Monday, October 20, 2008

Meat+Tofu+Veggie+Oyster Sauce


(This is a repost from my food blog. The photo and instructions have been updated.)
I have no idea what to call this dish and its various variations, hence the odd title. This is one of those homey dishes that you won't find in cookbooks. I never measure anything when I make this so I'm just estimating the proportions. The great thing about this dish is that you can modify it to your tastes, plus it is cheap. I use anywhere from 1/4 lb to 1 and 1/4 pound of meat. Just depends on how "meaty" you want the dish to be. It makes 3 to 6 servings (maybe more), depending on ingredients and appetites.

Ingredients
1/4 to 1 pound of ground pork or beef or turkey. I prefer beef or pork.
1 cube of firm tofu, cut into small squares or small cubes. The kind at my grocery store is 14 or 15 oz.
1 small or medium onion, finely chopped
some sort of veggie. I suggest two bundles of Chinese long beans (put your thumb and forefinger together, that's about a bundle), cut into tiny rounds or 1/2 head cabbage, shredded (I suppose you could chop it also)
Optional: Chinese mushrooms, reconstituted and finely chopped

Sauce
cornstarch
water
soy sauce
oyster sauce (regular or vegetarian, I like a mix of the two)
white pepper
salt (optional, I usually don't add salt, but you might like your food saltier than I do. I figure the oyster sauce and soy sauce have enough salt)

Optional garnish: Sliced green onion or cilantro

Directions
1. Brown the meat and chopped onions. If you're using mushrooms, cook them with the meat and onions.
2. Add the tofu till heated through
3. Add the veggies (I suppose you can stir fry them first, but why dirty another pan?) and cook till almost done.
4. As the veggies are cooking, make the sauce. Start with about two teaspoons of cornstarch and 1/4 cup of water. When the cornstarch is dissolved, add several shakes of oyster sauce, a dash of soy sauce, and a dash of white pepper. Stir to blend, then add another 3/4 cup of water. (By shake, I mean you shake the bottle and whatever comes out is what you use, lol. If you're not sure if you like oyster sauce, I'd go really light on it.)
5. When the veggies are done cooking and everything is simmering, stir in the sauce. It should thicken immediately. If it is too thick, immediately add some water.
6. Bring the everything back to a simmer and it's done.
7. Serve over rice with the optional garnish.

Other variations
* Add minced garlic to the meat or garlic powder to the sauce
* Brown the tofu first (before the meat). If you do this, use a non-stick pan. Cut the tofu into squares about 1/2 x 1-1/2 x 1-1/2 inches. Place them in the pan and turn after they brown; then brown the other side. The tofu gets chewy and more meat-like. After browning the tofu, remove it from the pan and start with step 1 above. Note that the tofu doesn't get really brown, more like a golden yellow.
* Use bean sauce in addition to or instead of the oyster sauce.

Notes
The dish in the above photo included 1/4 of ground pork, about 10 small Chinese mushrooms, 1 huge bunch of Chinese string beans, and then the usual ingredients. There was enough for three (large) dinners and two lunches (with rice) so this is one way to stretch your meat/protein dollars.

2 comments:

Angie said...

Yummy! This looks so good! When are you coming over to make us dinner?

scrapper al said...

How about you come and visit me and I promise to cook?