Asian


As I child I though Mabo Tofu was a Japanese dish, why, I’m not exactly sure.  I knew I could get it at Chinese Restaurants, but the sauce you could buy in the stores to make it at home always seemed to look Japanese to me.  Once I went gluten-free, I really wanted this slightly spicy, always delicious, tofu and pork dish.  Of course every bottle and package of sauce that I read contained soya sauce and of course wheat, so I found myself on a mission to find a recipe that I could adapt myself.

During my online searches, I found oodles of recipes, all slightly different AND I discovered that Mabo (or Mapo) tofu is actually a Szechuan dish; given the spice this really is not all that surprising.  I eventually found 2 recipes (about.com and Nook & Pantry) that seemed reasonable and feasible for me to make, and then I worked with both of them to make a recipe that I really enjoy.  I’ve made this quite a few times and tweaked the ingredients each time; I think I finally have it just right, at least for my liking  – feel free to adapt it to your tastes.

Mabo Tofu

This recipe does however call for some ingredients that will require an Asian grocery store and/or a little searching.  First it requires dried and salted black beans and Chili Bean Paste (my research indicated that Broad Bean Chili Bean Paste is the most authentic, but use what you can find); make sure you read the bottles, most of them have soy and wheat.  I have included an ingredient picture for this recipe to help you find these ingredients.

Mabo ingredients

Gluten-Free Mabo Tofu

Marinade Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound ground pork
  • 2 Tbsp tapioca starch (cornstarch would be ok)
  • 3.5 Tbsp gluten-free Tamari

Ingredients:

  • ~2Tbsp vegetable oil
  • splash of sesame oil
  • 3 green onions, chopped, white and green sections seperated
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2.5 tsp salted, dried black beans
  • 1 heaping Tbsp Chili Bean Paste (adapt to your tastes as necessary)
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 package Medium Firm tofu cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 Tbsp warm water
  • 2 Tbsp gluten-free Tamari
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch

Directions:

  • Mix the marinade ingredients together and set aside for about 20 minutes.
  • Heat oils in a med-high wok, once hot at the white sections of the green onion and the ginger and saute until fragrant.
  • Add the marinated pork to the oil and cook until brown; you will need to use the back of a spoon to push the pork apart into pieces or you will end up with one big lump of ground pork.
  • Stir salt into the meat and allow flavours to mix, about 30 seconds.
  • Add the salted black beans  and use the back of a spoon to mash them slightly to release the flavours and blend with the meat.
  • Add the Chili Paste and mix into the meat.
  • Add the stock, tofu, remaining green onion, garlic and sugar.  Mix well and continue to cook until tofu has softened and taken on the colours of the sauce.  Approximately 5-7 minutes.
  • Meanwhile mix the warm water, GF Tamari and cornstarch together (add the cornstarch last).
  • Once the tofu looks ready to eat, add the cornstarch mixture, stir together gently and remove from heat.  This will thicken your sauce and bring everything together (this step is optional).
  • Serve over steaming white rice and enjoy!

Tofu on Foodista

I admit it – Summer is kicking my ass.  I haven’t posted in quite some time, but of course that doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating.  My sister got me a great cookbook (I can’t remember the name right now) for my birthday, that had the best pancakes I have eaten since going Gluten-Free.  The icing on the cake?  They were easy to make, they didn’t require any time for the batter to settle, and since it’s summer they were absolutely delicious with blueberries in the batter!!

I’ve made Gluten-Free Egg Bread a few times, and am continually impressed by the moist tenderness of this bread.  Although it is a little dense and definitely eggie, it makes great sandwiches, not to mention fabulous French Toast.  I made a few tweaks to the recipe the last time I made it, which I think were improvements, but I’ll wait until I have adapted it exactly to my tastes and then I can share all the changes at once.

As an individual of half-Asian descent, a lack of Oyster Sauce in my diet has made a lot of my favourite dishes impossible to re-create.  Of course I have wheat-free Tamari, but there are some recipes that just require some good old fashioned oyster sauce.  In truth, I swear I have read bottle after bottle of Oyster sauce in all the stores, every time hoping that maybe I had managed to miss the one Gluten-Free bottle in the mix all the previous times.  Of course, I continued to be dissapointed, time after time…until last week.  Upon the shelves of Wal-Mart (I’ve also found it at T&T Supermarket), I discovered Choy Sun Oyster Sauce by Lee Kum Kee, a little further investigation on the Lee Kum Kee Website and I also discovered that this particular Oyster Sauce is also MSG-Free!!

Of course I had my hesitations about a gluten-free oyster sauce, but I purchased it and promptly put it to the test.  Now there are many dishes I love, that require oyster sauce such as hot pot and steamed pork, but I wanted to test this oyster sauce, so I made some Gai Lan and spread some oyster sauce on top in the traditional fashion. OMG I thought I died and went to heaven.  Oyster Sauce is back and that means, Chinese Cooking is back.  I am currently thinking about wontons (which were fully not worth contemplation without oyster sauce) I think I’ll try sheets of rice noodles, cut into squares as won-ton wrappers.

To add to my smorgasbord of deliciousness, I went to a wedding for a close friend last weekend, and though I was ecstatic to see roast beef for dinner, I was instantly saddened to see the other meat dishes were a chicken with a wild mushroom sauce and a white fish and shrimp with a light herb and garlic sauce, both of which I assumed were thickened with flour.  Imagine my excitement when one of the cooks walked by and assured me that these dishes were thickened ONLY with cornstarch.  They were delicious and I felt so incredibly spoiled!  Unfortunately, this tidbit of information may have been untrue, or perhaps there was gluten in the salad dressing, flan, mousse or something else that I ate, but I was so disappointed the next day when I realized I had certainly eaten something contaminated.  But those are the chances we take sometimes, and in truth I take such chances so rarely, that this particular time, I would almost say it was worth it.

I met a girl, living the Gluten-Free life while at a forum for work this week.  I could tell she felt awkward, but she asked me about my ethnicity.  You see I am half-Chinese, but often mistaken for full.  She couldn’t resist asking; from her observations, over the past 7 years, she has noticed a trend toward individuals of Irish or Native American descent being Gluten-Free.

Although I certainly do have some Native, and likely some Irish from my mother’s, Caucasian, side of the family, I firmly believe that my Dad (who suffers from symptoms very similar to my own) may actually be the genetic source of my problems.  As to be expected, I get a lot of things from my Dad, not the least of which, is my love of food, of cooking and preparing a meal, of creating baked goods that intoxicate the nostrils with their deliciousness.  Suffice it to say, much of my cooking abilities are a result of hours spent watching/helping my Dad cook.

I have previously alluded to my love of Asian food, but recently realized I haven’t shared any of my recipes.  This is at least partially due to the fact that there really is no recipe; my Dad taught me to cook, the way he was taught, using the senses – touch, site, smell.  Despite this, I was eager to attempt to share my Gluten-Free adaptation of one of my favourties – the Beef and Broccoli my dear old Dad taught me to make.

Note, I have not included quanties for either the meat or the broccoli.  A small pack of flank steak from the grocery store should do, a little meat goes a long way in Chinese cooking.  With regard to the broccoli, traditional Asian recipes use lots of veggies, but I say use a little, use a lot, do what feels good – make it the way you (and your family) like it best.

Gluten-Free Beef and Broccoli

Ingredients:

  • Flank Steak
  • Broccoli
  • 1 medium onion
  • 3 Tbsp GF Tamari
  • 1/4 cup Braggs seasoning
  • 1 Tbsp maple syrup
  • 1.5 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 Tbsp cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup of warm water

* available at an Asian Grocery store

  1. Slice flank steak, across the grain, into long strips – set aside in a medium bowl.
  2. Cut top and bottom off of onion, cut in half so that you have 2 half circles.  Slice onions lengthwise (they shouldn’t look like rings) and add to the flank steak.
  3. Cut broccoli into small pieces – set aside.
  4. Mix together the remaining ingredients (except vegetable oil, cornstarch and water) in a small bowl.
  5. Pour sauce over steak and onions – stir until all meat and onions are coated.  Cover and allow to marinate a minimum of 1 hour.  (Leaving it overnight, or even two nights yields delicious results!)
  6. Heat vegetable oil in a wok or large frying pan over medium-high heat.
  7. Once the oil is hot, add the meat mixture.  Cover with a lid, stirring occasionally until the onions have softened and the steak is no longer pink.
  8. Add the broccoli and stir until coated with sauce.  Cover with a lid, stirring occasionally until the broccoli is bright green and cooked to your tastes.
  9. Stir cornstarch into warm water and mix well.  Pour into the Beef and Broccoli and stir well.  Once sauce has thickened, Immediatley remove from heat.
  10. Serve in a bowl with steaming hot rice and chopsticks.  Enjoy!