We eat stir fry pretty often but this week we found a new absolute top favourite recipe. It was inspired by a combination of two things: a recipe for a braised broccoli and tofu dish in our Riverfood Cookbook (and some broccoli in our Riverford veg box), and by some rice cakes I'd bought a few months ago from an Asian supermarket in Birmingham after eating something similar with my friend Tracy in California. This was the same occasion that we ate tasty little dumplings, but the rice cakes were up there with them on taste. When Tracy recommended them I had imagined little noodle cakes, but actually they were compressed white slabs which had a chewy consistency. They soaked up the flavours of the liquid they were braised in really nicely and were unlike anything I'd ever eaten before. I wasn't sure if The Scientist would like them though, and the packet had been sitting in the storecupboard for ages, awaiting their hour.
The stir fry was really simple, as all stir fries should be. The difference was really the braising sauce. The broccoli was cooked with ginger, garlic, chilli and onion, and then removed. Then tofu was braised in a little stock before the veggies joined them again, along with some cornflour/stock/soy sauce/rice vinegar. The resulting dish had more liquid in it than we usually do, but it was so tasty and really made the dish. I cooked the rice cakes separately in some stock - they took about ten minutes or so.
I'm happy to say that The Scientist did like the rice cakes and they completely lived up to my Californian memory of them. They went really nicely with the crunch of the broccoli and the zing of the chilli and the ginger. It was a joyous dinner - I think we both did a little appreciative wiggle dance. In fact we liked it so much that we cooked exactly the same thing on Friday night and it was just as good. We may never cook stir fry another way again!
Braised broccoli with bean curd (from Riverford Cookbook)
1 1/2 tsp cornflour
150ml veg stock
1 tbsp rice wine/sherry
2 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil [I didn't add this to the braising liquid as The Scientist had cooked the veggies in sesame oil]
2 tbsp sunflower oil [see above]
2 garlic cloves, chopped
2cm pieces of fresh ginger, grated
1 chilli, finely chopped
350g broccoli, broken into florets, stems peeled and cut into batons
1 red onion, chopped
250g firm tofu, cut into cubes
1 tsp sesame seeds, toasted in a dry frying pan
sea salt, and freshly ground black pepper
Mix the cornflour with 50ml of the stock, then stir in the rice wine, soy sauce and sesame oil. Set aside
Heat the sunflower oil in a wok, then add the garlic, ginger and chilli and stir fry for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and onion and stir fry for a minute. Pour in the remaining stock and season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 3 minutes or until the broccoli is tender.
Remove the broccoli from the wok. Add the tofu to the wok, along with the cornflour mixture and heat through for 1 minute. Return the broccoli to the pan, adjust the seasoning and heat through. Serve sprinkled with the sesame seeds. Wiggle appreciatively.