Warning: this recipe is neither authentically Chinese in any way, nor is it pretty. It does, however, taste good. Feeling peckish and rather surly on a cold, grey Saturday morning, I threw this together using whatever fresh vegetables I had on hand.
The idea here is to create a dish with a pleasing array of textures—soft, crunchy, crisp, chewy—and flavors—the usual hot, sour, salty, sweet, umami. I served the dish rather heretically on a bed of steamed jasmine rice and macaroni. (In Chinese cuisine, rice is typically eaten on its own, as Westerners might nibble on some bread while enjoying the main course. Of course, macaroni does not belong in a pot of steamed rice. Don’t ask me why I put it there, I suppose I wanted to see what it would taste like.) I think this dish is actually best served as a sort of dry ho fun, that is, combined with the wide rice noodles known as ho fun. You could also add in another source of protein, such as seitan (HAIL SEITAN!) or tempeh for texture and variety.
Alternatively, you could add in some egg ribbons for a vegetarian version of this dish (which I did for the husband, but not for myself). These are easily prepared by beating a couple of eggs and cooking them in a well oiled wok, taking care to turn the wok in order to better distribute the egg mixture into a sort of flat pancake. Slice into ribbons as the egg hardens, sprinkle these on top of your stir fry. C’est tout.
vegan tea-smoked tofu and almond stir fry
If you have fresh ginger and green onions on hand, do use them in this recipe. I did not, so I made due with powdered ginger and just the shallot. I used the wonderful tea-smoked tofu made by Hodo Soy Beanery as my tofu base for this dish. You can use any other smoked, baked or savory flavored tofu, or just plain tofu if you prefer. You may need to adjust the seasoning if using plain tofu. As with any stir fry, prepare all ingredients before cooking, arrange them in order of use and then cook everything very quickly so as to retain the freshness and crunch of the vegetables.
1-2 tsp Jamaican or other yellow curry powder
1 Japanese eggplant, cubed
1 shallot, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
6oz./170gr tea-smoked tofu, or other savory cooked tofu
2 cups snap peas, trimmed and sliced in half on the diagonal
1 carrot, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 stalk celery, chopped into bite-size pieces
1-2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 handfuls almonds
1/2 fresh lime or lime juice
Sriracha or other hot sauce
Toasted sesame oil
- In a wok on high heat, melt some coconut oil taking care not to let it smoke.
- Fry the eggplant until the wok is almost dry, then splash in just a little vermouth. The eggplant absorbs the wine, keeping it from sticking to the wok and filling it with flavor.
- When the eggplant cubes have softened and colored a bit, remove and set aside.
- Melt some more coconut oil in the wok, about 1 tablespoon.
- Add the shallot slices and stir. When the shallots begin to color, add the curry powder and tofu. Stir.
- When the tofu has browned, add in the snap peas and stir. When these are bright green, add in the carrots, celery and garlic. Stir.
- Throw in the almonds, then season with one or two splashes of soy sauce, the juice of half a lime, a little ginger powder and hot sauce. Stir to combine the flavors and turn off the heat. Plate immediately.
- Season to taste with toasted sesame seed oil.
If serving with wide rice noodles, prepare the noodles as instructed on the package (they’re usually soaked in hot or warm water). Combine the noodles with the stir fry in the wok during the last minute of cooking. Add more soy sauce and sesame oil if necessary.