February 20, 2006
tofu with bokchoy & beansprouts
Another vegetarian favorite of ours is this classic stir-fry which goes well as a side dish for simple grilled meat dishes. A very easy dish, it takes only minutes to make this. A block of tofu, preferably soft to medium, is cut into cubes and pan-fried in some oil until slightly toasted. This takes a few minutes. A non-stick or well-seasoned sautee pan will prevent them from sticking. The slightly browned tofu cubes are then transferred to a papertowel lined tray or mesh collander to drain. In the meantime, the bokchoy leaves are separated and rinsed well. There are a couple of bokchoy varieties available here that I prefer to use. In Manila, there’s only one common type I know of, which we call pechay, that’s always available in the local markets and groceries. Baby bokchoy, sold in the produce section of most Oriental grocery stores here, is actually my most preferred variety. This same variety is also commonly used by most Chinese restaurants around here. However, they don’t usually sell it in regular grocery stores. What they usually have is the giant ( as I refer to it ) version of the pechay variety. It’s easy to tell that they’re from the same family, but this one has much bigger and thicker leaves and stems. I always had to slice the leaf and stem vertically first to make narrower strips, before I thinly slice them across. Chopped onions and minced garlic are sauteed together in a little oil. The bokchoy is then added and given a few minutes, a huge stack of sliced bokchoy will wilt down to almost half the amount. It always just looks bulky, just like most green leaf veggies do before cooking. The next step is to add the seasoning, which is a simple combination of light soy sauce, oyster sauce and ground black pepper with some water to thin it out. The cooked tofu is added next and stir-fried with the bokchoy for a few minutes, to absorb flavor from the sauce or seasoning. The beansprouts are best added last because they usually cook in just a few seconds and they’re much better when they’re still crisp or crunchy and definitely not overcooked.