Got a pack of tofu that's been sitting at the back of your fridge? I've got the perfect solution!
When I say that this is the perfect recipe for you if you have some tofu and beans that you've been neglecting, I am pulling from first hand experience. I am, indeed, guilty of this. I don't know about you, but lately I've been zapped when it comes time to think about dinner- what used to be a million intricate ideas floating around has quickly dwindled to me making weird salads with the odds and ends from a rotisserie chicken I bought a week and a half ago...
But no more! Not when there is so much flavor that can be added to dishes that is cost effective and generally shelf stable. Enter this tofu- its crispy, a little tangy, a bit spicy, a bit sweet, and super savory.
You can thank pomegranate molasses for that special pizazz- I picked up this awesome tip from author, chef, and food writer Andrea Nguyen. If you haven't purchased her book, Vietnamese Food Everyday, do it! You won't regret it.
Also, quick note- please be aware that while this recipe has some overlap with Mapo Tofu, a traditional Sichuan dish, this recipe is not an authentic preparation. As a white chef, I feel that it is important for me to upfront about this distinction so as to not mis-attribute myself, in any way, as an expert of Asian cuisine and its many multitudes, complexities, and overall diversity.
Ok, onto the recipe!
Crispy Tofu with Pink Peppercorns and Pole Beans ~
-1 block of firm or extra firm tofu
-2 tablespoons cornstarch
-1/4 cup tamari or soy sauce
-1 tbsp + 1 tsp pomegranate molasses
-1/2 tsp Chinese five spice
-1/2 tsp sesame oil
-1 tsp salt
-1 tbsp whole red peppercorns, crushed
-3 tbsp neutral oil
-(optional) about 8-10 oz pole beans, trimmed and cut in half
Remove tofu from package and wrap in paper towels or a napkin. Place tofu on a plate and put another plate on the top. Carefully set a medium-heavy pot or can on top of the upper plate to press the tofu and drain some of the liquid. Leave untouched for about 20 minutes. In a small bowl, add tamari/soy sauce, pomegranate molasses, Chinese five spice, sesame oil, ½ tsp salt and the red peppercorns. Mix to combine. Remove tofu from the press and cut into 1-inch cubes. Add cornstarch to a plate or bowl, and gently coat tofu on all sides. In a cast iron skillet or nonstick pan, warm over medium high heat and add the neutral oil of choice. Carefully add the tofu to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. Cook the tofu on each side for about two minutes. Once golden brown, remove tofu from the heat and set aside. Add the sauce to the pan and reduce the heat to low. Cook, stirring often, until the liquid reduces down a bit, about 3 minutes. Remove pan from heat and pour the sauce over the tofu. Return pan to the stovetop over medium heat. Add more oil as needed, and add the pole beans to the pan. Add an additional ½ tsp of salt and sauté the beans until cooked through, about 5-6 minutes. Remove the pan the from heat, plate up, and enjoy!