Sunday, July 12, 2009

Whip It Up: Week 2: Guilty Pleasure

That's right, a guilty pleasure. In regards to this, I think most people would automatically jump to dessert. The really rich, ooey-gooey stuff. Probably involving lots of chocolate, maybe some peanut butter. Or brown butter. But then, I've never been much of a dessert person.

I'm also not much of a chain restaurant person. I like eating local, supporting local business and seeing what the best chefs in town are capable of creating for my own gastronomic pleasure. And then there's the one food dish that I crave far more often than anyone should crave something from a national chain.

PF Chang's Vegetarian Lettuce Wraps (this version on Recipeezaar)
Cooking Sauce
1 tbsp hoison sauce
1 tbsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tbsp dry sherry (I used an open bottle of red table wine)
2 tbsp oyster sauce (omitted because I could not find vegetarian oyster sauce)
2 tbsp water
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
1 tsp corn starch

1 tsp corn starch
2 tsp dry sherry (same as above)
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
1 tsp Chinese chili sauce (I use Sambal Olek)
2 tsp water

2 tbsp sesame oil
1 c baked tofu (recipe used below), diced
1 tsp fresh minced ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 green onions, minced
1/4 large red onion, small diced
4 oz bamboo shoots, diced
4 oz water chestnuts, diced
1 8oz package cellophane noodls (could. not. find. Help!!)
1 head ice burg lettuce (or your wrapping lettuce of choice)

Spicy Sauce

1 tsp rice vinegar
1 tsp soy sauce
1 tsp dry mustard (Coleman's)
1 tbsp water
1 tsp Chinese chili sauce

While the tofu is baking...

Mix cooking sauce in bowl and set aside.

For the spicy sauce, mix the dry mustard and water until well combined and smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and set aside. I ended up adding about another tablespoon of soy sauce.

In a medium bowl, make the marinade and set aside. Prep all of your ginger, garlic, green and red onion, bamboo and water chestnuts. When the tofu is done baking (if not done ahead) dice and add to the marinade. Stir until coated well and let sit for 15 minutes.

Heat a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the oil and stir fry the tofu for 2-3 minutes. Remove from pan and set aside.

Add the ginger, garlic and green and red onion; stir-fry for about a minute. Add the bamboo and water chestnuts; stir-fry for another 2 minutes. Return tofu to the wok, add the cooking sauce. Cook until thickened, about 2 minutes.

Place cellophane noodles on a platter and pour the tofu mixture over the noodles. Serve with lettuce and spicy sauce.


Baked Tofu (recipe found here)

1 lb extra firm tofu, drained and pressed
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp low sodium soy sauce
2 tsp olive oil
juice of 1 lemon
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 c vegetable broth (I used chicken. the ppk vegan would be mad)
1/4 c white wine (I didn't have any. replaced with broth)

Preheat oven to 400

Add the dry ingredients of the marinade to a small goal. Mash a bit to release the flavors better. Add wet ingredients, combine well.

Cut tofu into 8ths. I did this by cutting the long way. I might do it differently next time for slightly thicker pieces of tofu. Pour some of the marinade into a 9x15 baking pan. (or the cookie sheet with a rim that I used) Dredge tofu in the marinade and place in pan in a single layer. Pour remaining marinade over the tofu slices. Make sure some garlic and lemon zest sit on top of each slice. Cover.

Bake for 30 minutes. Remove tin foil, flip the tofu and continue baking for another 20 minutes. Remove from over and cool a little before serving (or you know, dicing and putting in the marinade)

Was it easy? Surprisingly so. There are a lot of ingredients, but most are already pantry staples for me. Seriously people, if chili sauce and soy sauce are not a part of your pantry, they should be.

Was it good? Yes, it was good. However, though close... it wasn't quite PF Chang's. So I will keep looking for recipes, playing tweaking and trying. And until I get it right. Mr Feinstein (or whatever supremely Jewish name that the F stands for) will continue to get my money.

As for the baked tofu. I tried some out of the recipe. It was okay. I couldn't really taste anything. Next time, if I use the same recipe, I'll try it with the wine. And add salt and pepper. I was surprised it didn't call for any, but figured I'd never made baked tofu, so what the hell did I know. Apparently, something.

Would you make it again? See above. If I didn't want the PF Chang's version this would be very good and certainly made again. And I will try again, just maybe not this exact version.

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