Tag Archives: tofu

KimChi Soup

Y’all, it is nasty outside in Philadelphia. It was cold all weekend, and then icy, and now it’s raining and grey and almost everyone is in not the best of moods. Maybe you, too, need a spicy Korean soup to cheer you up?

I made this kimchi soup based on a recipe from Bittman’s “How to Cook Everything Vegetarian” Kimche and tofu soup. A few changes – I used firm tofu that I had previously frozen instead of soft tofu, and I added a raw egg to the boiling soup after I put it in the bowl. Just make sure the soup is boiling when it goes in, and dunk that egg down into the broth, or spoon the broth over the egg so that it’s not RAW raw when the soup cools down enough for you to eat it. I also added a little leftover brown rice instead of cooking rice in the broth, and upped the kimchi since I didn’t have any spinach in the house. . Simple, spicy, delicious.

Tofu and King Oyster Mushrooms

I made a giant trip to H-Mart to stock-up on huge bottles (soy sauce, sweet soy, rice vinegar, sesame oil, olive oil, canola oil, chili) and of course came home with bags of vegetables. Oh H-Mart – you are so cheap, and you have such a selection, you lure me in every time. Trying to make the best use of the firm tofu in the fridge (I bought a 5 lb. container), bok choi and king oyster mushrooms that were blessedly on sale, I adapted this recipe into the meal above. I’m never adverse to adapting recipes – keeping what I like, tossing what I don’t, and always adding more garlic, ginger and spice. But it also makes plenty of sense to exchange vegetables you already have in the fridge (like my bok choi) for others (the carrots and broccoli called for in the recipe).

Tofu marinated in lemongrass and chili, pre-fried, and added at the last minute to fried king mushrooms, bok choi and a light coconut and chili oil broth. Served over left-over brown rice, with plenty of just blanched green onions. Delicious

Han Dynasty, or, a spice lover finally makes it to “handynasty”

Considering my deep and abiding love for spice, it’s amazing that it took me so long to make it to Han Dynasty, colloquially known as “handynasty.” I think it’s Old City location (versus Chinatown) threw me off, but when I went out of my way to make it in the door, bottle of crisp white wine in hand, I was not disappointed.

Many people are scared of the hot hot heat that is Schezuan, but don’t be afraid – Han has coded each menu item with a spice number. I have a pretty solid spice tolerance, but really, the “10” here didn’t kill me at all – just made me want more. This sultry dish was a “dry pot,” a metal bowl of vegetables and meat (sadly, the cooks refuse to substitute tofu) in hot chili oil with plenty of fresh chilis over a flame. In theory, the flame “dries out” the dish before it reaches your table. We didn’t find that to be the case, but it didn’t affect the deliciousness of the dish.

I had the pickled tofu which, coming in at a 5, made me concerned that it would be too tame. I asked our waiter to kick-up the spice quotient, and it came just perfect. On a side note, if you avoid pools delicious oil in your food, this is not the dish, or even the place for you. The oil helps to bring out the heat and flavor of the dried chilies, and is entirely necessary. That doesn’t mean that you need to drink the leftover pool at the bottom of your bowl.

After hearing so much praise about the Dan Dan noodles, I gave them a go and they were good – a spicy sort of cold sesame noodle, and definitely enough to share between two. The angels did not sing, but these noodles are certainly a step-up from a sesame noodles appetizer. With the addition of my companion’s chicken dumpling soup (which he deemed fantastic) we ended up taking piles of food home. It’s only fair to mention, at this point, that the prices are more than reasonable, and BYOB sweetens the deal.

I must, in good faith, warn you that the service was totally bizarre service. Different people were constantly arriving at the table to take our order (which one was our server? I don’t know) deliver or take things away, and check on our meal. Like, every 5 minutes. I was seated by an employee and then told by a different employees that my previous conversation didn’t count because employee #1 “doesn’t speak any English.” The food came out blazing fast – they’re just trying to get people in and out of the door. So YOU have to carefully pace your meal. Order one appetizer, then another, then wait away, then order your dinner. And try to ignore the distracted waitstaff and chefs fighting (and throwing dishes) in the kitchen.

Han Dynasty on Urbanspoon

King Soup, Vientiane

I can sing the praises of Vientiane’s affordable, delicious, vegetarian-friendly Laotian cuisine all the day long. I have never had a dish at this neighborhood BYOB that I didn’t like, and often I love whatever I ordered so much that I get in a rut, and can only order that exact same thing for months (sometimes years). So it’s a big deal when I break the mold and order something different. But this King Soup caught me eye – it was exactly what I wanted on a cool and rainy night. A coconut milk curry base with noodles, fried tofu, plenty of chilis and all the toppings of a traditional Pho. Perfect. Of course, I’ve had it twice again since I took this photo!

Su Xing House Vegetarian Chinese

Tucked away on Sansom Street in Center City, Su Xing offers a huge menu of all vegetarian Chinese food. The prices are more than reasonable (and even cheaper at lunch), the portions huge, and the staff polite and helpful. I stopped in on an early evening between the Opera and few hours at work to enjoy a nice meal and read the paper. I started with the hot and sour soup, which I am rarely able to resist. Su Xing‘s hot and sour is likely different than others you have tried. It’s not at all viscous or gloppy, and the heat comes towards the end of the bite, bright and sharp.

It can be difficult for me to make decisions when I have so many options – I’m just not used to an all-vegetarian menu – but can usually narrow it down by one of two ways. 1. Is it spicy? 2. Does it have mushrooms? If I can’t have both, I have to decide which I want more that day. Spicy usually wins out, as it did this day. I ordered the spicy garlic eggplant with tofu with brown rice. The sauce was almost delicate, yet still had kick and plenty of garlic. I ate just over half and then packed the rest up for a great lunch later in the week.

Su Xing House on Urbanspoon

Mr. Lee’s Lemongrass Braised Long Beans, tofu with shallots, garlic & sweet soy

I picked up some long beans at H-Mart last weekend, and I knew that I needed to use them soon. They certainly aren’t in season, and can get slimy fast. So I trimmed the ends and cut them into 1.5 inches pieces, and pulled out my trusty “Cradle of Flavor” by James Oseland – a great cookbook and general information source about the cooking of the spice islands. I had some new lemongrass, too, so I made Mr. Lee’s longbeans. Like almost all Indonesian cooking, this recipe starts with a samble – a sauce made from shallots, chilis, sugar, and other ingredients based on the recipe. The samble is fried first, to release its flavor, and then the beans are added. I tend to make my sambals “rustic” and don’t worry too much about how smooth they are, which results in a “chunkier” appearance after cooking.

The tofu was a bit of a disaster, maybe because I picked up the firm tofu instead of the extra-firm, or because I initially had the heat too high, but I kind of destroyed it, visually. But fried with garlic, shallots, sweet soy sauce and a dash of salt, the flavor was just fine.

A Chard and Tofu “Saag Paneer”

I can hardly tell you how beautiful my rainbow swiss chard is. Still growing strong in my raised bed, I look at it longingly everyday, but usually feel compelled to eat some of the vegetables from CSA languishing the refrigerator. Not tonight. In the mood for some saag paneer, but without paneer on-hand or spinach, I decided to do a little recipe sleuthing on the internet. Surely others have made similar substitutes before? I discovered that chard, turnip and other dark leafy greens are frequent substitutes for spinach in “saag.” And vegans substitute tofu for paneer all the time. I used a combination of recipes from epicurious and the webblog “Tigers and Strawberries,” which used a more complex spice mixture. While I might not have created the most authentic version of this dish, I was able to use the chard and the last of the hot thai chilies in my garden, along with the tofu in the fridge. AND to make use of the green tomatoes from my CSA in this sweet and spicy chutney from Food in Jars.

Pre-Movie dinner at Banana Leaf

I’ve eaten one of the most satisfying meals of my life floating on a restaurant boat under twinkling colored lights in the middle of a cloud forest. So I have a special spot for Malaysian food. In the middle of a rainstorm, trying to grab a Chinatown dinner near the Trocadero so that we could still make it The Balcony’s showing of Hot Tub Time Machine, I dashed into Banana Leaf. Often I avoid Banana Leaf because with a HUGE menu, they manage to offer only a few vegetarian options, and they aren’t that exciting. Luckily, they are willing to substitute tofu for shrimp, which give you a few more options. Above, one of the dishes I always enjoy, Mee Siam. Stir-fried vermicilli with tofu, fried eggs (instead of shrimp) and bean sprouts with chili sauce and a sliced boiled egg on top. Greasy, full of flavor, and a giant portion.

We also ordered Green Nasi Lemak, a coconut friend rice with vegetables, and again we subbed in tofu for the shrimp. While it was a pretty pale color, this dish paled in comparison to the Mee Siam. Just not that exciting. Some chili sauce helped. Which brings me, perhaps, to the crux of the issue. The menu it too large, they should ditch the entire Japanese section, and focus on the dishes they do really well. Of course, I’d love some more vegetarian dishes, too! Banana Leaf can be a little hit-or-miss, but its extremely affordable, in a convenient neighborhood, and you just might order a dish you love!
Special coconut rice fried with mixed vegetables, shrimp in ginger sauce.

Stir-Fried Cabbage and Lettuce, Tofu

Stir-Fried Cabbage, Lettuce, and Tofu

Stir-Fried Cabbage, Lettuce, and Tofu

The Philadelphia area has a bumper crop of lettuce right now, and frankly, I’m getting sick of it. Not that I don’t like lettuce – I do, I do – but this sort of classic green leaf variety is about my least favorite. What do? Shake it. This meal was very loosely based on the Stir-Fried Garlic Lettuce recipe from The Breath of a Wok. I also had a bunch of cabbage, so I added some of that, used a whole bunch of CSA garlic scapes instead regular old white garlic, and added tofu, fried in a bit of chili oil with salt and pepper. Really, it was remarkable. You could serve it over rice, or just eat a giant bowl all on your own.

Stir-Fried Cabbage, Lettuce and Tofu
serves 4

4 tablespoon Shaoxing rice wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

2 Tbs. chili sesame oil
1 12 oz. block firm, organic tofu, cubed
salt and pepper

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
6 garlic scapes, diced
3 cloves of white garlic, thinly sliced
4 cups of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 medium head of green lettuce, sliced
chili sesame oil

Mix all of the sauce ingredients in a small bowl. In a large wok, heat the sesame oil on medium-high heat until a drop of water sizzles in the pan. Add the tofu cubes, stirring quickly to coat in oil. Turn every few minutes, until lightly browned. Salt and pepper generously, stir, and put tofu to the side (draining on paper towels if desired). In the same, hot wok, heat the vegetable oil. Add the garlic scapes, stirring to coat, and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 minutes. Add the sliced garlic cloves, and cook until they barely brown – about 2 minutes. Add the cabbage, toss well to coat, and cover the wok. Uncover and turn the cabbage every few minutes, replacing the lid to steam in between turn, until the cabbage begins to soften and wilt. Add the tofu and toss. Add the lettuce and sauce then lightly toss. Cook until the lettuce just begins to wilt (one or two minutes) and the tofu is heated through. Remove from heat immediately. There should still be additional sauce left in the pan (if not, add a little extra soy sauce and rice wine). Serve over rice, drizzling lightly with chili sesame oil.

Late Spring Pho

Late Spring Pho

Late Spring Pho

Kate was sick. “I just want something salty and spicy and soup,” she said. I had more vegetables than I knew what to do with, so I offered to make some soup and bring it over. Spicy and salty – obviously had to been Asian influenced. And I had snap peas and carrots and mushroom and cabbage and broccoli and jalapenos – perfect for Pho. The cabbage, broccoli, snap peas, and green onions came from my CSA, the mushroom selection and tomato from the Fair Food Farmstand, and the Soy Boy tofu from Mariposa Co-op.

Late Spring Pho
serves 4

5 cups homemade vegetable broth
1/4 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup rice vinegar
2 Tbs. chili sesame oil
1 tsp. ground white pepper

1 pound extra firm tofu, pressed
1 tsp. sesame oil

5 cremini mushrooms, sliced
5 shitake mushroom caps, sliced
1 large wood ear mushroom, sliced
1 tsp. sesame oil

8 oz. dried rice stick noodles

2 cups of napa cabbage, thinly sliced
1 cup snap peas
1 carrot, grated or cut into matchsticks
1 head broccoli, divided into small florets
1 large tomatoes, cubed

1 jalapeno, sliced
4 greens onions, sliced
fresh cilantro, if desired

Combine broth, oil, soy, vinegar, and white pepper in a large pot. Bring to a low boil. In a separate saucepan, lightly fry the tofu cubes, and place to the side. In the same saucepan, add another teaspoon of sesame oil, and lightly fry the mushrooms. Place the rice stick noodles in a medium bowl and cover with boiling water. Add the shredded cabbage to the soup broth and bring back to boil. When the cabbage begins to wilt, add the snap peas and boil for one minute. Add the broccoli, carrots, tomato, mushrooms and tofu. Cook for one minute, then turn off the heat and cover the pot. Drain the noodles, now softened, and stir into the soup. Ladle into bowls and garnish with onions, jalapenos, and cilantro. Add additional chili sauce, to taste.