Sunday, September 10, 2006

Tofu Stir-Fry

I made a pretty decent stir-fry today. I started with a Weight Watchers recipe for Vegetable Fried Rice, but modified it a lot. Here are the ingredients:
ingredients all laid out for cooking
1 block of extra-firm tofu
1 bunch of bok choy (leaves & stems separated)
1 onion
1 red bell pepper
2 1/2 cups brown rice
1 1/2 tsp minced fresh ginger (first time I ever worked with that!)
1 T canola oil
2 t sesame oil
1 1/2 T soy sauce
2 small eggs

After heating the oil, I put in the red pepper and bok choy stems and cooked those a bit. I added the onions and tofu, meanwhile scrambling the eggs in another pan. When the onions were mostly done, I added the rice, ginger, bok choy leaves, and soy sauce. Once the bok choy leaves were wilted, I added the scrambled eggs and mixed everything up. Here is how it looked:

tofu stir-fry
I divided this into five portions for lunches. I had one portion right away. It's pretty good - kind of mild, and the ginger is pretty noticeable. I've never worked with bok choy before, and the leaves turned out a little bitter for my taste, but still edible. The stalks came out really good. (I've had them in Chinese food before, of course, but cooking something yourself is different in terms of appreciating its qualities.)


Tam's momm said...

Looks good!
If I move to Denver will you make that for me without the eggs?

Tam said...


sally said...

Ginger and bok choy are both fairly overwhelming flavors, in my experience. I use them, but I'm not sure how much I actually like them (in stir-fry, I mean; ginger is delish in baking), which suddenly strikes me as strange. Garlic might help balance the flavor of the ginger. I'm not sure what can be done about the peppery bitterness of the bok choy (and I love pepper).

I'm guessing you're trying to keep the sodium levels halfway reasonable, so this may not work for you at all, but I often end up using a bottled sauce at the table for extra flavor when a recipe like this turns out too mild (and WW Chinese-type recipes are always too mild IMO; they seem to think soy sauce is a real "sauce" on its own; I would think adding some hoisin, fish, or oyster sauce would give it more depth) - I like the House of Tsang Schezuan Spicy Stir fry Sauce quite a bit. Yes, I'm sure using a bottled sauce is a COMPLETELY novel concept for you. (Hey, I'm just doing my part to spread the gospel of the House of Tsang. Next, I will be spam-faxing businesses all over America with a "Hey Jenny, this is the wonderful stir fry sauce I was telling you about!" message atop a page showing the details of this sauce from God.)

As you can see, I bring a lot of Chinese(-inspired) cooking credibility to this discussion. ;)

sally said...

By the way, nice mise en place photo (though the Cooking Show Gods and Martha Stewart would probably disdain the fact that you left your onion on the chopping board). Do you usually prep this way or is it just for quick stuff like stir fry? I have to fight my inner Extra-Dish-Use-Hating-Demons (which is silly, since I don't even do the dishes - I have elves for that) when I want to do that kind of prep. Looking at my chopping board, a person might think I was attempting to break a world record for how many disparate ingredients are sitting in poorly-maintained clumps on it. (A record I could never win because I do have the good sense to use separate boards for meat and veg.)

Tam said...

I normally know what I'm doing when I cook something, so I am cutting things up as needed. (Also, I don't usually cut up a lot of stuff. I buy pre-cut vegetables and bagged spinach, for instance.) But this time I wasn't sure exactly what to do, so I cut up everything ahead of time, and then I had no choice but to put things in bowls.

Mosch does the dishes at our place, and has made it clear on numerous occasions that he doesn't mind extra dishes for stuff like this, so it's OK, I guess. Of course, basically you just have to put the bowls in the dishwasher - no hand-washing necessary if you have a good dishwasher, and even a crappy dishwasher can probably handle a Corel bowl that had nothing more than chopped red pepper sitting in it, you know?

I really do love the bok choy stalks, though they don't have a strong flavor. The leaves are kind of like spinach or any other kind of dark green leaf, but a bit more bitter than spinach. Overall the dish is okay, though.

I'm usually disappointed with the bottled sauces, not because I can make better sauces on my own, but just...I don't know. I don't tend to cook with a ton of seasoning even though I like things spicy.

Tam said...

(Oh, and of course at some point as I was cutting things up, I got the idea of taking the photo for the blog, so of course I started making sure things were a bit pretty. And the little bowl of ginger was really sitting on the bar before I moved it down to the counter for the picture.)

sally said...

I wonder if your disappointment with bottled sauces is that they don't live up to the very yummy sauces served with one's favorite dishes in a decent Chinese restaurant. Expectations are higher with sauces that come from someone else, who supposedly has some expertise, than ones that we make ourselves, because what the hell do we (or the WW people who wrote a recipe or whoever) know? YMMV, of course, but I sort of had to, at one point, realign my expectations such that I realized that nothing I or some company selling sauce in jars made was going to be as good as the real thing. (Note: I still haven't found a sign that the thai garlic sauce I loved continues to be made; waaaah.)

It's interesting that you don't cook with a lot of seasoning, given that you like things spicy. Do you know why? Do you just gravitate toward things that don't require a lot of seasoning?

It's been fairly recently that I finally really internalized the fact that Robert likes hot (spicy) food, but he doesn't actually like the flavor of particular seasonings all that much. I have always viewed spiciness and flavoring as being mostly the same thing, so it took me a while to see how a person could like spicy food but still dislike the taste of cumin, for example. Do you ever run into this yourself? I've found red pepper flakes and tabasco sauce useful for adding heat without flavor. Actually, I've made a shrimp fried rice recipe that calls for tabasco sauce (probably from the tabasco sauce label) and it's a nice addition to the soy sauce. It's yummier than it might sound.

Tam said...

It's funny that you mention tabasco sauce, since I really don't like the taste of it at all. I use crushed red pepper flakes a lot, and occasionally cayenne pepper (in, for instance, red beans & rice).

I don't know why I don't cook with seasonings more. I don't think I usually do a good job with them when I do. I mostly stick to onion, garlic, black and red pepper, cumin, chili powder, and salt. When I make pasta, it's usually from a bottled sauce that already has seasonings in it, and all I add is a bunch of veggies and some of the things listed above.

I love spicy food, especially oily spicy food (Mexican, Thai, Indian, etc.), but I am not a fan of what I think of as the "other" class of spices - things that go with vinegar in my mind, like sage, or fennel, or...I don't know, that whole class of enerally "European" spices. (I don't specifically dislike sage, it just seemed to fit with the class I was naming.) I don't like things to have a vinegary or "challenging" taste.

sally said...

It sounds to me like you enjoy many actual spices (e.g. cumin, cayenne pepper, pepper flakes; oh, but not fennel) but aren't as fond of herbs, esp. the European herbs, though you certainly do get some of the milder ones in bottled pasta sauce. Do you like cilantro? Do you like five spice powder?

You like ginger okay it sounds like. How about that other common rhizome, turmeric? (I'm guessing yes, if you like Indian food.)

Your preferences WILL submit to some straight-forward categorical scheme, damn it!

Guess who I'm NOT buying a copy of the book of French recipes that my brother-in-law was showing off to us last week, even if it does have an entire section on the fallacy that only young rabbits are good for eating and how to best prepare a more aged rabbit? (They did not recommend fricassee; I have mentally blocked the preparation method they suggested.)

I made scrambled eggs for Robert and myself at my sister's house using herbes de Provence. Robert was immediately like, This tastes like tarragon [and I hate tarragon! Tarragon makes Hulk smash!], and I said, no it's herbes de ... oh. Damn him and his sensitive taste buds!

Tam said...

I do like cilantro. I don't know what five spice powder is. I assume I like turmeric because of the Indian thing. I know I don't like tarragon much at all (though it's not to a "hulk smash" level).

tam's momm said...

Have you ever tried Ponzu sauce in your stir fry? I use it when I make bbq tofu pot stickers. It goes well with sesame oil.

sally said...

FYI, Chinese five spice powder from Penzey's contains: China cassia cinnamon, star anise, anise seed, ginger and cloves.