Ma Po Tofu
4 Bocaburger patties, diced
2 tablespoons oil
1 inch fresh ginger, sliced thin
2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
3 tablespoons fermented black beans
1 red bell pepper, bite-sized chunks
1 green bell pepper, bite-sized chunks
1 yellow onion, bite-sized chunks
3 tablespoons vegetarian stir-fry sauce
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 cup water
2 teaspoons corn starch
3 tablespoons water
1 block tofu, firm
1/4 cup green onions, chopped
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
If you chop everything ahead of time and have it ready when you start, this dish can be made in fifteen minutes! You can use any brand of vegetarian burgers for this recipe, but we found that the Bocaburger brand has the most similarity to ground beef taste, if that is what you want. Thaw the Boca patties completely and dice them into bite-sized pieces. Heat a skillet over medium heat, and fry the Bocaburger patty pieces in oil until golden brown. Add the fresh ginger and the garlic. The fine cut julienne ginger slices are a great way to cook with ginger. The ginger lover will appreciate the flavorful bursts of tangy ginger, while the kids can see and remove the ginger if it’s not their fancy.
To prepare the fermented beans, rinse them in warm water and drain. Put them in to a small bowl (or a mortar and pestle if you have it available) and crush the beans with the back of a spoon until they become a thick, black paste, then add them to the skillet. Add the chopped red and green peppers and the onions and stir all everything.
Now you will begin adding the flavors to the skillet. Add the stir-fry sauce, the soy sauce, and the sesame oil. Stir well and sauté for about 2 minutes. Allow the bottom of the pan to form a tasty, crusty layer of sauce and vegetable juices. Deglaze the pan by adding water, which will pick up all the flavors that are caramelizing on the edges of the skillet. Scrape the bottom of the pan with your spatula as you add the water so that the crusty bits dissolve.
Thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry. In a separate bowl, mix the cornstarch powder with water and whisk until smooth. Add this mixture slowly to the skillet. Make the sauce on the thick side because when you add the tofu, the water moisture from the tofu will slightly thin the sauce. Simmer the sauce in the skillet for a few minutes until thickened.
Drain the water from the tofu by squeezing it gently between paper towels. You can simply chop the tofu into cubes or crumble it directly into the skillet. For a fancier presentation, slice the tofu block lengthwise into 1 inch thick slices, and then cut each square into triangles. Add the tofu to the skillet and stir gently just until the tofu is covered in the sauce. Simmer for another 5 minutes to give the tofu a chance to absorb the flavors of the sauce. Just before serving, mix in the chopped green onions and cilantro. The fresh herbs add lot to balance the flavor of the sauce. Serve over rice pilaf.
Brown Rice Pilaf
2 cups cooked brown rice
2 stalks green onion, chopped
2 tablespoons cilantro, chopped
1 clove garlic, fine chopped
1 jalapeno, chopped optional
This is a quick way to add flavor to rice without taking the time to make traditional fried rice. Don’t be afraid of adding the garlic raw. If you add it to the rice right after it is cooked, the hot rice will take the edge off of the raw garlic. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and toss lightly. You can also prepare this no-fat rice dish a head of time and refrigerate, then reheat in the microwave before serving.