Tofu with Bean Paste, Garlic, and Ginger

This was inspired by Ma Po Tofu, a dish that my father used to make when I was young. Although it’s typically made with ground pork and a spicy bean paste, today I made a vegetarian version using lots of fresh ginger and miso. Full disclosure: if they had ground pork at the store I would have used it. I’m so glad they didn’t because it turned out great without – something about all the minced ginger makes it taste and feel meaty. This rich and saucy dish comes together quickly and makes good use of what you may already have on hand. I used cornstarch to thicken it, but you could go without. I just like the way the thickened sauce sticks to the tofu.

Tofu with Bean Paste, Garlic and Ginger

Serves 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 garlic clove, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 scallions, thinly sliced, green and white parts separated

1 tablespoon Japanese miso

1 pound firm tofu, cut into 1-inch cubes

2/3 cup water

2 tablespoons soy sauce

Dash of fish sauce

1 tablespoon corn starch plus 2 tablespoons water

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil over moderate heat and cook the garlic, ginger and the scallion whites, stirring frequently, until browned and softened, about 5 minutes. Add the miso and stir to combine.
  2. Add the tofu and brown on all sides, stirring occasionally. Once the tofu is well browned add the water, soy sauce, and fish sauce and stir well, scraping all of the browned bits from the bottom of the skillet. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce to a simmer.
  3. Meanwhile, combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl. Add the cornstarch mixture (as much as you want) to the skillet and stir well. Let simmer for another 5 minutes or so, until the sauce has thickened to your liking.
  4. Remove from heat and serve immediately garnished with the sliced scallion greens.

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