Here’s another adaptation from my favorite (and classic) Chinese book from Craig Claiborne and Virginia Lee. I add tofu to my diet less frequently these days, blamed to some (and only some) health arguments, but include it here as a bland flavor turned assertive and memorable.
That said, dark soy sauce is nearly impossible to find outside of Asian supermarkets, though I finally did. You can use regular soy sauce otherwise. Skip MSG and sugar entirely. For veggies you can try all sorts of thing; I thought green beans were especially good. Lightly steam whatever veggies you decide separately from the pork dish and add everything together at the end.
This recipe is as much about history as health to me, and I’m happy to remember my decades of this spicy home-cooked meal with my wife and kids.
Spicy Pork and Tofu
- 1 pound firm tofu, sliced into ½ inch pieces
- 1 pound ground pork
- 1 tbs plus 1 tsp chili paste with garlic
- 1 tbs plus 1 tsp dark soy sauce
- ¼ cup coconut oil
- 2 tbs finely diced fresh ginger
- 2 tbs finely diced minced garlic
- ½ cup chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 tbs Szechwan peppercorn
- ½ cup chopped scallions
- 1 tbs cornstarch
- 2 tbs water
- 1 tbs sesame oil
- Fresh cilantro as garnish
- Quinoa or brown rice, according to your desire
- Green beans
First, cook the quinoa or brown rice, typically between 15 and 30 minutes.
While that is underway, partially cook the green beans (or other vegetables) in a little water. You want to cook them just barely before draining them and then rinsing until cool. You will reheat them later as you complete the dish with all the other foods.
If necessary and you have it, place the peppercorns in a small skillet and cook over moderate heat, shaking the skillet until they are roasted, then grind in a spice grinder. Set aside one teaspoon (or potentially more) for this recipe, and keep the rest for another use. You can also use other types of pepper.
Blend together the pork, chili paste with garlic and dark (or regular) soy sauce.
Heat the oil in a wok or skillet and add the pork mixture. Cook, stirring constantly to separate the strands, until barely cooked. Add the ginger and garlic and cook briefly. Add the broth and cook one minute.
Add the tofu and stir gently. Cook just to heat through, about two minutes. Add the peppercorn powder, scallions and cooked green beans (or other vegetable). Blend together the corn starch and water and add it, stirring gently. When the dish is thickened, serve to individual plates with a splash of sesame oil and garnished with fresh cilantro.