Saturday, November 29, 2008

Saucy Broccoli and Tofu Stir-fry

We eat a lot of broccoli in this house. It’s one of the vegetables my son will actually eat without a lot of bitching and moaning. It might be a bit boring as far as vegetables go, but it does often save me a trip to the Asian market because it’s a good substitute for Asian broccoli. Not quit as sharp as the Asian varieties, but that’s made up for with a wonderful texture. If you haven’t tried biting into a tender-crisp piece of stir-fried broccoli, the sauce that’s trapped in the floret releasing into your mouth, then you’ve missed out. That’s not an exaggeration.

Try this easy stir-fry and you’ll see what I’m talking about.

I found this stir-fry in Martin Yan’s latest cookbook, Martin Yan's China. He originally presents this as a shrimp stir-fry, but in an effort to eat less meat, I decided to use tofu and broccoli. In fact, if you substitute the chicken stock with vegetable stock or water, this would be a vegan dish! Imagine that?!

Saucy Broccoli and Tofu Stir-fry
Adapated from Martin Yan’s China
Serves 3
  • 1 block firm tofu, drained and cut into cubes
  • 2 to 3 cups of broccoli (more if you’d like), cut for stir-frying
  • 1 tbs minced garlic
  • ¼ cup ketchup (see note)
  • ¼ cup Chinese rice wine
  • ¼ cup chicken broth
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 to 2 tbs chili garlic sauce (see note)
  • ½ tbs sugar (more to taste)
  • squirt of toasted sesame oil
  • 1 tsp soy sauce (more to taste)
Note: Those who turn their noses up to using ketchup in Asian cooking should not be so snobby. It can work beautifully, like in this dish. Remember, if it's good enough for Martin Yan, it's good enough for you. Also, if you haven’t figured it out, there is a difference between the Chinese andd Vietnamese version of chili garlic sauce. Lee Kum Kee is probably the most popular Chinese version here in the States. We don’t think it’s very spicy and are able to use the full 2 tbs in this dish. The Vietnamese version is a heck of a lot spicier, and the one I prefer, but if I use 2 tbs in anything, Sonny wouldn’t be able to eat. The choice is yours; both work well.

Start by heating a wok over medium-high heat. Add 2 to 3 tbs oil and when hot add the tofu. Fry the tofu, turning only every minute or so. This will allow it to sear so that the outside is semi-crisp and the inside is soft. It may take 10 minutes to get them browned to your liking.

While the tofu is cooking, make the sauce. Start by dissolving the cornstarch in the broth and soy sauce. Add the ketchup, rice wine, chili garlic sauce, sugar and sesame oil. Stir to dissolve the sugar. Adjust the flavor to your liking by adding more of any of the ingredients. Bare in mind that the rice wine may seem strong, but it will evaporate once cooked. Set aside until needed.

Once the tofu is browned to your liking, add the broccoli and stir-fry until crisp-tender, about 2 minutes. Better to undercook than overcook because you’ll be giving it a little more time at the end. Remove everything to a bowl.

Turn up the heat. To the wok, add another tbs of oil and the garlic. Fry for just a few seconds, making sure it doesn’t burn. Add the sauce mix and allow to reduce until it thickens. This shouldn’t take too long if your wok is hot. Add the tofu and broccoli back in and stir to coat. Cook for about another minute. There should be a nice sauce and it should be quite thick. Remove from heat and serve immediate with steamed rice.

I'm submitting this dish to Weekend Wokking, a food blogging event created by Wandering Chopsticks that spotlights a theme ingredient. The host this round is Wiffy of Noob Cook and the theme ingredient is broccoli. If you're interested in participating in the future, check out Wiffy's blog for the round-up, which will be posted on Dec 3. You'll get to see all the delicious entries and the next secret ingredient will be revealed!


Heather said...

I agree! I love broccoli (I also love gai lan, but regular brock is great). I also don't turn my nose up to using ketchup, but I always thought it was just a sub for tamarind paste?

Dee said...

Heather, ketchup can be used in place of tamarind paste. I've seen my mom do it in a pinch. I have a couple of Martin Yan's books and he uses ketchup a few times (once with disastrous results!) and tamarind paste a few times, but there's no reason why the two couldn't be interchanged in most recipes. I wouldn't use ketchup in my som tom though. LOL

Noob Cook said...

What a beautiful creation and I think the ketchup is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing your tasty recipe with ww =)

Dee said...

Thank you Wiffy! Ketchup can be a surprisingly pleasant ingredient when used properly. It's well balanced here by the chili garlic sauce, rice wine and broth.

tigerfish said...

Yummy! You really sauced it up!

Manggy said...

Ah, I think I have some chili sauce (Lee Kum Kee at that!) begging for some use! (Ah, it's my same old sauce issues in Chinese cooking again ;)
Interesting that you note you've had a disaster with one of Martin Yan's recipes. I wonder what happened? I think ketchup is a valid "cooking" sauce that has some applications beyond meatloaf :P

Mary Bergfeld said...

This is a beautiful dish. It's nicely sauced and it's hard to go wrong with a Martin Yan recipe. I don't have his latest book, so thanks for sharing.

Wandering Chopsticks said...

I don't have any problems with ketchup in my stir-fries, or in any other dish for that matter. ;)

Hey, you know, with all the stir-fry recipes for this edition of WW, you're the first with just tofu.

QGIRL said...

Keepin' it real with the ketchup! Seriously, you eat so well.
Simple ingredients really make fantastic dishes.

Dee said...

manggy, the recipe was for sweet and sour pork from his Chinatown cookbook. The sauce called for ketchup and worcestershire. Way too overpowering!

Mary, Hubby got the book for me as a gift and it's great. Easy to read and follow.

WC, and who said only kids eat ketchup? I love the stuff. I like to spike it with Tobasco sauce for fries, eggs, and even on my hotdogs!

qgirl, I try to stay true to the ingredients. Broccoli is pretty versatile and easy to work with.

Anonymous said...

this is a wonderful change from the usual oyster sauce stir fry! :) ketchup is good, kids love ketchup.

Dee said...

Ning, I love ketchup too! Probably as much as my son :-)

Lars said...

So I've never cooked with tofu before, and the idea of using ketchup in asian cooking was news to me too, but I was really in the mood for trying tofu.. so I did...

And I actually liked it quite much. The flavours wasn't to dominating, so the taste of the broccoli could stand out, I liked the texture of the tofu (didn't find any taste in it though, but it mixed well with the sauce). All in all it was a very nice, clean flavored meal, really easy to do, and I will definitely be doing it again.

Dee said...

Lars, tofu is an acquired taste, I realize that. I like it a lot because I grew up on it. I've been eating it uncooked a lot lately, just with dipping sauce. Hubby won't touch it raw, but he will eat it in stir-fries, and sometimes he does enjoy it too!

I'm glad you liked the stir-fry. Ketchup as more than a condiment is an acquired taste as well. But I think in this case it's mostly psychological because generally people love ketchup.

I'm rambling, probably due to my fever, so I'll stop here.LOL

Anonymous said...

Nice food photography! Did you know there is actually a Tamarind ketchup?

Dee said...

foodphotoblog, thank you! I did not know there was a tamarind ketchup. I'm going to look it up right now!

foodbin said...

it would taste better if you'd use bean curd sheets and some enokitaki mushroom, leave out the ketchup.

dp said...

foodbin, I agree that this stir-fry would be very good without the ketchup as well. I haven't used the bean curd sheets before (only deep fried tofu), but I'll take your advice and try them out.

CakeItaly, thank you very much for stopping by and your nice comment. Come back again soon!