March 12, 2008

kitchen notes: oden & ma po tofu

Just a couple of notes to self:

- A while ago, i made some oden using the dried flavor packet you can buy at the Japanese markets. It was pretty meh. Today, i had some daikon to cook up, so i used another of the packets in a medium pot of water, but i amped it up with maybe 1/4 cup shoyu, a big splash of sake & a bigger splash of mirin. MUCH better.

- Tonight we made the Ma Po Tofu recipe from the Pei Mei cookbook volume 1. I didn't bother deepfrying the tofu first, nor did i have the required pork -- all i had was some fresh shiitake. So i just put a bunch of peanut oil into the big skillet, added the garlic & shiitake, fried them a while, then added some more peanut oil (a bit too much really) and the tofu. Then i added the spicy bean paste and soy sauce and let it all fry up for a while. Last went in the chicken broth, which i then set to boiling down. I ground the black pepper on top of the tofu and let it sit there to add flavor. The cornstarch slurry went in just at the end, when the broth was reduced but still entirely liquid. This came out VERY nice indeed, spicy and rich and with a bracing hit of fresh black pepper. The shiitake add a sweet flavor that is entirely lovely, and i would recommend this substitution for any vegetenarians wanting to make a Ma Po Tofu. I like the flavor of this at least as much as any restaurant version, and it goes together in a flash, presuming of course you have spicy bean paste in the house. Which you all should -- it's yummy and has a multitude of uses.

1 package tofu, cut in large cubes
sm package fresh shiitake, cut chunky
4 sm cloves garlic, cut rough
several tbsp peanut oil
2 tbsp spicy bean paste
2-3 tsp soy sauce
sprinkle of salt
1 cup chicken broth
lots of fresh ground black pepper
2 tsp cornstarch + 2 tsp water = slurry
chopped green onion (i didn't have any)

also it specified to drizzle sesame oil on each serving, but since i overdid it a little on the peanut oil, i skipped it. And yes, we ate it up without taking photos. sorry, y'all.

one other note: though it's not super spicy and has no szechuan peppercorns, and therefore perhaps is not strictly speaking an authentic szechuan recipe, the recipe from Pei Mei is very tasty. I may try goosing it a little szechuan-style next time, to see what happens.

Posted by foodnerd at March 12, 2008 07:10 PM
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