ORIGINAL RECIPE: “Bean Curd with Mushrooms”/”Mo Gu Dofu,” from Madhur Jaffrey’s World Vegetarian. Also, “Stir-Fried Carrots and Ginger with Mustard Seeds”*
TIMING: 45 minutes, including 30 minutes rest time
DIFFICULTY: A little complicated, or requiring finesse
TOOLS: A non-stick wok or at least a good non-stick skillet or saute pan
COOK TYPE: Stovetop. Pan frying
It is pan-fried, so we’ve departed from a completely zen experience, but this tofu preparation can become a healthy and tasty addition to your own rotation of vegetarian meals.
EXPERIENCE: I don’t always have tofu on hand, but when the meat seems to be eating up too much of the weekly budget, I often throw a carton of extra firm tofu into the cart. Plus, my husband loves tofu. And we try to eat vegetarian one to two nights per week.
Although we did not particularly like this original recipe’s mushroom sauce, I loved the preparation for the tofu. It would be great set on top of a stir-fry or fried rice or many other Chinese dishes. It’s just the tiniest bit crunchy, salty, and savory. If you like tofu, you’re going to love this.
NOTES: Obviously, I added some frozen peas into my carrots at the end. This works for kids, but it’s not particularly refined.
Also, this tofu could be the start of so many great ideas. Appetizers? Served with a topping? Vegetarian “nuggets”? Stuffed in a sandwich or a pita? On top of a green salad?
- Cut 1 package extra firm tofu into slices about 1/4-1/2 inch thick. Lay out on a cutting board double-lined with paper towels. Cover with another layer of paper towel and a sheet pan weighed down with large cans or cast iron pans. Let this set-up sit for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together 2 egg whites, 1 tablespoon sherry or rice wine, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 cup cornstarch.
- When your tofu is pressed, remove and cut into the shape you desire. Triangles are nice.
- In a non-stick wok, skillet, or saute pan, pour safflower or peanut oil to a depth of 3/4 inches. Heat over medium-high heat until oil begins to shimmer and a corner of tofu sizzles when dipped in.
- Give your cornstarch a final, vigorous whisk and dredge the tofu in it 1 at a time as you move to the next step.
- Fry tofu in batches without crowding the pan for 1-2 minutes on each side until golden. Remove with a slotted spoon to clean paper towel and continue batches until all tofu is done.
- At this point, you can sprinkle the tofu with soy sauce or salt or toss with a sauce of your choice.
BONUS RECIPE: INDIAN STIR-FRIED CARROTS
- In a large wok or saute pan, heat 3 tablespoons peanut or safflower oil over medium-high heat.
- When oil is hot, add 1/2 teaspoon black mustard seeds, swirl, and wait until they begin to pop.
- Immediately add 1 pound grated carrots, 2 inches grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and a squeeze from 1/2 lime. Stir for 2-3 minutes until carrots are tender but not mushy.
- Add Chinese chili to taste and taste for salt or soy sauce. Serve.
Serve with fried rice and a fried egg.
*Recipe changed from the original.