My sisters are coming for dinner tonight. And sleeping over. In my world, sisters are A Very Good Thing.
On the menu? Something that counts as comfort food for Northern Californians. Especially when one of them was a vegetarian for a rather long time. Oh, said vegetarian wasn’t me. I’m very fond of meat. Even bacon. But I love braising. The smell is as nice as the taste. Especially when sisters are in the house.
Braised Cinnamon Tofu
From A Spoonful of Ginger, Nina Simonds
(all silly commentary is of course mine)
1 teaspoon safflower or corn oil (I always use more. Can’t help myself.)
6 whole scallions, ends trimmed, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife and cut into 1 1/2 inch sections (this recipe has no finicky chopping requirements. I like that.)
6 garlic cloves, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife and sliced thinly
4 slices fresh ginger, about the size of a quarter, smashed lightly with the flat side of a knife
1 teaspoon hot chile paste (you can probably use crushed chile pepper instead. If you can find it.)
2 sticks cinnamon
1 teaspoon anise seed (I imagine you can also use a couple of star anise pods)
1/2 cup soy sauce
6 cups water
2 pounds firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes
1 pound spinach, stems trimmed, rinsed, and drained
3 tablespoons minced scallion greens
1. Heat a large pot or casserole over medium-high heat, add the oil, heat until hot, about 30 seconds, and add the Seasonings. Stir-fry until fragrant, about 15 seconds, then add the soy sauce and water. Heat until boiling, add the tofu, and boil again. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer, skimming the surface to remove impurities and fat (although, how much fat is going to be present given that it’s tofu?). Cook for 1 hour, until the tofu is drenched (don’t you love the word drenched?) with the flavors of the braising mixture. Remove the ginger slices and cinnamon and discard.
2. Add the spinach clump by clump to the tofu (I am so going to use to pre-washed spinach, a great modern invention) and heat until boiling. Ladle the mixture into serving bowls, sprinkle scallion greens on top, and serve.
If this sounds good to you, go buy the cookbook. It’s incredible. I promise. Also, have a wonderful weekend. For that, I can make no promises. But I will make wishes.
*And nobody gave me anything nor do I make any money from purchases. Not that I am against free enterprise, I just don’t know how.