|Kung Pao Tofu|
A few months back I made a batch of homemade Kung Pao sauce using this crazy-simple recipe from Ming Tsai of "Simply Ming". I only ended up using half of the batch, so I transfered the rest to a small tupperware container and popped it into the freezer for another day. Almost six months and one move to a new house/much snazzier freezer later, the sauce remained. Lonely. And forming ice crystals. Clearly the time had come for me to pay some attention to the abandoned container of saucy goodness. I rummaged through the fridge and came out with a small head of cabbage, some carrots, and a block of super firm tofu. A brief pantry browse turned up a box of rice noodles and some sesame seeds. Not necessarily the traditional components of a Kung Pao dish, but sure to be delicious all the same. Plus, Ming is all about new takes on traditional Chinese cuisine, so I'm sure he'd be cool with it. I tossed cubes of the tofu in cornstarch seasoned with garlic, onion, and ginger powders, then pan-fried the coated tofu in a large pan filled with 1/4 cup of oil. I found it helpful to fry the tofu in two batches, and prepared a cooling rack with a layer of paper towels to let the fried tofu drain while I completed the rest of the dish.
After the tofu was done, I quickly stir fried the cabbage and carrots (both super thinly sliced) in the remaining tofu-frying-oil until tender-crisp. Back in went the tofu, followed by the thawed Kung Pao sauce. I'd intended to toss the rice noodles (which were soaked in hot water until al dente and drained) with the saucy tofu and veggies, but I didn't end up having quite enough sauce for that to work out. Oh, well. Instead, the naked noodles were placed into bowls like a little nest and smothered in Kung Pao yumminess and a sprinkling of sesame seeds. I don't know about you, but I'd say that sauce is looking pretty flipping happy.