Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kung Pao Tofu

Nevermind. I take back everything I said. I no longer want to make friends with my neighbors. In fact, I have a bucket-full of strong words for my neighbors. I hope they ALL stub their toes during their middle-of-the-night bathroom breaks, that they accidentally use salt instead of sugar in their baked goods, and that they sip some soured milk. A pox on my neighbors.

Why? Well, they had my car towed. I am sure they didn't all band together to do it, but SOMEONE did, and I'm chuffed about it. Tired and zoned out, I parked a spot to the left of my numbered spot. Rather than knock on my door or call me or have the leasing office call me, they called the (super-rude) towing company. I came out of my apartment to an empty spot and just stood there. (At least it happened at home - I frequently have nightmares in which my car is stolen while I'm in the grocery store or mall or something - and in my dreams, it's much scarier.) Anyway, it isn't like I'm new - we've been here 5 years and have always had the same spot. I should have looked. I just wish whoever called me in had had some common courtesy. Live and learn, I suppose.

I'm sorry for the rant. I hope I can make it up to you with this lovely version of home-made take-out. I've been really enamored lately with my issue of Eating Well Magazine (and you'll seen more from it shortly - I have some posts saved up!) I know that whatever I make from it will be healthy and delicious - and not to mention quick! I had never tried any "Chinese" food at home, and this recipe seemed like a nice starting point.

This would be another good dish to use, too, if you've wanted to break into tofu but have been squidgy about it. The tofu is flavored nicely by the five-spice powder and the oyster sauce, and since it's sauteed in the pan for a while before it is added to the veggies and sauce, it isn't the least bit squishy. I served the kung-pao over jasmine rice, but I'm sure the noodles would be terrific as well. This dish was really satisfying and I'll happily make it again. My Darling Picky Eater seemed happy with it as well, and asked that I look for a tofu-and-broccoli recipe next!

Kung Pao Tofu
c/o Eating Well Magazine, March/April 2008

You won’t be tempted to reach for another take-out menu again after trying this easy vegetarian remake of the popular Chinese classic. Serve with Chinese noodles.

Makes 4 servings, about 1 cup each

1 14-ounce package extra-firm water-packed tofu, rinsed
1/2 teaspoon five-spice powder, divided (see Shopping Tip)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons oyster-flavored or oyster sauce (see Shopping Tip)
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
12 ounces broccoli crowns, trimmed and cut into bite-size pieces (4 cups)
1 yellow bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 red bell pepper, cut into 1/2-inch dice
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 tablespoons unsalted roasted peanuts
2 teaspoons hot sesame oil (optional)

Pat tofu dry and cut into 1/2-inch cubes. Combine with 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder in a medium bowl.

Heat canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add tofu and cook, stirring every 1 to 2 minutes, until golden brown, 7 to 9 minutes total. Transfer to a plate.

Meanwhile, whisk water, oyster sauce, cornstarch and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon five-spice powder in a small bowl.

Add broccoli, yellow and red bell pepper to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until beginning to soften, about 4 minutes. Add ginger and garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Reduce heat to low, add the oyster sauce mixture and cook, stirring, until thickened, about 30 seconds. Return the tofu to the pan along with peanuts and stir to coat with sauce; stir in hot sesame oil (if using).

Per serving: 197 calories; 11 g fat (2 g sat, 4 g mono); 0 mg cholesterol; 16 g carbohydrate; 12 g protein; 5 g fiber; 622 mg sodium; 517 mg potassium.

TIP: Shopping tips: Be sure to use “oyster-flavored” sauce (it’s oyster-free) to make this vegetarian; both it and oyster sauce are found in the Asian-food section or at Asian markets. Five-spice powder is a blend of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns. Look for it in the spice section or with other Asian ingredients.

1 comment:

Arundathi said...

I'm excited to paired with you on Taste & Create! This is the first time at your blog and I love it. I've bookmarked so many recipes already - but the Kung Pao Tofu is something I've been looking for a recipe for years, and this sounds and looks perfect. Being vegetarian and being in India, using the oyster sauce might be tough - might have to go with a lame substitute like soy sauce! :(