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Red-Cooked Tofu

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Serves 4

  • by Mark Scarbrough, Bruce Weinstein from Fine Cooking
    Issue 97

Red-cooking is a traditional Chinese braising technique that uses soy sauce, sugar, and rice wine to flavor the food and give it a dark red color. If you're not a big tofu fan, this easy, aromatic stew might change your mind.

  • 4 medium scallions, thinly sliced (white and green parts separated)
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into small dice
  • 1 cup lower-salt chicken broth or (preferably homemade) vegetable broth
  • 6 Tbs. reduced-sodium soy sauce; more as needed
  • 1/4 cup Shaoxing (Chinese cooking wine) or dry sherry
  • 1-1/2 Tbs. minced fresh ginger
  • 2 tsp. granulated sugar
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 14-oz. packages firm tofu, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 Tbs. seasoned rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. arrowroot or cornstarch

In a large saucepan, combine the scallion whites, carrots, broth, soy sauce, Shaoxing, ginger, sugar, and 1/4 tsp. pepper. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, stirring once or twice. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer gently for 5 minutes. Add the tofu, cover, and continue to simmer gently until the tofu is heated through and has absorbed some of the other flavors, 10 minutes.

In a small bowl, whisk the vinegar and arrowroot until smooth and then stir the mixture into the stew, taking care not to break up the tofu. Stir gently until thickened, about 1 minute. Add more soy sauce to taste, sprinkle with the scallion greens, and serve.

Serving Suggestions

The stew is delicious served over cooked rice or mustard greens.

nutrition information (per serving):
Calories (kcal): 350; Fat (g): 18; Fat Calories (kcal): 160; Saturated Fat (g): 2.5; Protein (g): 34; Monounsaturated Fat (g): 4; Carbohydrates (g): 20; Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 10; Sodium (mg): 960; Cholesterol (mg): 0; Fiber (g): 6;

Photo: Scott Phillips

I'm only lukewarm about tofu, but I like the sauce so much that I've made this several times. My daughter will also eat this, though she generally avoids tofu. I double the sauce ingredients and add some broccoli too.

The trick to keeping the tofu together is to cut it to the size you need and bake it in a 375 degree oven for 15 minutes. This gives the tofu a really nice consistency. Then I added the tofu at the beginning of the simmer process so it could absorb all the flavors better. Really good on cooked rice!

I would not make this dish again. It was easy but had no depth of flavor. I used fresh ginger but was unable to taste it in the finished dish. I had a poor quality sherry. I assume the Shaoxing or better sherry would have had an impact. The sauce was a nice consistency and the color was nice but it was nothing special.

I like the souce, but i did not like the tofu part.

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