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Usually people just email me compliments and comments on the recipes
I post here, but a few days ago a certain lurker on this newsgroup
called me up and said "hey, the spicy braised tofu recipe looks
great! I can't wait to try it, so I'll be over wednesday with a
bottle of wine!" Since she has a certain amount of power over
me (something about having the negatives :-) I had no choice but
to invite a couple of other friends over and to slave over a hot
stove for hours, quaffing fine wine and turning large cold vegetables
into small hot vegetables.

The resulting meal generated the usual cacophony of belches and
other sounds of gustatory satisfaction, so it only seems fair to
share the menu with you guys...

The menu included:
Fried Rice (same ol' same ol')
Spicy Braised Tofu
Asparagus in Black Bean Sauce
A fine assortment of 8-10 year-old cabernets and merlots

So pop a cork, heat a wok, and let's get cooking!

Asaparagus in Black Bean Sauce

1 lb. fresh asparagus, cut into 1-1/2" lengths
1 can sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 can straw mushrooms, drained
2-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp minced ginger
2 tbs spicy black bean sauce
2 tbs vegetarian oyster sauce
splash of marsala wine or cooking sherry
peanut oil

Heat the wok, add a splash of oil, heat. Add garlic and ginger,
stir for about 30 seconds. Add the asparagus and
stir-fry for a couple of minutes; add the water chestnuts,
stir a couple more minutes; add the mushrooms and a splash
of marsala or sherry, stir two more minutes. Add the black bean
sauce and oyster sauce, stir for another minute. Set aside, and cook
the next two dishes.


Spicy Braised Tofu (repost, probably a bit different)

1 lb tofu, split, pressed for about 45 minutes, and cut into 1" squares
3 zucchini, split and sliced for stir-fry
2 carrots, sliced for stir-fry (I do a decorative cut)
1/2 can babmoo shoots
3 tbs sate oil (hot oil)
4 serrano chiles, seeds and diced
5 cloves garlic
1 tbs. minced fresh ginger
1 tbs. brown miso paste
1-1/2 tbs. corn starch
1/4 tsp chinese 5-spice
2 tbs. soy sauce
2 cups water
splash of sherry
peanut oil
sesame oil

To press the tofu, split the block lengthwise; layer a few paper
towels on a plate or other flat surface, top with another paper
towel or two and another plate, and place a weight on top (e.g.
a gallon jug of your favorite brandy). You can press it for anywhere
from 30 minutes to several hours depending on how dense you want it.

Dissolve cornstarch in a little bit of warm water; add the
miso paste and dissolve. Add the 5-spice, soy, and water,
and set aside.

Heat the wok, add 2 tbs peanut oil and 3 tbs sate oil, plus a couple
of dashes of sesame oil, heat. Add garlic, chiles, and ginger, stir for
30 seconds. Add the tofu, and braise for about 5 minutes, turning once.
Add the zucchini, stir for two minutes; add the carrots,
2 minutes; add the bamboo shoots and a splash of sherry, 2 minutes.
Stir the sauce mixture, pour it over the mass, and stir until the
sauce thickens.


Chuck's Standard Fried Rice (vegan or ovo)

1-1/2 cups (raw measure) calrose or jasmine rice, cooked
6 cloves of garlic, minced
2 thin slices of ginger, minced
1/3 cup frozen peas
1/2 can bamboo shoots
1/2 can water chestnuts, sliced
1 handful snow peas
2 handsful bean sprouts
2 eggs (optional)
1 bunch scallions (green onions), chopped
whatever else seems like a good idea at the time
splash of light soy sauce

Beat the eggs, heat the wok, scramble the eggs and set them aside.

When the wok is *really* hot, add 1/4 cup peanut oil. When the oil
is about to smoke, add garlic and ginger, toss for 30 seconds, then
add the rice. Toss for a few minutes, then add one ingredient at a time
and toss each for about a minute before adding the next. Go roughly
in the order above. Pour on about 2 Tbs of light soy, stir well. Add the eggs
on top (optional), add white pepper to taste, and serve.


These dishes are fairly spicy, so it takes a fairly hearty wine
to take on the flavors of the food. Copious amounts are recommended
by a panel of unbiased, if slightly inebriated, tasters.



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