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Asian-style Pan Fried Tofu

09/23/2009

For anyone who has been following along, the raspberry-blackberry jam is delicious. The pectin instructions say the open jelly keeps three weeks in the fridge, but I’m pretty sure the only reason it doesn’t last long is because it will be devoured. When I finally decided it was time to eat it (about a week after “canning”), we were so excited that we ate it on stale, possibly moldy pita because that was all we had. Since then I have enjoyed it on challah and multigrain Ego waffles. Yum!

Sweet and sour "chicken"

I also think I found a way to continue keeping Kosher and begin to get a sense of the amazing cuisine described in The Last Chinese Chef. The solution: a restaurant tucked away in Chinatown called Buddha Bodai. It’s vegetarian–vegan, actually–and Kosher! The sign outside actually says vegetarian on it in several languages, including Hebrew, which is pretty cool. With dishes like crispy duck and jelly fish, it seemed pretty authentic. We tried the House Special Assorted Appetizer to force ourselves to experiment and the Sweet and Sour Chicken, which was wonderful. It was a little overwhelming to be able to order anything on the menu–including the jelly fish, but a great experience. I can’t wait to go back for dim sum.

First fry

I decided it is time to share a secret. Ever since I discovered this recipe, I have made some incarnation of it at least once a week. It is phenomenal. The recipe comes from VeganYumYum. Just like I’m not a vegetarian or gluten-free, I am not a vegan, but there is something about those culinary underdogs that really appeal to me, so I love this blog. And vegan desserts make for excellent pareve recipes. Besides, vegan or not, the recipes that I’ve sampled from it so far have been huge successes. So today, I am going to tell you about the Pan Fried Tofu, Kale, and Stir-Fried Noodles. I found this recipe when I was trying to figure out what I could do with the obscene amount of kale that I had talked myself into buying at the farmers’ market this summer. That’s what it’s all about, right? Trying new things? Since my initial kale feast I have made this dish many times, but tweaking it to fit my tastes and whatever is in my refrigerator.

Firstly, I have thus far been unable to find Kosher rice noodles. If anyone knows of a brand or store that sells them, you would be changing my life. So instead I have used basmati rice, brown rice, and quinoa based on whatever leftovers happen to be around. It’s still good and it still fits the Asian theme (except the quinoa, but I just love quinoa).

Bubbling away!I didn’t love the kale. It got a bit of a rubbery texture after cooking, which grew on me throughout the meal, but I’d rather like it from the start. So instead, I have been marinating eggplant and zucchini slices in the dipping sauce before sauteeing it while the tofu is resting. (In case you don’t know this trick: when cooking eggplant, if you cut it up, sprinkle salt on it, and let it “sweat” for a bit, the bitterness comes out and you end up with a delightful eggplant dish. If you want to reduce the sodium content, just rinse the eggplant post-sweating.)

Tofu, quinoa, and zucchini

Other than that, I have loyally followed the recipe more-or-less. I haven’t had sriracha lying around, so that never made the cut. Sometimes I have substituted cayenne to give it some kick. What really makes this dish, though, is the fresh ginger. Even a little bit of it packs so much flavor. The ginger and the technique. The marinating, a mostly dry-fry first, and letting the tofu stand before eating produce a great tofu dish. Oh, and the dipping sauce kicks up to a whole new level. And VeganYumYum is right–it makes fantastic leftovers!

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