Sunday, September 21, 2008

Vegetable Stir-Fry in Spicy Sauce

Felt a little under the weather the past couple of days. The cold season is definitely here and most of my colleagues at the office are sick. They get it from their children, who in turn get it from other kids in school or at day care. Fortunately, we have the flexibility to work from home sometimes, and a few of my co-workers are smart enough to take advantage of the opportunity to work from home whenever they get a chance or when they’re not feeling well. On the other hand, there are some who don’t have that privilege to work from home for personal reasons or purely for other known reasons (syndicate/union policies). In either case, when we’re feeling really ill, we always have that choice to stay home and rest. As much as I have sympathy for those who have a nasty cold or the flu right now, I’m begging them to stay home to recover and to not share their misery with those who are feeling healthy. I’m just not masochist enough to want to yearn for agony.

As I’m feeling much better today, I’m very appreciative for what I have today in my life and for all the wonderful food this world has to offer us. But today, I’m having a little bit of difficulty to eat because of a huge canker sore I have in my mouth. Not fun. Luckily, I have a great dish in mind that will not only be easy on my mouth, but is also healthy. I’m convinced that any healthy food can be a healing factor and a boost to weak immune systems. This is the perfect time to do this.

On the menu today, I have a wonderful vegetable and tofu stir-fry dish that is full of nutrients and protein. Its added velvety textured and spicy sauce can only bring wholesomeness and comforting warmth to the dinner table.

Preparation: 10 minutes, Cooking: 10 minutes

Recipe “au pif”:
¾ lb soft or semi-firm tofu (roughly 3 tofu blocks), sliced ½ in. thick and fried until golden. Or you can buy the pre-fried tofu at local asian grocery stores

2 cups baby bok choy, washed
1 asian eggplant, or 3 baby eggplants, sliced thinly diagonally
2 cups sugar snaps (strings removed) or green beans, any beans you have in your fridge
1 tsp minced garlic
¾ cup water
1 ½ tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp oyster sauce (or vegetarian oyster sauce, made of mushrooms)
1 tbsp light soya sauce
1 tsp chili paste

2 small red chilis
½ tsp sesame oil
2 tbsp vegetable oil

Heat vegetable oil in wok on medium-high heat. Add in the eggplants and stir for about 30 seconds. Cover and lower heat to medium. Let eggplants cook for about 2 minutes. Check once in a while to make sure it doesn’t burn.

Remove lid, crank up the heat again to high heat. Add in the sesame oil, the garlic, the baby bok choy and the sugar snaps/green beans. Stir well for about 30 seconds. You should hear the vegetables sizzling. Finally, add the tofu and stir.

Mix the water, cornstarch, oyster/vegetarian sauce in a small bowl. Gradually add the mixture to the sizzling vegetables and tofu and stir until the sauce thickens. Add a bit of water if sauce is too thick. Consequently add a bit of oyster/vegetarian sauce to balance the flavours and salt. Stir for about 30 seconds.

Add in the chili paste and the chilis and stir for another 30 seconds. Cover, turn off the heat and let it simmer for another 30 seconds.

Remove lid and stir one last time. Vegetables should not be overcooked. The quick stir-frying should retain their colour and crunch.

Serve immediately with steamed jasmine rice.

Share and enjoy.

Serves 4 people.

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