Thursday, November 26, 2009

Chilli Salt Crusted Tofu with wilted greens and black bean sauce

Possibly the longest title of any recipe on my blog. So far.

It is a bit of a fiddle to make the first time but it is also sensational. The black bean sauce makes enough for two meals and keeps well in the fridge for a week or two so the second time you make it - and you will want it again and again - it takes twenty minutes from go to whoah.

Or idea to plate perhaps.

Adapted from Christine Manfield's seminal Spice book, it is an extraordinary coming together of textures and tastes running the gamut from salty to sweet, crispy hot to creamy smooth. Just gorgeous in every mouthful.

The first time I cooked it I had some cold rice in the fridge so made egg fried rice with spring onions to go with, second time it was simple steamed basmati. Both worked a treat.

Chilli salt beancurd with steamed greens and blackbean sauce

for the salt crust
12 large dried chillies
12 black peppercorns
2 tspns sea salt crystals
2 tbspns uncooked basmati rice

for the blackbean sauce
2 tspns dried blackbeans
30ml vegetable oil
1/2 tspn sesame oil
5 cloves garlic. minced
2 tspns minced ginger
4 red birds eye chillies, finely sliced
25ml chinese rice wine - or sherry if you have none, though it's easy to buy in chinese food shops
25ml ginger juice, made by putting 6 tbspns minced ginger into a blender with a splash of water, blend for a minute, then press the pulp through a very fine sieve to extract the juice
75ml sweet soy - kecap manis
150ml water
1 tspn sea salt
50g garlic chives
500g pak choy or other chinese greens
1 tbspn peanut oil
800g firm beancurd, cut into 8 cubes
Oil for deep frying

To make the chilli salt crust, dry roast the dried chillies, peppercorns, salt and rice over a gentle heat until slightly coloured and aromatic. Put to one side till cool, then grind to a powder.

To make the black bean sauce, soak the black beans for 30 minutes. Heat the vegetable and sesame oils in a pan over a moderate heat and fry the garlic, ginger and chilli for a minute till fragrant then add the drained blackbenas, rice wine, ginger juice,sweet soy and water and bring to a boil, then simmer for 3-4 minutes. Add the salt, then taste and adjust seasoning.

Heat the peanut oil in a pan and add the separated and washed chinese leaves. Cover with a lid and allow to wilt. Drain.

Meanwhile, heat enough vegetable oil in a pan to deep fry the tofu. Coat the beancurd cubes in the chilli salt, then fry a few at a time for 3 minutes or so until pale goled and crisp on the surface. They will float to the top when cooked. Remove carefully with a slotted spoon onto kitchen paper and cook the remainder.

Stir the garlic chives into the blackbean sauce.

Arrange steamed greens onto a plate, spoon over blackbean sauce then top with fried beancurd.

Add a dollop of chilli jam if you have some, for a lovely starter. Rice for a main course.

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