Friday, June 4, 2010

Tofu with Barbecue Pork

People seem to either love or hate tofu. I happen to love it. I crave it when I don't have it for a while and I grew up eating it all the time. Tofu has the wonderful characteristic of absorbing whatever sauce you cook it in. Tofu has great nutritional value as it is high in protein and very digestible. In Chinese Medicine, it is considered a cooling food so it is especially good served when the weather is hot.  It is thought to lubricate dryness, detoxifies and strengthens the stomach.  So, it is definitely worth eating and sometimes you just need to know how to cook it.

I often hear from people that they dislike the soft texture of tofu, but they are clearly not aware of the numerous textural variations that tofu manufacturers have created that mimic meat. You can buy tofu textured and flavored to be used as mock chicken and you can eat dishes made from it in Chinese Vegetarian restaurants. My personal favorite of these varieties is Tofu Skin which is skimmed off the top of the vats when they make tofu. You have probably seen Tofu Skin at Dim Sum restaurants as they often use it to wrap meat and vegetables.

Another variety of tofu I really like is pressed tofu. This can now be bought in many health food stores and you can actually make it at home as we used to do when I was a child. Just buy a carton of firm tofu and put it between paper towels, then newspapers and then weigh it all down with a heavy book until the water presses out in a few hours. The texture becomes quite firm and meaty. I usually buy my pressed tofu at our local Uwajimaya store - a wonderful Japanese grocery store in Seattle. My family calls this kind of tofu - "Tofu Kan" and we simply slice it into thin slivers, stir fry it and add a little soy sauce. We eat this for breakfast with rice and it is a wonderful way to start the day. My older son's favorite way with tofu it is to cook it with slivers of green onion, sliced Chinese Barbecue Pork or sliced fresh pork and sliced celery. It can also be made with a package of extra firm tofu cut into cubes. The texture will be different but the taste will still be great - but make sure that you cut the pork, celery and green onions into shorter smaller pieces. It's important for all the ingredients in a Chinese dish to be about the same size so they cook together well. This recipe is very simple and it's really good - we've converted a lot of tofu haters with this particular dish:

Tofu with Barbecue Pork

9 ounces pressed (often called dried tofu) or 14 oz container firm fresh tofu - sliced into shreds
4 green onions, cut into 2 inch inch slivers
3 stalks celery cut into two inch lengths and sliced into slivers
1/3 lb of Barbecue Pork (or sliced fresh pork marinated in small amount of rice wine and soy sauce)
2 Tablespoons cooking oil
1 - 2 Tablespoons Soy Sauce or Tamari
1/4 teaspoon black pepper

Heat oil in a frying pan or wok until hot. Add green onions and stir fry for just a few minutes. Add celery and tofu and stir fry for an additional 2 minutes. Then add in Barbecue Pork or fresh pork and stir fry for another few minutes until warmed through or cooked through for fresh pork and some of the tofu is very lightly browned. Add 1 Tablespoon of Soy Sauce and see if the tofu changes color. If it is too white, add another 1/2 Tablespoon or the additional full Tablespoon. The tofu should be lightly salty. Also add in the black pepper, stir to coat and serve with fresh steamed rice or Chinese Onion Pancakes.

Five Element Analysis

This is usually served as one of several dishes in a Chinese Meal so it is not meant to be completely balanced by itself. This dish consists of the Metal Element from the tofu along with the green onions. Pork is from the Water Element as is the soy sauce and celery is from the Fire Element. The Earth Element and the Wood Elements are missing. Onion Pancakes add the Wood Element from the wheat and any other green stir fried vegetable as another dish will add even more Wood. Earth is deficient however as serving it with rice brings in more Metal so I often serve Sesame Cucumber Salad with it (see previous post on 3/16) or have fruit for a light dessert to balance the meal.

1 comment:

  1. I honestly don't know any people who don't like tofu (maybe i just haven't asked around!) The recipe looks very healthy.

    And I'm very fascinated by this "Five Element Analysis"! I'd like to learn more about that (off to wikipedia!)