Glazed Tofu With Chile and Star Anise
This sauce — a dark, star anise-spiced caramel intermingled with rice wine, soy sauce, ginger and scallions — builds sweet, acidic and umami notes as it coats and infuses tofu. Sichuan hui guo rou, or twice-cooked pork, inspired the technique used here with tofu: The blocks are first seared whole, then torn into bite-size pieces and returned to the pan, where the craggy edges absorb the sauce. Additions from your pantry, such as a spoonful of doubanjiang, or fermented broad bean paste, fermented black beans or chile oil can invite deeper, more complex flavors. Serve warm with steamed rice and stir-fried greens.
- Serves: 4 persons
- 2(14-ounce) packages firm tofu, drained
- 2tablespoons neutral oil, such as canola or grapeseed
- Kosher salt
- ¼cup granulated sugar
- 1whole star anise
- 1cup vegetable broth or stock
- ¼cup Shaoxing wine
- ¼cup dark soy sauce (see Tip)
- 2garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1(1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger, scrubbed and thinly sliced
- 1small hot dried chile
- 6scallions, whites cut into 1/2-inch pieces, greens thinly sliced
- Steamed rice, for serving
Step 1Place the tofu blocks between paper towels and press gently to remove excess liquid.
Step 2In a large skillet or cast-iron pan, warm the oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Season both sides of the tofu with salt and place in the pan; sear without moving until the contact side is browned, about 4 minutes. Turn the pieces over and sear the other side until browned, about 3 minutes. Transfer the tofu to a plate.
Step 3Carefully add 1/2 cup water, the sugar and star anise to the pan. (The mixture will sputter and steam.) Cook, stirring, until the syrup is reduced and turns deep amber, 4 to 5 minutes. Pour in the stock carefully (again being mindful of sputtering), Shaoxing, soy sauce, garlic, ginger and chile and cook, stirring frequently, until reduced, syrupy and glossy, 5 to 7 minutes.
Step 4Use your fingers to break the tofu into 1/2-inch pieces, return to the pan and add the scallion whites. Toss to coat with the sauce and cook until warmed through, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove and discard the star anise and dried chile. Garnish with scallion greens and serve immediately with steamed rice.