Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First dinner of Lent! Ma la tofu and potatoes.

Ma la tofu and potatoes

Ma la simply means the dish has both the heat of chiles and the numbing of Sichuan peppercorns. It's one of my favorite flavor combinations, and for whatever reason, I usually include greens in a ma la dish.

There are several components here:

Rice, steamed;

Potatoes, cubed and fried twice, once at 350 and once at 375, to keep them crisp;

Tofu - "extra firm, cubed," bought that way from the supermarket, marinated in soy sauce, garlic, ginger, chiles, and Sichuan peppercorns, and then dusted with Zatarain's fish fry (why not) before being deep-fried with the potatoes in their second frying;

A sauce of soy sauce, vinegar, honey, water, Sichuan peppercorns, chiles, ginger, garlic, and cornstarch to thicken;

Turnip greens - blanched, squeezed dry (well, moist), chopped, and added to the sauce to heat through.

The greens would be greener if I hadn't had to hold the sauce while waiting for the rice to finish.

Tofu has a flavor, but like potato, it's a flavor that is quickly overpowered by whatever other flavors you're surrounding it with - here, it's mainly a textural contrast to the fried potatoes, the rice, and the crunch of the raw scallion.

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