Spicy Eggplant Tofu Recipe

Spicy Eggplant Tofu Recipe Recipe

Japanese eggplants cook fairly quickly and this stir fry sauce consists of basic ingredients such as soy sauce, chile black bean sauce, palm sugar and fresh ginger. The ginger and black bean sauce enhances the bland eggplant and tofu. All that's left is to steam a few leafy greens and have jasmine rice ready in the rice cooker. It's as easy as 1-2-3!

I barely have time for anything these days, and when I have very little time to cook, my go-to dish is a tofu stir fry. It’s nutritious and it allows me to make use of whatever I have on hand. Learn the basics and you’ll be able to dazzle your family with creative stir fry dishes.

Ingredients

Yields: 6 servings

1 (12-ounce) package firm tofu
3 tablespoons canola oil (or any neutral oil), as needed
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger
2 shallots, sliced
3 Japanese eggplants
½ teaspoon mushroom seasoning salt (or regular salt), to taste
1 tablespoon chili black bean sauce
1 teaspoon palm sugar, freshly grated (or light brown sugar)
4 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil (optional)
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped


Directions

Clean the chunk of ginger, carefully removing any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife or the edge of a spoon, then chop very finely.

Trim the eggplants. Cut them in half lengthwise and slice them into 5-6 pieces. Layer a cooling rack on top of a cookie sheet (to collect the excess moisture). Place the eggplant pieces on the rack and sprinkle with Kosher salt. Let sit for about 20 minutes, then pat dry using paper towels. Drizzle the eggplants with a little oil and sprinkle with about 1-½ tablespoons ginger. Toss well.

Cut the tofu into ¾-inch slices. In a wok, heat the canola oil. Pan-fry the slices on both sides until golden. The tofu should have a nice fried outer crust and still be moist inside. Transfer the tofu onto paper towels. Sprinkle with salt. Allow to cool a little. As soon as the tofu is not too hot to handle, cut each slice crosswise into thirds, then into cubes.

In a small bowl, combine the black bean sauce, soy sauce and sugar. Stir well.

In the same wok, add the rest of the ginger and the shallots. Cook until fragrant, then add the eggplant pieces. Ensure that the eggplant pieces are lightly coated in oil (no need to use a lot). Drizzle with the soy sauce mixture. Add the tofu pieces. Toss well, cover with a lid, lower the heat to low and cook for about 5-8 minutes until soft and tender.

Once all the liquid at the bottom of the wok evaporates, check doneness of the eggplant (add more water if not fully cooked; I didn't).

Drizzle with toasted sesame oil (if used). Check seasoning; add mushroom seasoning salt and black pepper. Turn off the heat. Keep on the stove for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter. Garnish with cilantro.

Serve with jasmine rice and drizzle a little vegetarian nước chấm dipping sauce over it.

Bon appétit!


Tips

You could add any other vegetables such as enoki mushrooms, straw mushrooms, bok choy, bean sprouts or zucchini.

If you like you, you could add stir-fried thinly sliced chicken breast.

I used Golden Gate brand tofu; just make sure to look for the firm version.

My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a very nice flavor and is not too salty. You can find this particular sauce at, for example, Dai Thanh Asian market on 420 S 2nd St, in San Jose. Make sure the bottle says nước tương chay, which means vegetarian in Vietnamese.

You can use store-bought chili black bean sauce, like the one from Lee Kum Kee. Be sure to adjust the seasoning as this sauce is quite salty.

Mushroom seasoning salt brings a very distinct, earthy flavor to the veggies. If you don't have any, you can always use regular salt. You can get mushroom seasoning salt at any gourmet specialty store or in most Korean stores. I get mine at the Marina -10122 Bandley Drive -Cupertino, CA 95014.

The addition of the sesame oil at the end is optional but brings a nice fragrance to the dish.

You can find all the ingredients listed in most Asian stores.

Published By: Jacqueline Pham on April 3, 2012.


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