Manchurian with Tofu
Valentine's Day is coming up this week. I'm still not sure if my husband Lulu will be home on time (he's scheduled business travels this week) but we know for sure we'll have a lovely belated celebration together eventually. One of Lulu's favorite dishes these days is anything spicy, especially this to-die-for vegetarian Indian Chinese Manchurian dish that I prepare for him with deep fried tofu.
I used freshly-made extra-firm tofu that I cut into large chunks and deep-fried. The rest was ultra easy; I tossed in a few seasonal veggies and coated everything in a combination of hoisin sauce, soy sauce, chili garlic sauce and fresh red chiles. Isn't it a great way to start spicing things up?
Yields: 8 servings1 (16-ounce) package fresh firm tofu, cleaned and pat-dried
1 tablespoon tapioca starch
½ cup vegetable oil, as needed
1 yellow onion, coarsely chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
2 tablespoons fresh ginger, finely chopped
¼ cup black bean garlic sauce
1 tablespoon chili garlic sauce
¼ cup hoisin sauce
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 green bell pepper, coarsely chopped
4 green onions, cut into 3"-pieces
¼ teaspoon turmeric
2 fresh red Thai chiles, stemmed and sliced on the bias
1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
1 teaspoon kosher salt, to taste
2 teaspoons freshly cracked pepper, to taste
juice of 1 lime
Prepping the tofu: Cut the tofu into ½-inch slices, then into ½-inch strips. Using a fine mesh strainer, dredge the tofu in tapioca starch on both sides. Gently shake off any excess. In a wok, heat 6 tablespoons of oil. Pan-fry the pieces of tofu on both sides until golden and puffy. The tofu should have a nice fried outer crust and still be moist inside. Transfer the tofu onto paper towels. Once the tofu pieces are cool enough to handle, cut the strips into 2½-inch pieces. Set aside.
For the dry Manchurian gravy: In the same wok, add the ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the green onions and bell pepper. Cook for 1 minute, then add the black bean sauce, chili garlic sauce and a bit of salt. Return the deep-fried tofu, fresh red chiles and turmeric to the wok. Stir fry until evenly distributed.
Assembly: Pour the hoisin sauce into the wok and scrape the solids at the bottom of the pan. Constantly toss the tofu to ensure each piece is coated with the gravy. As soon as all the liquid evaporates, add the onions, soy sauce and cilantro. Cover and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring often. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper and finish with a drizzle of lime juice.
Transfer to a large serving platter.
Serve immediately with steamed rice on the side.
For this dish, it's important to keep the temperature of the stove at the highest setting. The higher the temperature, the better. If some solids start sticking to the bottom of the pan, add a little water.Published By: on February 13, 2014.