Sichuan Silken Tofu
One of the things I miss about China is the plethora of savory breakfast options from soups to dumplings to this spicy tofu that has the perfect mix of spicy, sour, and sweet flavors. As if this wasn’t enough, it is also a mix of textures with crunch from fried wonton skins and peanuts, to the silky smoothness of the tofu. Fresh cilantro and green onions brighten everything up and just seem to draw everything together. Though this looks like a lot of ingredients, it is actually quite easy to throw together and you can modify as you see fit. I can think of nothing better after a night of imbibing. This is my interpretation of a version I used to get at a small Sichuan restaurant near my apartment in Beijing.
2 cups of oil for frying peanuts and wonton skins or spring roll wrappers
1 small package wonton skins or spring roll wrappers
2 containers of silken or soft tofu ( 2 lbs)
1 cup raw peanuts
1 bunch green onions
Sichuan preserved vegetables (optional)
1/4 cup Sichuan chili broad bean paste (Chili soy bean paste will also work)
1/3 cup black rice vinegar (Shaoxing vinegar works well too)
2 Tb soy sauce
1 cup chicken broth
4 garlic cloves minced
2 Tb sesame oil
2 Tb sugar
1. Heat the vegetable oil in a small sauce pan or wok until it reaches 350 degrees. You can test the oil by using the tip of a wooden chopstick. If the tip bubbles when inserted into the oil, it’s hot enough. While the oil is heating, make strips from your wonton wrappers or spring roll wrappers that are about 1/2 inch wide.
2. When oil is hot, add wrappers and fry for a minute or two until they are evenly browned and crispy. Drain on paper towels.
3. Add raw peanuts to oil and fry until they are evenly browned. Be careful, this only takes a few minutes and they burn easily. Remove and drain on paper towels.
4. Mix chili bean paste, vinegar, soy sauce, chicken stock, garlic, sesame oil, and sugar.
5. Reserve 1-2 Tb oil from frying the peanuts and heat in a wok. Add the mixed ingredients from step 4 and heat until the sugar has dissolved.
6. Place blocks of tofu into your serving bowls and pour over warm sauce. Garnish with the fried spring roll wrappers and peanuts. Add some chopped spring onions, cilantro, and Sichuan preserved vegetables to taste. Enjoy!