Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pressed Tofu and Peanuts in Spicy Bean Sauce (Hua Ren Dou Fu Gan)

Happy Belated Thanksgiving!  I don't know about y'all, but as much as I enjoy Thanksgiving, it wrecks me for weeks to come.  Too much starch, too much dairy, too much dessert, too much...well everything really.  Alex and I got back to NYC last night after spending Thanksgiving with his family and all I wanted for dinner was either straight up veggies or seafood.  We settled on sushi - low carb, no dairy and simple.  Well, I assume it's not that simple for the people preparing it, but it doesn't get much simpler for us than picking up the phone and ordering delivery.  Today we are having a very simple kabocha squash soup for lunch and some swordfish for dinner.  I can't even think about another plate of turkey, stuffing or corn pudding for at least another month.  

This tofu dish would have made a good weekend after Thanksgiving meal too - it is satisfyingly spicy and tasty, while still being pretty simple to prepare.  We actually made it the weekend before Thanksgiving, but I didn't have time to post it before the holiday.  If I have my way I will be digging into the leftovers shortly.  My favorite thing about this recipe was how the flavors of the smoked tofu and the 5-spice seasoned tofu combined with the sauce.  We used a combination of the two because we had both in the fridge and it just seemed like a good idea.  We also didn't have quite enough of either to make the full recipe - either we made a half recipe with one type, or we combined both and made the full recipe.  And as much as I love smoked tofu it can get a little overwhelming.  The sauce is assertive enough that you would probably be ok using just smoked tofu, but we figured why not combine the two?  I love the texture of pressed tofu, which is firmer and has more of a springy/chewy texture than even extra-firm tofu does.  We typically use smoked or seasoned pressed tofu in simple salads with celery and peanuts, like this Smoked Tofu with Celery and Peanuts.  Mark Bittman also has what looks like an interesting take on the classic Celery and Tofu Salad that I want to make the next time we hit Chinatown for groceries.  We served the tofu with some sauteed bok choy with garlic and it was a perfect, light and easy meal.  And it was about as un-Thanksgivingy as it gets.  Yum.

Recipe after the jump!

Pressed Tofu and Peanuts in Spicy Bean Sauce (Hua Ren Dou Fu Gan)
Adapted from Asian Tofu
By Andrea Nguyen

12-14 oz smoked tofu and/or 5-spice seasoned tofu
2/3 cup unsalted roasted peanuts
2-3 scallions, green and white parts, thinly sliced
3 tbsp peanut or canola oil
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fermented black beans, rinsed, and mashed with the flat side of a knife
2 1/2 tbsp chili bean sauce
2 tsp light soy sauce
1/2 tsp sugar (or to taste)
1-2 tbsp chili oil

Cut the tofu into 1/2-inch cubes.  Transfer the tofu to a bowl, along with peanuts and scallions.  Set aside.

In a small saucepan, combine oil, sesame oil, fermented black beans and chili bean paste.  Heat over medium heat until gently sizzling, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking for 30-45 seconds, stirring constantly, until super fragrant.  Remove from the heat and stir in soy sauce and sugar.  

Pour sauce over the tofu mixture.  Add chili oil to taste.  If necessary, season with additional sugar or sesame oil.  Stir to combine.  


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