Sometimes I get ahead of myself. I took this photo half a year ago and am just now posting it. Why? Well I love to collect cookbooks, not just any cookbooks, ones that seduce me into buying. Last year I must have been seduced a lot as I think I purchased over 20 cookbooks! My modus operandi is that I’ll try a few recipes from the book and then go on to the next one. The trouble is, I sometimes can’t recall where that recipe came from! I’ve got to come up with a better system!
When I feel Asia calling me (food-wise, that is) and I want a quick fix, I turn to tofu and bok choy. This recipe has all the ingredients that carry me back to the open air kitchens of Hong Kong (aka wet markets). The familiar sound of propane fiercely firing a gigantic wok brings back a flood of gastronomic delights. One wok but, oh, so many scrumptious dishes churned out for the hungry patrons. And, it was dirt cheap! I think the most amusing part of watching the food being prepared is how these guys (yes, usually it was a man behind the wok and usually with a cigarette precariously hanging out of the corner of his mouth, wearing sleeveless dirty t-shirts – sometimes without) could work so fast and not get burnt by the billowing flame that engulfed their woks. This style of dining was a form of entertainment for me. The locals would always give me a look as I would be the only Gweilo (Cantonese for foreigner) eating there. It was more of a look of amazement and I would get a smile from the staff and because they were older, little English was spoken. Communication for me back then was a smile, a nod, a few words in Cantonese and it would be reciprocated. Once you get past the untidy, questionable food safety and insurance issues of a wet market, and the plastic table and stools, you won’t be disappointed with the food! Sadly, though, these food stalls in Hong Kong are slowly disappearing to the redevelopment of old districts.
adapted from Ripe
4 large garlic cloves, minced
2 tablespoons red miso paste (available in Asian markets or natural food stores)
5 teaspoons freshly grated ginger
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons sesame oil
14 oz. block of firm (non-GMO) tofu, pressed dry and cut into 1/2-inch chunks
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
2 lbs. bok choy, shredded crosswise, rinsed well and dried with paper towels
black sesame seeds, for garnish
1. Add half the garlic to a mini food processor with miso, ginger, vinegar, and sesame oil. Whiz until emulsified.
2. Set a large wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil and the tofu and stir-fry until the tofu begins to turn golden (5 min.). Sprinkle in the cornstarch and continue to stir-fry until the tofu loses its sheen and becomes a shade darker. Transfer to a plate.
3. Add 1 teaspoon of peanut oil and remaining garlic to the wok. Stir-fry garlic for 30 seconds and then add bok choy. Toss until the leaves wilt and the stalks are crisp-tender (2 min.). Return the tofu to the wok, and add half of the miso dressing. Heat through completely.
4. Garnish with sesame seeds and pass the remaining miso dressing along side. Serve immediately.
The Culinary Chase’s Note: You can also use baby bok choy, just make sure to rinse well and cut into quarters. The house will smell amazing!