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Braised Tofu Stir Fry (Vegetarian)

My late grandmother was a huge fan of braising: tofu, pork, fish, chicken, you name it. In Mandarin, the words "hong shao" translates literally into "red braised", which generally refers to food cooked slowly and simmered for a long time.

When I saw this recipe, it reminded me of another dish my grandmother would make frequently. I made a few changes to the recipe to reflect how my grandmother made it. I pan-fried the tofu until it was golden brown and used different vegetables than requested for in the recipe. I would highly recommend pan frying the tofu until it is golden brown; otherwise, the tofu will fall apart when you stir fry it. If you are using a non-stick pan, it will also take longer to pan-fry the tofu than in a wok. As for the vegetables, you can use any vegetables you have on hand such as thinly sliced carrots, snow peas, sugar peas, celery or sui choy.

This recipe was definitely a winner in my books. The little man preferred the Chinese Braised Stuffed Tofu as it is more flavorful, easier to spear with chopsticks (he's learning quickly!) and tastes the least like tofu (which I suspect is the reason why he was not a fan of this dish). Next time, I will try using deep fried tofu instead of medium firm tofu and switch up the vegetables to see if it will help change my little man's mind (bell peppers are not his favorite).

1 package medium firm tofu (2 blocks)
5 shitake mushrooms, fresh or dry
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 green bell pepper, julienned
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced

1-1/2 cups vegetable or chicken stock
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1/2 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tsp dark soy sauce
1 tbsp shaoxing wine (Chinese cooking wine)
1/2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt

Cornstarch Slurry
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp water

1. If using dried shitake mushrooms, soak it in a bowl of hot water. Cover the bowl with a plate and soak for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, wash the shitake mushrooms thoroughly under running water. Slice the shitake mushrooms into thin slices.

2. Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch thick slices.

3. Heat a skillet over medium-high heat or a wok over high heat. Pour in the vegetable oil.

4. Add the tofu in a single layer. Sear each side until it is golden brown.

5. In a bowl, mix the vegetable stock, oyster sauce, sesame oil, soy sauce, shaoxing wine, sugar and salt.

6. Pour in the stock mixture, add in the garlic and sliced shitake mushrooms.

7. When the mixture comes to a boil, reduce heat to medium, cover with a lid and simmer for 5 minutes.

8. In a small bowl, mix the cornstarch and the water. Set aside.

9. Remove the lid and add in the vegetables and cornstarch slurry. Gently stir the tofu, making sure not to break the tofu.

10. Simmer until the sauce has thickened. Serve hot over steamed rice.

Source: Slightly adapted from Woks of Life

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