A Vegetarian Table For Two
Pan-Fried Tofu with Spinach, Pear, and Star Anise
This visually stunning dish also packs a real flavor punch. Even people who don’t normally like tofu feast on this dish, though you can substitute beef, if you must. If you can get your hands on an Asian pear, use it here. Asian pears actually more spherical than pear shaped. Green beans are also good in this instead of the spinach. Serve with Jasmine Rice.
1 block extra-firm tofu, 15 ounces, halved horizontally
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger, peeled
1 garlic clove, minced
1 fresh red chile, cut in paper-thin circles
3 whole star anise
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 pounds baby spinach
1 pear or Asian pear, sliced into thin wedges
Lay several layers of paper towels on a cutting board, then place the tofu squares on top, side by side. Cover the tofu with more paper towels and place a plate on top. Add a can or two to press down and drain out some of the water in the curd. This makes the tofu denser and meatier. Drain the tofu overnight to remove as much water as possible. If you don’t like the idea of tofu, portabello mushroom caps would be a good substitute.
In a large skillet, heat the peanut and sesame oils just to the smoking point. Fry the tofu on both sides, flipping occasionally with the spatula, until golden, about 8 minutes total. Remove the tofu from the pan and drain it on a plate lined with paper towels.
Using the same pan, sauté the ginger, garlic, chile, star anise, and peanuts-your kitchen will smell amazing! Ginger root is easily peeeled with a spoon. Freeze the extra ginger root for longterm storage. Don’t worry if you cannot cut the chile as thin as the recipe specifies; slicing it as thin as you can will be perfectly fine. It may be difficult to find star anise in your grocery store. Specialty spice stores, such as Penzeys Spice Co in Carytown, will have this item on hand. In a small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice together. Briefly toss the spinach in the pan, stirring just to wilt, no more than 30 seconds. Remove the spinach to a bowl, scraping the peanut mixture in there also. Put the pan back on the heat and heat the hoisin mixture. Combine the sauce with the spinach and divide between 2 bowls. Lay the pear slices and tofu on top.
Adapted from Tyler Florence’s “Real Kitchen”
Silver Dining has been a home chef since the first time his mom asked him to start dinner before she got home. He believes cooking should be fun and draws immense pleasure in seeing the satisfied faces of his guests. Find more inspiration on his personal blog “Chef Tell’s Kitchen.”Stay up to date on Richmond brews and more beer news on his Richmond Beermeister Blog.
In celebration of the final Harry Potter movie coming out, I decided to be brave and conjure up some butterbeer cupcakes.July 15, 2011
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