Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Dinner Possible - Ma Po Tofu

OK…I hear the groans already.  ”I don’t like tofu, it’s all soft and icky”.  Well, try this presentation, and I might just change your mind.
Tofu is soybean curd, a soft cheese like food that is made by curdling fresh hot soy milk with a coagulant; traditionally nigari; then it is pressed into blocks and kept either in a tub of salted water or vacuum packed. Either way, once it’s opened, you need to put any that you don’t use into a container with fresh water, change the water DAILY, and use it up within a week.
Tofu is a bland food.  It simply takes in the flavors of the seasonings in the dish it is being added to.
There are 3 main types of tofu; firm tofu is dense and holds up well in stir-fry dishes, soups or even on the grill (it’s what we are using for our stir-fry).  Soft tofu is a good choice for recipes that call for a blended tofu, or in an Oriental soup.  Silken tofu is made with a slightly different process that makes it softer and more custard like.  In Japan, silken tofu is enjoyed as is, dipped into a bit of soy sauce.  Silken tofu is what is most generally put into Japanese Miso Soup.
Tofu is a rich, high quality protein.  It is an excellent food source for people of all ages, from babies to the elderly.  It is a total chameleon, you can make it taste any way you want it to…
In this recipe, we take firm tofu and dry it between paper towels weighed down with a plate.  This takes the excess moisture out of the slices and then you can fry it and get a crisp edge.  I also use Buckwheat noodles (Soba); because its a natural grain, but if you prefer, you can use some whole wheat angel hair pasta.

Ma Po Tofu

Ma Po Tofu
  • 1 (12 – ounce) container firm tofu (you can use silken if you desire, I just buy firm tofu)
  • 1/2 cup low-salt chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce*
  • 2 teaspoons chili-garlic sauce*
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil, divided
  • 8 ounces pork tenderloin, cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tablespoon fresh minced ginger root
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 cup sliced green onions (white and green parts)
  • 1/2 cup edamame, thawed if frozen**
  • 1 pound Soba noodles, cooked according to package directions, or whole wheat angel hair pasta
  • 1 teaspoon sesame seed oil
  • 2 green onions, sliced thinly for garnish (optional)

  1. Slice the tofu into 1/2 inch slices and place between several layers of paper towels, put a dinner plate on top and let stand for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the plate, discard the paper towels and cut into 1/2 inch cubes.
  2. In a small bowl whisk together the chicken broth, cornstarch, soy sauce, oyster sauce and garlic chili sauce; set aside.
  3. In a food processor, add the pork cubes, ginger, garlic, jalapeno, and green onions. Pulse until the meat is finely chopped.
  4. Heat a large skillet or wok over medium high heat. Add 1 tablespoon oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Add the tofu and saute, stirring frequently, until lightly browned; remove and set aside.
  5. Reduce heat to medium. Add remaining oil and the pork mixture; saute, stirring frequently to break up the pieces; saute until the pork loses its pink color. Add the edamame and tofu; saute 1 minute.
  6. Add the sauce mixture; bring to a simmer and simmer until slightly thickened.
  7. Toss the hot cooked noodles with the sesame seed oil. Divide the pasta among four heated bowls, top with the Ma Po Tofu and garnish with green onions, if desired.
  8. Per Serving: 627 Calories (19% from fat); 14g Fat (2g Sat, 7g Mono, 3g Poly); 37g Protein; 95g Carbohydrate; 11g Dietary Fiber; 37mg Cholesterol; 495mg Sodium.
  9. *Oyster sauce and chili garlic sauce can be found in most supermarkets or at an Oriental Grocery Store.
  10. **Edamame (soy beans) can be found in most supermarkets in their frozen food section. If you cannot find edamame, move. Or substitute frozen peas.

LindySez: Chopsticks are optional…

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