Monday, June 29, 2009

Gluten-free, meat-free, anything but flavor free.

Okay, bloggerspot and I have some issues with one another. For one thing... what's with all the spaces? No I did not want 10 lines between each item in the ingredient list. And why can't I add more than my one little photo over there? This is what happens when the tenchologically decrepit try to write a blog. Must devote some of that vacation time to figure out the ins and outs of this site. On to happier thoughts. How about Summer.....ahhhh.... Summer, only during this time of year can I say, I am recovering from vacation while I pack for the next one. The week in between the two trips gives me time to clean out my refrigerator, and buy just enough food to get by until we head out.

I am going home to Vermont for a week or so and when I used to go home to Vermont it meant one thing. Five Spice Cafe!!! A very quaint restaurant on Church Street in Burlington, Vermont. They had the best food, and a wonderful atmosphere, until new owners bought it and first ran it into the ground before it burned to the ground. It's been three years and they have yet to rebuild it.

My favorite dish to get was the Vegetarian Kung Pao substituting Tofu for Setan, with a side of spicy cucumbers. I feel like home just talking about it. Well when we moved here there was no Church Street Cafe, and only having it once a year didn't really seem doable so I made several attempts at recreating the dish. Here is the result. This recipe is gluten-free, assuming tofu is gluten-free, which I am assuming... sorry if I'm wrong, vegan, and spicy. Hot stuff for a hot month. Enjoy.

Kung Pao Tofu

1 tablespoon rice wine
1 tablespoon peanut oil
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon cornstarch (is there wheat hiding in cornstarch... didn't think to check)

3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoon rice wine
3 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoon hoisin sauce

The rest
2 tablespoons peanut oil
4 dried or pickled whole chilis (watch out you don't eat these at the end... whooo baby)
1/2 inch ginger, peeled, sliced, and diced
1 garlic clove, smashed
4 green onions, chop the white part tiny, then the green in 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup peanuts
1/2 small head red cabbage, sliced thin
5 baby carrots, julienned
8 ounces of Tofu, cubed

Slurry/Thickening sauce
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon cornstarch or veggie stock
Mix together to form slurry

Put all marinade ingredients together in a bowl. Mix well. Dump into ziploc bag, add tofu, shake up, place in fridge for about 2 hours or overnight.

Mix ingredients for sauce, and set aside.

Over medium high heat add 1/2 teaspoon of peanut oil. Rub around bottom of pan. Add tofu. Let fry on one side until crispy, turn, try to get all sides toasty brown. Remove from pan.

Over high heat in wok, heat the remaining peanut oil until super hot. When wok is almost at smoking temperature, add the peanuts, fry for 30-40 seconds, remove and set aside on paper towel. Add the chilis, ginger, garlic, and white part of the onions for 30-40 seconds or until the chilis turn dark (this may not happen with pickled chilies).

Add the sauce and bring to a boil. Add the peanuts back to the wok. Thicken sauce with half the slurry.

Add the tofu, fry for 30 seconds. Add the rest of the slurry if necessary.

Add the red cabbage, carrots, fry until almost tender. Add in onion greens, continue to cook until everything is glossy and tender but still has crunch. Serve with jasmine or brown rice and side of spicy cucumbers (recipe to come).

Have a great holiday.

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