Monday, July 2, 2012

Stir-Fried Lettuce with Seared Tofu and Red Pepper

This recipe is one that I found a few weeks ago when looking for new tofu recipes.  It sounded a little weird, but intriguing.  I have never used lettuce in a stir-fry before.  And we don't use a ton of red bell peppers in our cooking because I often don't think they add much of anything to a dish.  But this dish was the exception - I thought the red pepper peppers were totally crucial here.  They add a nice sweetness and a crunch that would otherwise be lacking.  I really liked them.  As for the lettuce, Alex said that he would have preferred cabbage to lettuce in the stir-fry, but I liked the lettuce.  Napa cabbage would have been a little sweeter, but similarly crunchy.  So I guess it's a matter of preference.  I really liked this dish.  I think I liked it more than Alex did, but I generally like tofu dishes more than Alex (at least I think I do, although he might like ma po tofu more than I do).  But I thought this dish was light and healthy, but very flavorful.  Given the small amount of jalapeno in there I didn't know if you would get any heat, but the heat was definitely there.  I wouldn't call it a spicy dish, but you could taste the heat of the chili in every bite.  You could also taste the garlic and the ginger in every bite.  I really liked it.  And I felt very... virtuous and healthy eating it, which was a plus.

Recipe after the jump!

Stir-Fried Lettuce with Seared Tofu and Red Pepper
Adapted from NY Times

2 tbsp Shaoxing rice wine or dry sherry
1 tbsp chicken broth, vegetable broth or water
4 tsp soy sauce
2 tbsp vegetable oil
16 oz firm tofu, drained on paper towels and cut into dominoes or diced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
2 large garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 tsp serrano or jalapeño chili, minced (I went a little heavy here, but you can totally cut it back to 1 tsp) 
1 red bell pepper, julienned
2 large romaine hearts, cut crosswise into 1-inch-wide ribbons
Salt to taste
2-3 tbsp chopped cilantro

Mix together the rice wine/sherry, the broth/water and 2 tsp soy sauce and set aside.

Heat a 14-inch flat-bottomed wok or 12-inch steel skillet over high heat until a drop of water evaporates within a second or two when added to the pan. Swirl in 1 tablespoon of the oil by adding it to the sides of the pan and swirling the pan, then add the tofu in batches (don't crowd the wok) and sear until golden brown on both sides. Repeat with remaining tofu. If the pan starts to look dry, add a little more oil. Once all of the tofu has been seared, return all of the tofu to the wok and add the remaining soy sauce. Toss and transfer the tofu to a plate.

Swirl in 1 tbsp oil and add the ginger, garlic and chili pepper and stir-fry for no more than 10 seconds, until fragrant. Add the red pepper and stir-fry for 1 minute, then add the lettuce and sprinkle on the salt (don't add too much salt - you there is soy sauce in the dressing and on the tofu already). Stir-fry for 1 minute, until the lettuce has begun to wilt. Add the rice wine mixture, cook 15 to 30 seconds, until the lettuce is bright and crisp tender.  Return the tofu to the wok, stir in the cilantro and remove from the heat.

Serve with rice.

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