pan, making sure the tofu is in a single layer. When the marinade has evaporated, carefully turn the tofu (which should be light brown on the bottom) and cook the other side until brown. Add the green onion mixture/broccoli rabe back to the pan and cook, stirring for another minute.
  6. Add the water chestnuts and sauce and bring to a boil. Add cornstarch and water and simmer until thickened and glossy. Remove from heat and garnish with green onion tops.

1 comment:

  1. Hi there, this is a nice post. It would be great if you linked to it in my Food on Friday series. Food on Friday – Asian Food


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