Wednesday, July 14, 2010

NOT a summer night dinner

The other night I went with my friend to eat at Casellula, a small plates and wine bar which serves a most delicious creation call the Pig's Ass Sandwich.  Oh holy yum.  We also shared a bottle of sparkling rose on that 100 degree day.  Perhaps it was a combination of the heat and the bubbly, but I somehow thought that walking home a mile in the heat (I just checked the distance on Google but I swear it felt like 5 miles), and then decided it was absolutely necessary to cook a meal so that we would have leftovers for lunch. Couldn't leave well enough alone, could I?

I've been on a tofu kick and decided to make pan fried tofu with Chinese black bean sauce.  I doubled the recipe, but the measurements below are for a single recipe.
  • 1-pound block of extra-firm tofu
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1-inch chunk of fresh ginger
  • 2 tablespoons Chinese fermented black beans (I didn't have this so I just used my jarred Black Bean and Garlic Sauce)
  • 11/2 cups water
  • 4 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 3 tablespoons Sherry (dry or sweet)
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 2 teaspoons cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • vegetable oil
I also added: 
  • 4 small or 2 big heads of broccoli, stalks peeled and chopped, florets chopped (for a double recipe)
Cut the tofu into fairly hefty chunks. I sliced each block lengthwise in two long pieces, and then crosswise into six pieces, for a total of 12 pieces from each block.  Since you are going to be pan-frying these, you want to get out the excess moisture.  I put layers of paper towels (I'm sorry, trees) in a pan, laid out the tofu, covered the tofu with more layers of paper towels (the Ents must hate me), place a pan on top, and weigh it down to squish out the moisture.

When you chop up your broccoli, don't forget the stems! They are my favorite part.  Just peel them and chop, along with the florets. Set aside--this will be cooked last.

It looks like I beheaded an Ent. I'm going to hell.

In a food processor (or with a knife), grind together the garlic and ginger.

In a bowl, mix together the wet ingredients and the cornstarch.  I doubted whether the cornstarch would dissolve properly in such a big vat of liquid so I took about a 1/2 cup of liquid out into a measuring cup and stirred the cornstarch into that.

I ask you, what says Chinese food more so than maple syrup and apple cider vinegar?

Hm, why am I telling you how to make this when I posted a link to the recipe?

But since I've started...this is what it looks like after you saute the garlic-ginger mixture, with the liquids and cornstarch brought to a simmer. Set aside.

Now here's the really really fun thing to do on a 100 degree night--stand over a stove and fucking fry tofu, gingerly checking and turning over without crumbling the blocks for that perfect degree of golden color, while the oil splatters all over you, constantly for about 30 minutes because you decided to double the motherf'in recipe.

After the inferno step, turn to husband and tell him how much he should appreciate you.  Put the broccoli into the pan where you had fried the tofu, and toss with some of the liquid and water.  Cover with lid or foil (my skillet doesn't have a lid) and steam for about 10 minutes, or until it gets to the consistency that you like.

Serve sauce, broccoli and tofu on top of rice.  Please note that I first thought there must have been a mistake in the recipe because of the gigantic amount of sauce that was produced.  I used it sparingly with it when preparing the lunches (example below), and had a ton leftover.  What you should really do is drown the stuff in the sauce--I think it's meant to be a very saucy dish. Saucy and sassy.  Remember it was mostly water.  Whatever--just be more generous than what you see below.

I know this picture is really appealing and makes you want to go out RIGHT NOW and buy the ingredients, yes?  Nothing is as appetizing as food in Tupperware.  I would have plated it nicely but I was still tipsy and about to fall over from heat exhaustion.



  1. I can't even imagine cooking something that requires you to stand over it when it's SO hot outside. But, I love your foil "lid." It definitely made me smile. :)

  2. Yum. That skillet lid is so good rooking.

  3. poor ent(s)! it doesn't make sense to me!

    that actually looks delicious. I will foist that upon the husband at the earliest opportunity.