My family loves tofu and we are always looking for ways to use it. I usually buy it at Costco and put it in the freezer and pull it out as needed. Doing this changes the consistency a little, making it a bit spongier, but it works for what I usually use it for.
I wanted something with a fresh sauce and a little kick. Fresh minced ginger, garlic and crushed red pepper sounded perfect. What we ended up with was perfect. If you like a lighter coating of sauce cut the recipe in half. My family likes it a bit saucy especially when served with rice.
Szechuan Green Beans and Tofu
1 pound extra firm tofu
1 pound fresh green beans
1/2 cup water, divided
1/4 cup + 3 tablespoons soy sauce
1-1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
3 teaspoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
6 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
2tablespoons rice vinegar
5-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
1 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
Place the tofu on on a layer of paper towels. Cover with another layer of paper towels and place a large book on top to press out as much of the liquid in the tofu as possible. This can be done layered as follows from bottom to top: paper towels, tofu, paper towels, piece of plastic wrap (to protect the book if this is what you use) and topped with a heavy book. I have also placed the bottom layer of paper towels on a plate, then the tofu, topped with more paper towels, another plate and then a heavy book. By pressing out as much of the fluid as possible you allow the tofu to absorb more of the flavors you will be cooking with. Press the tofu for about 15 to 20 minutes.
In a small mixing bowl combine 1/4 cup of the water, soy sauce, tomato paste, sugar, 2 tablespoons sesame oil, rice vinegar, red pepper and 1-1/2 tablespoons of corn starch. Whisk until well combined.
Prepare green beans by snapping off the ends and breaking into the size you prefer. Cut tofu into bite size cubes, place it in a medium mixing bowl and toss with remaining 4 tablespoons of corn starch. Coating the tofu with corn starch will give it a crisp coating when you cook it.
In a large skillet heat 2 tablespoons of sesame oil. Add the tofu and cook over medium high heat until lightly brown and crispy, stirring occasionally. Remove tofu from skillet and set aside.
Reduce heat to medium, add last 2 tablespoons of sesame oil, mince ginger, garlic and green beans. Cook, stirring constantly for about 2 minutes. Add the remaining 1/4 cup of water, place a tight fitting lid on the skillet and about 4 minutes until the green beans are tender but still crisp. Add the soy sauce mixture to the green beans and cook about 2 minutes until the sauce thickens.
Add the cooked reserved tofu, stir and cook about 1 minute until heated through. Serve with rice.