Tuesday, February 12, 2008

retro Chinese restaurant food!

Holy yum. The story behind tonight's dinner is hilarious, with a fantastic ending!

Back on New Year's Day, my friend Chelsea invited Dan and I over to her apartment to visit one last time, before she and her family moved down to Arkansas for her husband's job. As we were leaving, she welcomed us to anything out of her fridge or freezer that we were interested in. One of the items we snagged was a box of frozen cream cheese wontons . . . not healthy, certainly, but mighty tasty!

Several weeks ago, I went to prepare the wontons, and horror of horrors, realized I had no sweet-and-sour sauce in the house! I figured I had the ingredients on hand to make some, it was just a matter of finding a recipe. I scoured every single cookbook I had on my shelves, with little luck . . . until I found a recipe in my Betty Crocker Cookbook! The recipe suggested stirring in bell pepper, pineapple, and tomato, and serving over chicken or pork (double ew?) I made half a sauce recipe without the added fruits and veggies, and it hit the spot with the wontons.

THEN, I had sweet-and-sour tofu on the brain. For weeks. Until I finally picked up the ingredients at the Wedgie and got cooking. Results:
Sweet-and-Sour Tofu and steamed broccoli!!

Wowza. This has been the easiest, most satisfying meal I have made in a LONG time. (I think the entire meal was ready in 40 minutes, and that's only because brown rice takes a while.) Seriously, I could lick my plate clean . . . but I won't, I promise. This reminds me so much of the sweet-and-sour chicken I'd get at Chinese restaurants as a kid . . . retro fabulous!

RECIPE: (Adapted from Betty Crocker)
Makes 4 servings
1. Prepare 1 cup brown rice according to package directions. (This should yield about 3 cups cooked rice, or enough for four 3/4-cup portions.)
2. Brown one package of water-packed firm or extra-firm tofu, diced, in a small amount of oil in a large skillet.
3. Drain 1 8-ounce can diced pineapple (drink the juice, because you don't need it for this recipe!) Core and slice one small tomato. Seed and chunk one small green pepper.
4. Combine 1/2 cup water, 1/3 cup white vinegar, 1 teaspoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon soy sauce or tamari, 1/4 teaspoon salt, chili flakes to taste, and 1 clove garlic, peeled and smashed up, in a large glass measuring cup. Stir in 1/2 cup sugar.
5. Combine 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 tablespoons water in a small bowl, and reserve.
6. Once the tofu is reasonably browned, stir in the vinegar-sugar mixture. Stir the sauce, until the sugar dissolves and the sauce begins to boil.
7. Add the cornstarch slurry to the pan, and stir until the sauce returns to a boil, thickens, and clears.
8. Stir in the pineapple, pepper, and tomato, and allow to heat through for one minute.
9. Serve over rice! Accompany with steamed broccoli!

Now -- go make some. Enjoy!


LizNoVeggieGirl said...

wow, what luck (and how ironic) that a Betty Crocker cookbook could come to the rescue - your meal turned out wonderfully!! :0)

bazu said...

I love it- I feel so much better making Chinese food at home- and it always tastes better!

Anonymous said...

Your blog has a new look--nice! And your recipe sounds (and looks) fab by the way...


Judy said...

Ah, don't you just love retro food? Sometimes you will find a recipe in some old unused cookbook that totally knocks your socks off, and sounds like this is one of them!