Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sizzling Tofu in Oyster Sauce

In my fried “tokwa” (fried tofu) post earlier, I already provided some interesting facts and details about tofu, the healthy food from China which has gained wide acceptance all over the world over the years. Since I have learned to like it so much as well, I should have other ways of preparing it. One of the several ways I cook it is with oyster sauce. While I usually do it in sizzling plate, I don’t have one here so I just have to prepare everything very hot when I arrange them on a plate to somehow make them sizzle from their own heat, tofu and sauce, when combined.

The other important ingredient in this recipe is oyster sauce. Sorry but there is no substitute, otherwise we need to change the title. :) Oyster sauce is a viscous dark brown sauce commonly used in Chinese, Filipino and Thai cuisines. It is particularly common in Cantonese food. It is prepared from oysters, brine, and “umami” flavor enhancers and was invented by the owner of the company Lee Kum Kee in Guandong, China. The company continues to produce oyster sauce to this day along with a wide variety of Asian condiments.

Oyster sauce adds a savory flavor to many dishes, making it an ideal choice for flavoring meat, seafood, vegetables and yes, the basically bland tofu. The sauce is a staple for much Chinese and Filipino family-style cooking. It is commonly used in noodle stir-fries, such as Chinese chow mien and Filipino “pansit miki” or “pansit canton”. It is also found in popular Chinese-American dishes such as beef with stir-fried vegetables. Oyster sauce can also be used as a topping for some dishes as well.

The savory flavor of oyster sauce is perfect for tofu that depends to other ingredients for the final taste of the resulting dish. This is why I find this tofu preparation close to perfect combination. To prepare this savory tofu dish, we need about 2 blocks of firm tofu just like what I have here:

To cook the dish, we need several ingredients which I grouped into 2 categories for easy remembering. The sauce ingredients needed are: ¼ cup oyster sauce, ¼ cup soy sauce, 2 cups broth, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp corn starch or corn flour, ½ tsp ground pepper and 1 tsp sesame oil.

In a bowl, combine all the sauce ingredients and stir to evenly mix everything and attain a slightly thick sauce that looks like this:

The vegetable ingredients needed are 4 gloves garlic, peeled and minced, 1 pc large onion, peeled and minced, 1 pc small carrot, peeled and minced, 2 tbsp minced celery, stalk and leaves combined, 1 pc mild chili pepper, minced, 2 tbsp minced green onion leaves and ½ to ¾ cup minced mushroom which is important but unfortunately, I don’t have at the moment.

In a large pan or wok, heat about 2 tbsp of vegetable oil and sauté garlic, followed by onion. Add the carrot when the onion is translucent. Continue cooking then add the celery when the carrot is cooked through, followed by the mushroom (if using) and green onions.

When all veggies are already cooked, pour the sauce mixture. Continue cooking while stirring to have a smooth consistency. Cook until the sauce thickens. Transfer the sauce to a bowl and set aside.

In the meantime cook the tofu. If you have sizzling plate, heat the plate in the stove until very hot that droplets of water will disappear in an instant. Add some oil and cook the tofu by slightly browning, first on one side then on the underside. Then pour the sauce to create that wonderful sizzling-smoking effect.

Since I don’t have sizzling plate here, I slightly fry the tofu in a small pan. Then I arrange it on a plate and pour the still hot sauce on top. As I said above, this is better with the sizzling plate as the cooking with the sauce and the tofu will continue with the residual heat. Browning the underside and creating a slightly smoky flavor. But without it, the dish will still be sumptuous and delicious. :)

Serve immediately. Rich, tasty and healthy. Enjoy!…. c“,)

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