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Stir-Fried Tofu with Broccoli

Now that I’ve moved to the diverse metropolis that is Houston, I have access to a bounty of international restaurants and grocery stores, including of course Houston’s amazing Chinatown. Perhaps this is what inspired me to (finally) get a wok and try making some Chinese dishes. When I mentioned my dinner plans to one of my best friends, her first response was “Wow, you never make Asian dishes!” Yah, that about sums it up. I just wasn’t one of those kids that stood in the kitchen and watched my mom cook. It doesn’t help that my mom is a “pinch of this” and “dash of that” kind of cook, so figuring out her recipes is tricky. This is why I grabbed this recipe from somewhere else (sorry Mom). This recipe hits it right on the money – crisp-tender broccoli, delicious tofu, all coated in a garlic sesame brown sauce. Yum.

Most of the ingredients in this recipe should be available at local grocery stores (check out the Asian/International food aisle), but I did have to make a special trip out to Chinatown to pick up the dried, seasoned bean curd cakes. I know this tofu isn’t going to win a beauty award anytime soon, but don’t be afraid of the bean curd cakes, they’re legit. Delicious, dense, chewy, they absorb all the flavors from the sauce – you won’t even notice there’s no meat in this dish! Except for the fact that I just told you. Oops.

This recipe calls for an additional step of blanching the broccoli. At first I was wary of the extra work (I can be lazy in the kitchen), but the broccoli florets turn this beautiful bright green color the moment you put them in boiling water (see pictures for proof). It also starts cooking the broccoli so you don’t need to stir-fry it as long. Just be sure to really drain the florets because you’ll be putting them into extremely hot oil – water and hot oil are not friends!

As with true chinese stir-frying, all cooking was done at high heat, so it was really important to get all my ingredients measured and ready (set up my mise en place) before I fired up the wok. Once the ingredients hit the oil, I had to keep them moving constantly to prevent burning. The good news is, the dish comes together in a flash! If you don’t have a wok, don’t fret. I also tried making this in my Le Creuset dutch oven, and it came out perfectly. Woks just make me feel more Asian. And I found an inexpensive wok at Williams-Sonoma here.

Even after being subjected to extremely high heat, the broccoli still retained most of its bright green color – blanching works! I’m the kind of girl that likes plenty of sauce to drizzle over my rice, so I think next time I’ll try doubling the sauce portion. Serve this up over a fluffy bed of white rice and enjoy (man man chi!)!

Stir-Fried Tofu with Broccoli

For the sauce:

  • 2 Tbsp. oyster sauce
  • 2 tsp. dark soy sauce
  • 2 tsp. Shaoxing wine
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • 1 1/4 tsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
  • Pinch of ground white pepper
  • 1/2 cup vegetable stock
  • 3 heads broccoli, 1 pound each
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/2-inch-thick slice ginger, peeled and slightly smashed
  • 1 Tbsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda (optional)
  • 3 Tbsp. peanut oil
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 6 seasoned bean curd cakes (8 oz.), cut into thin slices about 1/8-inch thick
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  1. To make the sauce, in a small bowl, mix together all of the ingredients and reserve.
  2. To water-blanch the broccoli, first trim the broccoli heads into florets. In a pot, bring the water to a boil over high heat. Add the ginger, salt, and baking soda (if using). When the water returns to a boil, add the broccoli and blanch for 10 seconds, then turn off the heat. Drain and rinse immediately with cold water to stop the cooking process and keep that bright green color on the veggies. Discard the ginger.
  3. Heat a wok over high heat for 30 seconds. Add 1/2 Tbsp. of the peanut oil and coat the wok with the oil. When the oil begins to smoke, add the garlic and saute briefly until the garlic starts to brown. Add the bean curd slices and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, transfer the bean curd to a small dish, and reserve.
  4. Heat the wok again on high heat. Add the remaining 1 1/2 Tbsp. peanut oil and the salt and stir for 45 seconds, or until very hot. Carefully add the reserved broccoli and stir-fry for 2 minutes, making sure the broccoli is well coated with the oil. Add the reserved bean curd and stir-fry for 1 1/2 minutes, or until all the ingredients are well mixed and hot. Make a well in the center of the mixture, stir the sauce, and pour it into the well. Stir and mix for 2 minutes, or until the sauce has thickened and bubbled. Take off the heat and enjoy!

Soure: Adapted from Mastering the Art of Chinese Cooking

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