Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kung Pao Tofu

My dad gave Betsy this great Chinese cookbook, Chinese Cuisine Made Simple by Dorothy Huang (even had it autographed!), and it's proven a great resource as Betsy has strived to learn new tricks and techniques.  When she told me she'd like me to make this recipe for her and Jason because it was one of his favorites, I was a bit intimidated.  I mean, Kung Pao Tofu?  I'd never even heard of dry tofu, and I didn't like the thought of making something Jason really liked after he'd had Betsy's version.  Anyway, I dove in, and I was pretty pleased with the results.  Here's to trying new things!

Kung Pao Tofu

1/2 pound dry tofu
1 red bell pepper

Seasoning Sauce:
1 tsp. cornstarch
1 tsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1 tbsp. rice vinegar
1 tbsp. soy sauce
2 tbsp. Hoisin sauce
2 tbsp. water
1/2 tsp. sesame oil

2 tbsp. cooking oil
6 dried chili peppers
1 tsp. minced garlic
Salt, to taste
1/2 cup roasted peanuts
1 tbsp. chopped green onion

Cut dry tofu and bell pepper into 1/2-inch dice
Combine seasoning sauce ingredients in a small bowl.
Heat 2 tbsp. oil in a wok over high heat.  Add dried chili peppers, and cook until they are almost black.  Add ginger, tofu, and bell pepper.  Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
Pour in sauce.  Stir a few seconds.  Salt to taste.  Add peanuts.  Remove to a serving platter.  Discard red chili peppers.  Sprinkle chopped green onion on top.

Note: I skipped the chili peppers and the green onion at the end.

I love the Forged Cutlery Collection, and one thing that's so great is the sharpener.  Betsy has been preoccupied with pregnancy and birthing her first child, so I understood when her knives struck me as a little dull... all of them.  A few swipes on the Knife Shapener, and they were as good as new!  This also works for other brands, by the way.

I'm using my favorite knife, the 5" Santoku, to dice my tofu and pepper.  Ingredients are going into 2-Cup Prep Bowls, and everything is resting on a Large Cutting Board.  Love love love this cutting board!

Hoisin sauce, peanut butter, shortening, honey - These types of ingredients are kind of annoying to measure, but the Measure-All Cup takes them to school.  Push to the measurement you want, fill the cup, and pop the ingredient right out.  So simple!  Other ingredients are in the Measuring Spoon Set and the Easy Read Mini Measuring Cup.  That's the Small Batter Bowl I'm using for my sauce, and I've got the Mini Mix 'n Scraper to stir it all up.

Betsy did me a solid and showed me her method for roasting peanuts.  They're pretty common in Chinese cooking, and her husband also enjoys them as a snack.  In short, Betsy has become the peanut master.  A bit of oil, a bit of heat, and a constant stir.  Done!  This is the Stir-Fry Skillet from the Executive Cookware Collection, and Betsy is using a Bamboo Spatula.

This is where things get hairy.  There will be no other pictures until the finished product because high heat, oil, and steady ingredient additions simply don't equal, "Oh, time for a great shot!"  That said, I rocked this recipe like a hurricane.  I could have been on the Food Network with my mad skills.  Why so simple?  Yeah, that would be the prep work I did ahead of time.  Notice that every step is in its respective bowl or measuring cup.  My sauce is mixed, pepper and tofu are prepped, and the peanuts are sitting measured and ready.  Do not attempt a stir-fry without prepping!  It's a recipe for burning food, smoking up the kitchen, and *probably* setting off the smoke alarm.  Ask me how I know.
Beautiful kung pao tofu!  This turned out to be a great dish that I plan to make again once I get home.  Now that I know what dry tofu looks like, I think I can pull it off.  I'm pretty sure you can, too!

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