New tradition of Sunday home-cooking installment #1: Joel’s house, Cashew tofu and Szechuan string beans

CASHEW TOFU

Ingredients:
my cookbook calls for 1 liter of vegetable oil, I used a little over half a quart of canola
1 block of tofu
3 cloves of garlic
3 red chilies
1/4 cup of bean sauce (the recipe is vague, but I used Lee Kum Kee’s Black Bean Garlic Sauce per my friend’s suggestion)
1/4 cup of sugar
2 Tbsp. soy sauce
2 Tbsp. mirin
2 Tbsp. ketchup
1 1/2 cups roasted cashews

In a pot or wok, heat the oil until very hot. Rinse the tofu under cold running water, pat dry, then cut into pieces. Add tofu to hot oil an dfry until golden-brown, about 3 minutes; remove from oil with a skimmer, and drain on paper towels. When oil is cool enough to handle, set aside 1/2 cup, and store remaining oil for another use.

Peel and finely chop the garlic. Wash the chilies, removing the stems, then finely chop. In a small bowl, combine the bean sauce, sugar and chilies; mix well, mashing the beans.

Heat the reserved 1/2 cup of oil in a frying pan or wok over high heat. Add the garlic and stir-fry until golden-brown. Stir in the bean sauce mixture, soy sauce, mirin, ketchup, and enough water to reach desired sauce consistency (a few Tbsp. water, I think). Add the tofu and cashews. Simmer for about 4 minutes. Serve immediately over rice.

Served with quinoa.

SZECHUAN STRING BEANS

Ingredients:
1 1/2 lbs. green beans, ends trimmed (although we used a fraction of that, along with 5 ozs. of fresh spinach)
3 Tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame oil
1 Tbsp. mirin
1 tsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. peanut oil
3 shallots, minced
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. peeled and minced fresh ginger (although we forgot)
3 Tbsp. minced scallions
1 tsp. red pepper flakes

Lightly steam the green beans until just tender, about five minutes. Rinse under cold running water to stop the cooking process and set the color. Drain and set aside. In a small bowl, combine the tamari/soy sauce, sesame oil, mirin, and sugar and set aside. Heat the peanut oil in a wok or large skillet over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add the beans, handful at a time, and stir fry for 30 seconds, transferring the cooked beans with a slotted spoon to a platter, until all of the beans are cooked. Let the oil reheat, then add the shallots, garlic, ginger, scallions, and red pepper flakes and stir fry for 10 seconds. Return the beans to the wok and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the tamari mixture and stir fry until the beans are hot and coated with sauce, about 30 seconds. Serve immediately.

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