Monday, August 29, 2011

Spicy Szechuan Tofu

For years, I was never a huge fan of Trader Joe's - when I lived in Los Angeles, it was the worst place to go on the weekend.  Every single one had the world's smallest parking lot, and it was a madhouse.

But these ladies are huge fans, and even wrote a book about it - Cooking with all Things Trader Joe's - and it has absolutely beautiful pictures to go with it, taken by the ladies themselves. Itcombines their love of Trader Joe's with simple, quick recipes that ANYONE can cook with just a little TJ's help.

I marked this recipe on my first glance through the book, and I kept going back to it because it reminded me so much of mapo tofu, which is a spicy Chinese tofu dish.  When my mom made it, she always used silken tofu, so it was more soupy, but this version uses firm tofu cubes, making it a bit easier to eat.

This recipe was extremely easy to make.  The prep is minimal, and the prepared General Tsao stir fry sauce really speeds things along in flavorville.

My main changes to the recipe - first, I used ground turkey, as I didn't feel like beef and I could not find ground pork (the traditional meat in mapo tofu) at the grocery store.  Second, I added mushrooms, because they were on sale, and I wanted to bulk up the dish a bit.  Both are delicious additions.

Oh, and one hint - I didn't buy the sesame oil at TJ's - I actually got it at a local Japanese market.  Be careful when purchasing - I somehow grabbed the sesame oil with cayenne extract.  Ouch.

If you're a Trader Joe's fan, this book is definitely worth a glance!

Spicy Szechuan Tofu from Cooking with all things Trader Joe's.  Serves 4

  • 1 package firm tofu (I recommend extra firm)
  • 1/2 lb ground turkey or beef 
  • 1 glove garlic, crushed, or 1 cube frozen crushed garlic
  • 1 tsp crushed ginger (I used powdered)
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 1/2 cup General Tsao Stir Fry Sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil
  • 2 green onions, chopped (I omitted this, since I don't like raw green onions.)
1.  Cut the tofu into 1/2 inch cubes.  Place cubes between paper towels and press to draw water out.  Set aside.

2.  Cook turkey/beef/pork in a skillet, breaking it up as it cooks.  Add garlic, ginger, and peas; cook 2 minutes longer.

3.  Add tofu, stir fry sauce, soy sauce, and sesame oil.  Cook for 3 minutes or until heated through.

4.  Add green onions and remove from heat.  Serve over steamed white rice.

This recipe makes you look like a Chinese cooking genius, when all the work is done by the delicious (and not that spicy) stir fry sauce.  Yummmm.

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