Monday, January 4, 2010

Spicy Korean Tofu Stew

Generally speaking, I'm like a lot of Americans when it comes to tofu.  Well, a lot of Americans don't eat tofu at all, but I am like the majority of tofu-eating Americans.  In theory tofu is a great thing, but I find it awfully hard to cook tofu so that it tastes good.  Theoretically tofu should soak up flavors really well, but I usually end up with these bricks of tofu that might taste good around the perimeter, but with dense and flavorless centers.  And then I can't help thinking that the dish would have been so much better if I hadn't tried to be healthy and had just used meat instead.

But in the spirit of being a good little half-Asian, I decided to make another attempt - this time with silken tofu, rather than firm or medium.  I found this recipe in The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, which I picked up at the store recently after being a fan of Jaden's blog for a long time.  Speaking of her blog, she just posted a recipe for the Scarpetta's Spaghetti with Fresh Tomato Sauce and Garlic Basil Oil that I must try.  I actually went to Scarpetta the other day and tried their spaghetti and it is AMAZING - so fresh and tomato-y, but not cloyingly sweet like some simple tomato sauces can be.  Speaking of sweet tomato sauce, when I studied abroad in France they once offered me "cold tomato sauce" to put on my pasta, which turned out to be a bottle of Heinz ketchup.  Ick.  Totally, irrelevant, but still - ick.  But the spaghetti recipe is a post (and a recipe) for another day.

This stew is nice because you can modify it easily to suit your tastes - add more chili flakes to make it spicier, substitute some enoki and oyster mushrooms for the beef to make it vegetarian, etc. My husband and I threw in 4 tbsp of Korean red chili flakes and it was perfectly spicy, but if you don't like spicy food as much as we do (and this was legitimately spicy), take it down a notch and only add 2-3 tbsp.  We also substituted some thinly sliced skirt steak for what I assume was meant to be raw bulgogi meat (which is generally made with thin slices of sirloin).  Skirt steak is great because it is cheap, and it has some serious flavor.  Either way, this spicy stew was the perfect dinner on a cold New York winter day.  The egg that is boiled in the soup until essentially poached was my absolute favorite part.  So delicious.  But then again, I have a serious thing for runny eggs.  And, I am proud to report that I am now a tofu convert!  At least when using this particular recipe...

Recipe after the jump.

Spicy Korean Tofu Stew
The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook
Jaden Hair

1 tbsp high-heat cooking oil (canola or peanut oil works fine)
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 pound thinly sliced skirt steak
4 cups chicken stock (but vegetable, beef or pork will do)
8 fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced
4 tbsp Korean chili flakes
1 1/2 tbsp soy sauce
1 14 oz block of silken tofu, cut into large cubes
4 eggs
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 scallions, sliced on diagonal into 2 inch lengths
2 cups cooked steamed rice (divided into four bowls)

Set pot over medium-high heat.  When hot, add the oil and swirl to coat.  Add garlic and fry about 30 seconds, or until fragrant.  Add the beef slices and fry for one minute until browned.  Pour in the stock, add the chili flakes, and soy sauce.  Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.  Carefully add the tofu and sliced shitake mushrooms, and return stew to a rolling boil.  Taste the stew and add additional chili flakes or soy sauce if necessary.  Crack the eggs carefully into the pot and cook eggs until the egg whites are firm, but the yolks are still runny.  Turn off heat, drizzle with sesame oil and finish with sliced scallions.

Serve immediately in bowls on top of the steamed rice.

1 comment:

  1. I love spaghetti since I was a child. My mom always cooks me, my brothers and my sister whenever it's our birthday or other special occasions that needs celebrating. Thanks for sharing this recipe. Now I can cook for my mom. I'll definitely make this before I get my iso certification training.