Weekday Vegetarian: Hunan-Style Tofu

Weekday Vegetarian: Hunan-Style TofuPhoto: Kelly Rossiter/CC BY 2.0

My mother-in-law doesn't seem to understand the concept that a vegetarian might like more for dinner than a side salad and a spoonful of vegetables. No doubt all of you vegetarian readers have been there and have your own experiences in this regard. So when there were three vegetarian guests expected for the Passover seder, I made a tofu dish for them. I used to tell her I would bring something vegetarian for my son, but she would always say, he can have the chicken soup, so now I just bring it and put it on the table.

This was the dish I made this year, and I was quite pleased with the way it turned out. It's simple enough to do that you could make it for a weeknight dinner, but tasty enough that it was fine at a dinner table with guests. I used dried thai chilies from my garden, which are quite hot, so I only used one. It's up to you how hot you like it. I also used black beans rather than black bean sauce, which gives you a slightly lighter sauce. Both are really salty, but I find it easier to control using black beans, although if you have a favourite black bean sauce, you can go with that.

This recipe is adapted from the website Use Real Butter.

Hunan-Style Tofu

1 lb extra firm tofu
Vegetable oil
3 green onions, sliced on the diagonal. Reserve some of the greens for garnish
1 - 2 thai chilis, seeded and finely sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 Tbsp fermented black beans or black bean sauce
1 cup vegetable stock
1 tsp soy sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tbsp water

1. Slice the tofu about 1/2" thick. Add enough vegetable oil to a wok or skillet to just cover the bottom. Heat until the oil is very hot and then add the tofu slices, being careful not to overlap them. Work in batches if needed. Once the tofu has turned golden brown, about 2 or 3 minutes, turn them over. When the second side is golden brown, remove the tofu from the pan and drain. Set aside.

2. Pour off any excess oil, leaving about a tablespoon. Reheat the oil, and add the green onions, chilies and garlic. Cook until fragrant, about a minute or so. Add fermented black beans or black bean sauce. Add broth, soy sauce, sesame oil and cooking wine, and bring to a boil. Meanwhile mix the cornstarch and water. Once the broth is boiling add the cornstarch while stirring. Cook over medium-low heat until the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally. Add tofu to the sauce and heat through.

Weekday Vegetarian: Hunan-Style Tofu
A recipe that works for both guests and family.

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