Last week my office helped the National Conference for State Legislatures (NCSL) put on an autumn professional development seminar in Denver. We spent three days educating ourselves on best practices for legal drafters and editors as well as learning a boatload of useful information about state and national legislative history and current political issues impacting our work and communities.
NCSL is a non-partisan organization that serves as a clearinghouse for all things political at the state level. When you have time, check out their blog, The Thicket, as well as their general website for informative articles about topics near and dear to the hearts of your legislators. A little legislative education goes a long way in making informed decisions about the state and national legislators you elect. God knows the U.S. could use Congressional senators and representatives who know how to work together.
After cramming my head full of knowledge while at work, I didn’t have the energy to post a recipe on Friday as planned. Never fear. Below you’ll find another fabulous Fuchsia Dunlop recipe from Every Grain of Rice. Most Westerners might have a hard time believing that Chinese food can be delicious without meat as a centerpiece. Every Grain of Rice isn’t only for vegetarians (the book has chapters focusing on chicken, beef, pork, and seafood), but Dunlop does a great job of offering vegetarian fare that is packed with flavor. If you like authentic Chinese food, buy this cookbook immediately. You won’t be disappointed.
Below you’ll find a recipe for Pipa tofu, a protein-rich dish that doesn’t skimp on oil. We ate this with blanched spinach topped with a sesame sauce and a side of sesame soba noodles. I won’t make Pipa Tofu every week, but for special occasions, I’ll be pulling out this recipe.
Pipa Tofu: Pi pa Dou Fu (adapted from Fuchsia Dunlop’s Every Grain of Rice)
For the tofu puffs
- 2 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 9 oz plain white tofu
- 2 TBS very finely chopped carrot
- 1 TBS finely chopped cilantro
- 1 large egg white
- 3 TBS potato flour
- Ground white pepper
For the sauce
- 4 dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1 spring onion
- A few slices of peeled ginger
- A few slices of carrot, for color
- A few slices of fresh red chili
- 1 cup vegetable stock or mushroom soaking water
- 1 TBS Shaoxing wine (I used cooking sherry as a substitute.)
- 1 TBS light or tamari soy sauce
- 1/8 tsp dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp potato flour mixed with 1 TBS cold water
- 1 tsp sesame oil
1. Soak all the mushrooms in 1 cup plus 2 TBS hot water for at least 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the water. Discard the mushroom stalks. Finely chop two mushrooms and thinly slice the others. Blitz the tofu to a paste in your food processor.
2. Mix in the chopped mushrooms, carrot, cilantro, egg white, flour, 1/4 tsp salt and some pepper. Slice the spring onion white on the diagonal and cut the green into 1 3/4-in lengths.
3. Rub a couple of dessert spoons with oil. In a wok, heat the oil to 375 degrees F. Scoop up spoonfuls of tofu mixture and slide them gently into the oil. (Slide each into a different area of the wok, so they don’t stick.) Do not fry more than 5 spoonfuls at a time. Leave for a couple of minutes until golden, then flip over for another minute or two. Remove from the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels. Continue until you have fried all the mixture, skimming the oil between batches.
4. Pour off the oil and wipe out the wok. Return it to a high heat with 2 TBS fresh oil. Add the ginger, spring onion whites, carrot, sliced mushrooms, and chili, and stir-fry until they smell wonderful. Pour in the stock or mushroom water, bring to a boil and add the Shaoxing wine, soy sauces, and salt and pepper to taste.
5. Add the puffs and simmer for a minute or two. Give the potato flour mixture a stir and add, stirring as the liquid thickens to the consistency of heavy cream. Throw in the spring onion greens, then, off the heat, mix in the sesame oil and serve.