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Monday, March 7, 2011

Pan-Fried Tofu with Woodears and Gai Lan


I have a confession to make; I dislike cooking with tofu so I rarely do. Strange for a vegetarian, no? Thus after making the homemade extra firm tofu and getting tired of eating it with soy sauce or salt n' pepper, I stored the remaining chunks in the fridge...and I had no idea what to do with it. Usually with my store bought traditional tofu, I make miso soup or eat it in hot pot. That's as far as my imagination goes with tofu. Being that the tofu I made was extra firm, I was faced with an even bigger lack of imagination. Fortunately, my mom enjoys cooking with tofu. She deep-fries and pan-fries, and boils or stews, or mushes the tofu to make savory pies and spring roll fillings. Her skills with tofu completely surpasses mine (clearly). Today, she sliced the chunks of tofu I stored into small, rectangular pieces and pan fried them with garlic then tossed it with blanched gai lan and woodear mushrooms. Wood ear mushrooms have a very crisp texture and is one of my favorite kinds of edible fungi. It's name is derived from how it grows out of trees or decaying logs, resembling ears in the wood. This vegetarian creation is so full of flavor and the tofu's crispy golden exterior was fabulous! Brava, Mom!

1-2 bunches of gai lan, cut into bite sized portions,washed and then blanched
2-3 rehydrated woodears, cleaned and cut into bite size  portions
1 cup extra firm tofu, sliced into rectangles or cubes
3 tsp minced garlic
5 tbsp oil or butter
2 tsp mushroom granules
3 tsp soy sauce
2 tsp sesame oil (opt.)
salt and pepper to taste

Heat oil in a skillet and brown garlic. Add in tofu slices, browning each side to desired crispness.
Add in woodears and gently mix. Add in gai lan and remaining ingredients, gently mix on medium to low heat until all the flavours are infused and to your liking.
Serve with steamed rice and enjoy!!


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