Saturday, January 28, 2012

Sweet and Sour Tofu

At the last library sale, I picked up a copy of Kosher Cookery, Classics and Contemporary by, Frances R. AvRutic. I only glanced at it quickly when making the purchase, but upon returning home I began marking off the dishes I couldn't wait to try. Last evening's dinner featured three, and they were all fantastic.

I wasn't sure how my family would react to a tofu dish that mimicked Polynesian chicken I remembered from the 60's. Mr. ETB reacted by asking where the Pu Pu Platter was, but we'll forgive him that as he probably just misses the Kowloon. Danny, who isn't fond of pineapple ate happily enough, though he did push the pineapple chunks to the side of the plate. Fair enough.

Cornstarch, and pineapple juice rarely make appearances in my cooking, much less together, but I have to admit, this was a really lovely dinner served over rice. I can see making it again, but probably not regularly-I don't want to start spoiling them or anything-before you know it, they'll expect a Pu Pu Platter.

I added baby corn and water chestnuts because i had them, and it seemed to round out that retro feel I was getting from the pineapple. I made a few other changes as well, and will note them in the directions.

1 lb. Firm Tofu (I used extra firm)
6 tablespoons oil, divided (I used slightly less)
1 large green pepper sliced into 2 inch long strips
1 large carrots, sliced thinly (I used three)
1 large onion, finely diced (I used a red onion and sliced it thin)

For the sauce:

1 tin (20 ounces) pineapple chunks in unsweetened juice (reserve juice)
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup molasses or honey (I used Golden Syrup)
1/4 cup vinegar (I used cider vinegar)
3 tablespoons ketchup
1 garlic clove, minced
1/4 cup cornstarch dissolved completely in 1/3 cup water
3/4-1 teaspoon dried ginger to taste]

I did quite a bit of this recipe ahead and then simply re-warmed the tofu and vegetables before adding the sauce and cooking it together. Tofu can be fried up to a day ahead, and it certainly goes faster to have all your vegetables cut and ready to dump in a wok just before dinner. Keep in mind, you can even purchase already fried cakes of tofu if you're pressed for time.

Press the tofu free of water between dishtowels and a weight. A jar filled with water will work. You'll need to change the towels several times, but it is worth it when you go to fry the tofu. The recipe has you slice the tofu into slabs, but gives the option of cutting cubes, which is what I did. Fry about half of them at a time. You'll need half the oil for this. I used corn oil as I like it for this type of cookery, but go with what you prefer.

Once the tofu has been fried, remove it from the pan and add a bit more oil. I did not need another 3 tablespoons, but your wok may be less seasoned, etc. so keep it handy in the event you do.

Heat the pan and cook the carrots, onion, green pepper, and any other vegetables you choose in the pan until just softened, but still rather crisp. At that point, you can either proceed, or combine it with the tofu and chill it until you are ready to make dinner.

Drain the tin of pineapple and reserve the liquid. Toss the pineapple in with the tofu and vegetables. Mix together the ingredients for the sauce, whisking well to make sure everything is dissolved. Re-heat the vegetables and tofu in the pan slightly, and add the sauce. Over medium high heat, cook, stirring (A wooden spoon will prevent the tofu breaking as easily as a metal spatula) until it thickens. Serve hot over fluffy white rice.

You'll probably want a few dashes of hot sauce on this, but maybe that's just me.

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