vegan mapo tofu

Vegan Mapo Tofu

every four years,
i’m surprised when election time arrives,
the level of vitriol increasing incrementally,
this latest season reaching obscene heights.
i became a citizen just in time
to vote in a historical president,
and it seems like we’re on the cusp of
voting in another historical president.
(at the time i wrote this post,
we did not know who the new president would be.)
mayhap with the passing of this season
things will settle,
be less contentious,
our facebook feed will go back to
cat postings
and finally,
i’ll catch up on the Brange drama;
though i wonder in the aftermath
of such hate,
and the tacit permission to be so unkind,
i wonder what the consequences will look like?

growing up tofu was consumed fairly often,
it’s nutritious and cheap.
lentils is a relatively new addition to my repertoire,
it’s also nutritious and cheap.
combining the two,
a western ingredient in an asian dish,
seems about right in this climate.

if only we could be so kind
in the blending of our cultures.

Vegan Mapo Tofu

Vegan Mapo Tofu
drawn from these sources: lady&pups, lucky peach, and burp! appetite.

note: you won’t use all the chili bean paste oil, it can be stored in fridge for a long time, used to top other dishes, like ramen or dandan noodles.
it’s spicy AF, dw was like, WHY IS THIS DISH SO ANGRY?!
note**: i’ve made this a few times, with/out the chili oil, with meat or with lentils, it changes depending on what we have in the pantry. what is the always the same is the tofu, i’m a firm tofu lover, the silken/soft stuff makes me mad. another thing, i always use the french lentils because they hold their shape better.

chili bean paste oil
1 cup of grapeseed oil
1 – 2 TBL of douban paste, i use lee kum brand
2 TBL chili pepper flakes

combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and heat at medium. with a spoon break the paste as best you can and fry for about 5 minutes, until the flakes turn brown. take off heat and cool completely. strain into a clean jar/container. keep in fridge until use.

the main event
1 package of firm tofu, wrapped in kitchen towel & pressed down with something heavy to draw out excess water
1/2 cup of lentils, i used black/french, cooked (cooked in water for about 30 minutes)
splash of oil
a knob of ginger, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1/4 cup sliced/minced dried wood ear mushrooms, reconstituted in hot water
2 TBL of douban paste, i use lee kum brand
splash of chinese shao-xing wine, rice wine is fine
splash of dark soy sauce
1 tsp of ground sichuan peppercorn, i use penzeys
1 – 2 cups of veg stock
1 TBL cornstarch + 2 TBL cold water

after tofu’s been pressed of excess liquid, cube it and set aside.

heat up a large skillet with some oil and the ginger and garlic, take care to not burn. add in the lentils, along with the mushroom and douban paste. stir it through so that the lentils are fully mixed with the paste. add in the shao-xing wine, dark sauce and ground peppercorn. cook it through for a minute or so and then add the stock and tofu cubes. lower the heat and allow to simmer until reduced by half. (i like my chinese dishes liquidy cus i enjoy pouring the sauce over rice). add in the cornstarch slurry to thicken the sauce. gently mix everything and the liquid is fully thickened, and transfer to serving bowl.

top with a tablespoon or so of the chili oil, heated in a small pan. serve with hot rice.


Vegan Mapo Tofu

3 years ago: chicken pho
2 years ago: za’atar socca + middle eastern smashed avocado
1 year ago: only one thing last year, vegan carrot cake

chinese egg tarts

Chinese Egg TartsChinese Egg Tarts

i’ve been watching
PBS’s The Great British Baking Show
every monday
(our sundays were taken up
with Football or the Walking Dead)
sure, i realize the series aired
during the summer
across the pond,
i’m upset about things
that have blown over already
but that doesn’t stop me from
taking to twitter
to wax poetry about
all things #GBBO
have you seen it?
who are you rooting?

Chinese Egg Tarts

Chinese Egg Tarts
dough adapted from Use Real Butter

*note: i made these tarts mainly to see if i could, because we so very rarely go to dimsum. i’d say it’s a great dairy free option, a little time consuming, with two types of dough to work with. the lunar new year is a week away, these would make a great addition to the 15 3 day feast that usually takes place to celebrate all things new.

water dough
1 cup AP flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
5 TBL lard
10 TBL water
1/4 tsp salt

fat dough
1 cup AP flour
5 TBL lard

egg custard
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups full fat, lactose free milk (i used organic valley)
pinch of salt

preheat oven 350F.

to make the water dough, mix all the ingredients in a bowl. mix it until smooth, let stand for 20 minutes covered with a damn towel. roll into log and cut into 20 pieces. set aside, covered.

to make the fat dough, mix all the ingredients until smooth. don’t be stressed, it will be crumblier than the water dough. roll into a log and cut into 20 equal pieces, them into small balls.

to make the pastries, first roll out the water dough piece, flatten into a disk about 3″. put a fat dough ball into the center of the disk and wrap the ball completely to make a ball. now flatten it again, rolling it out about 4″ long. fold it into thirds, turn 90 degrees and flatten/roll out again 4″ long. fold into thirds, turn and flat out, though aim for a circle/disk this time, about 4″ wide (or however big your molds are. mine were about 3″) line a mold with the pastry dough, crimp edges. do this for the rest of the dough.

to make egg custard: in a sauce pan heat up the milk very very gently. add the sugar and salt and mix until completely dissolved and incorporated. take off the heat. in a bowl with the egg yolks, very gently pour in a ladle of the warm sweet milk, all the while stirring the yolks. you don’t want to scramble the yolks, add another ladle for good measure, stirring continuously. finally, add in the rest of the mixture, stirring constantly. if you want, strain through a sieve, though i’ll tell you i didn’t bother. set aside until ready to fill pans.

when ready, fill the pans with the custard filling, about 3/4 of way up, don’t overflow it.

bake 30-35 minutes.

these will keep in fridge, covered for a week, though they taste best the day made, about 20 minutes out of the oven.


Chinese Egg Tarts

i was included on the worktop recently, a lovely roundup of other lunar new year goodies.