Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Kung Pao Tofu with Broccoli and Peanuts

The Hamilton Spectator ran this recipe on Sept. 27th and I prepared it to take to my niece's Thanksgiving family dinner. The ingredient list might look rather daunting but this dish went together fairly quickly and was quite tasty. In hindsight probably not the best choice to take out (i.e. potluck), as it should be taken from stove top to table immediately. In any case, I was happy with the result and will definitely make this again.

Ingredient List

  • 1 lb (450 g) extra-firm tofu, cut into 1/2 inch slabs
  • 2 tbsp (30ml) scallion, white part only, plus 2/3 cup scallion greens, cut into 1-in (2.5cm) lengths
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (22ml) minced garlic
  • 1 1/2 tbsp (22ml) minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp (2ml) hot chilli paste
  • 1 c (250ml) sliced water chestnuts
  • 2/3 c (160ml) chicken broth (vegetarian brand)
  • 2 tsp (10ml) low-sodium soy sauce
  • 2 1/2 tbsp (37ml) rice wine or dry sherry (I used rice vinegar)
  • 2 tsp (10ml) sugar
  • 3/4 tsp (3ml) toasted sesame oil
  • 2 tsp (10ml) Chinese black vinegar or Worcestshire (I used Bragg's Liquid Amino)
  • 3/4 tsp (3ml) cornstarch
  • 3/4 lb (340g) broccoli, ends trimmed, stalks peeled
  • 1/4 c (60ml) canola or corn oil
  • 3/4 c (180ml) dry-roasted peanuts
  1. Press as much moisture out of tofu block as possible (wrap tofu in paper or cloth towel and place weight on top like a cast iron pan). While tofu is pressing, prepare the seasonings and sauce.
  2. In small bowl - mix the minced scallions, garlic, ginger and chili paste. In another bowl - place the scallion greens and water chestnuts. Set both aside. In medium bow - mix the broth, soy sauce, rice wine or vinegar, sugar, toasted sesame oil, black vinegar and cornstarch. Set aside. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Cut the broccoli into bite-size pieces, cutting the stalks into 1-inch slices, on the diagonal. Boil the broccoli for 3 minutes. Drain in a colander under cold running water and place in medium bowl. Set aside.
  3. Slice the tofu into pieces about 1/2 inch (1.3cm) thick and 2 1/2 inches (6.3cm) long. Using heavy skillet, heat 1 1/2 tbsp oil on high. Place half the tofu in the pan and sear for 3-4 minutes each side until golden brown. Remove and drain. Add another 1 1/2 tbsp oil to pan and repeat with remaining tofu slices. Remove final slices and drain.
  4. Add remaining tbsp of oil to pan. Add scallion-ginger mixture and stir-fry for 15 seconds. Add scallion greens and water chestnuts and cook, stirring about 1 1/2 minutes. Add broth mixture and stir until it thickens (about 1 minute). Add the broccoli, tofu and peanuts. Toss lightly. Serve hot.
Some tips - use a really large skillet for this if you are using a couple of stalks of broccoli as I did (probably more than the recipe suggested). Also, when frying at high heat, this combo really spits - make sure you are wearing an apron and stand at arms length away from the stove!

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Anonymous said...

Well, what do you do when the recipe sounds great, but you don't have everything in your kitchen to make it? You make Kung Pao Tofu with brussel sprouts, sans water chestnuts, but adding daikon radish for the crunch. Surely, not what the Chinese had in mind, but delicious nonetheless.

Compassionate Consumption said...

What a great suggestion re substituting an ingredient but keeping the texture (in this case, the "crunch") intact. I've been cooking for many years but I'm still learning new tricks - thank you for yours! Really, I should put a laminated list up on my cupboard..."remember to balance the salt, sour, sweet and bitter; what kind of texture do I want?" etc. etc.
The best cooks I know just look at what ingredients they have on hand and go for it. This is what I am aiming for to!!