I tend to cook with many of the same ingredients over and over again. Tomatoes, garlic, chili powder, onions, beans, curry, and chicken or turkey. Don’t get me wrong, these are in my rotation for a reason, but I also want to keep expanding the flavors that I know how to work with. Last month Lisa at Good Grief Cook (also a Chopped Champion! Aye. How wildly impressive!) suggested that I buy The Flavor Bible. Obviously I took her up on this and I LOVE it. The book begins with a simple equation “Flavor = taste + mouthfeel + aroma + “the X factor.”” and then goes on to say “Our taste buds can perceive only four basic tastes: sweet, salty, sour, and bitter. The essence of great cooking is to bring these four tastes into balanced harmony to create deliciousness. It’s that simple – it’s that difficult” – Karen Page.
I’ve been digging through the back of my pantry recently looking for ingredients to inspire new dishes and came across some sesame oil. The book suggested 38 flavors and/or dishes that work with sesame oil and I landed on garlic, soy sauce, asian cuisine, stir fry and vegetables.
That then led me to this recipe which I was eager to use fairly closely. Some research led me to feel ok substituting Thai chili paste for the Guochujang. I’ll buy it in the future, but for now was eager to keep using up things that I already have to keep the grocery bill to ‘necessities.’
On Monday night I was excited to begin but upon opening the brussels sprouts I found an army of little travelers nestled inside of the sprouts. So.. on to plan b! I found some broccoli in the drawer and continued on.
This meal was easy to create, and we ended up making some couscous as a grain and then doubling the sauce. Yum!
- 14 oz package of tofu – sliced in cubes
- 2 medium heads of broccoli
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 Tablespoons Thai Chili Paste
- 1/4 cup water
- 1 Tablespoon soy sauce
- 1 8 oz can water chestnuts
- 2 teaspoons sesame oil
Steps and Notes:
- Dry the tofu (paper towel under and on top, then place a heavy pot on top). Let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
- Note: this should be done when the tofu is still in a big cube, then cut it into squares after
- In a wok, fry the tofu in oil (we used sunflower) – turning occasionally until browned. (about 8 minutes). When cooked, put on a side plate and wipe out the wok.
- Prepare the sauce in a side bowl by combining the chili paste, water, and soy sauce. Whisk together.
- In the wok, saute the garlic in oil until it becomes fragrant (about 30 seconds) and then add the broccoli. Cook for 3 minutes. Add the sauce and c water chestnuts and cook for 3 more minutes allowing the broccoli to soften to your taste.
- Finally, add the sesame oil and combine.
- Season with salt and pepper, and serve over a grain (optional) – we went with couscous.
Thoughts for Next Time:
- Replace the broccoli with brussels as called for in the original recipe
- Add different veggies like baby corns, green beans, baby bok choy, cabbage, snow peas