Chinese food has always been a problem for me. I love to eat it, especially good authentic Chinese food, having spent time in Hong Kong and Singapore, and also having grown up with a family friend who was a Hong Kong Chinese chef, and regularly entertained our family with lavish feasts. However, I have had no concept of the basics of how to cook this particular cuisine, and so it has remained a bit enshrouded in mystery to me. Last year I watched a good few episodes of Gok Wan's series on how to cook Chinese food, and although his premise was to "healthify" many of the traditional dishes, it still gave me an insight into the very different methods used to create the flavours and textures required. Taking his basic advice and adding in a little experience from my recent Indo-Chinese experiment, I devised this ultra quick and tasty meal which was thoroughly enjoyed by all!
1 pack tofu
1 tbs cornflour
2 tbs garlic oil
2 tbs kikkoman soy sauce
ground black pepper
2 heads pak choi
1 cup of soy beans
handful of mushrooms
Start by dicing the tofu and placing in a dish to marinade. Pour the garlic oil over and season with soy sauce, salt and some freshly ground black pepper. Mix the cornflour with 5 tbs water in a cup and then pour this over the tofu too. Leave to marinade. 10 mins is fine, longer won't hurt.
Chop the mushrooms and the pak choi, separating the green leaves from the white stalks.
Heat some more oil, groundnut or more garlic oil, in a wok and using a slotted spoon to drip off excess marindae, fry the tofu in batches until crispy on some of the sides. You can be careful and crisp all the sides, or just crisp some and move on, depends how much time you have, or what texture you are going for. Remove with a slotted spoon when done and reserve on a plate. Do not pour away the marinade though!
Next fry the mushrooms, soy beans and whites of the pak choi for a few minutes, and then add the leaves of the pak choi. Once these are wilted, pour in the whole of the marinading liquid. The liquid will thicken up and look glossy very quickly. Stir it all around and switch off heat when desired thickness of sauce is acheived.
I preferred to keep the tofu separate, some for nibbling and some placed on top of all the veg. I had steamed some rice simply to accompany this.
Big'Un scoffed 2 big bowlsful, Littl'Un made a valiant effort given she isn't very well anyway, and Tiny scoffed every soy bean he could find and even ate some of the crunchy pak choi stalks. Naturally he loved the rice, and he even ate a bit of tofu, but he's never been a big protein eater in the evenings.
A big hit all round, and took around 20 minutes to make from start to finish.