Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Me, Myself and I


With the majority of my family off frolicking around different parts of the globe, and my boyfriend overseas, also frolicking, I've recently found myself cooking a lot of 1 man meals.

I ask you to only feel a little bit sorry for me, because I actually think this is somewhat great news. I love having the complete freedom for cooking for me, for what I feel like eating or more importantly what I don't feel like eating. No longer do I have to fear rejection from my brother after offering up a meatless meal. Although, it does mean I am solely responsible to clean up the mess in the kitchen (since we go by a who ever cooks doesn't have to clean rule so it's win win for me most of the time) but I guess it's a small price to pay for pure food selfishness.

This dish is one of my favourites - vegetarian Ma Po Tofu. It is the quickest, easiest, cheapest and most deliciously heart warming meal you can make yourself. Traditionally, this Chinese staple is tofu and minced pork or beef mixed together in a spicy, thick sauce. I decided to omit the minced meat purely for lazy purposes and because tofu is enough for me. It's definitely not for the spice shy, as it hits you with heat from three different angles - ginger, chilli and fiery sichuan pepper. Yes, your nose will run. And yes, being snotty will be somewhat satisfying.

Definitely way better than those frozen ready meals (that claim to be "healthy") which are full of food colouring, preservatives and bucket loads of salt, I also reckon Ma Po Tofu has healing powers because last night I was feeling a tad under the weather and now I'm right as rain (couldn't help myself)...


Ma Po Tofu

Half a 300g container of silken tofu...or more depending on how hungry you are (do not get firm!)

1 red chilli or 1 teaspoon chilli flakes

1 teaspoon of sichuan peppercorns, bashed up in a mortar and pestle and mixed with a bit of sea salt

2 cloves garlic, finely grated or minced

1 large knob ginger, finely grated or minced

1 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine

1 tablespoon chilli sauce (the thick, asian type)

1 tablespoon kecap manis (or 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 teaspoon brown sugar)

1 teaspoon peanut oil

2 green onions, sliced into thick batons

1/2 a cup of water

Handful of coriander

To serve, broccolini and rice if desired

Pour peanut oil into a saucepan or wok, along with the green onions and grated ginger and garlic. Turn onto a medium heat and fry off for a few minutes being careful not to burn the garlic. Add the kecap manis, or soy sauce, the chilli sauce, the shaoxing wine and the water and leave to bubble away for a few moments. Now scoop the soft tofu into the liquid and turn the heat down to a simmer. Add the sichuan peppers, chilli or chilli flakes, and a handful of fresh coriander on top before serving over the broccolini and if you want, rice.

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