This recipe from Jaden Hair's The Steamy Kitchen Cookbook is the kind of pantry meal that I can get behind. If, like me, you have most of these sauces in the fridge, then all you need is a block of tofu, one serrano chile, and some scallions.
The tofu is pan-fried until golden, then removed. The sauce gets poured in and cooked for less than a minute. If you're totally prepared, this will be done in under 15 minutes, though there's absolutely no shame in taking your time and stretching this out to 20 minutes.
The only challenge is getting the tofu perfectly browned. If you're not careful, the tofu can cook unevenly, and even turn black in spots. That said, if there is too little oil, the tofu may stick to the pan. Everything else is a breeze. The sauce is simple, whisked together in a bowl, and the chiles and scallions are sprinkled on at the end.
- 2 tablespoons Chinese dark soy sauce
- 2 tablespoons honey
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sambal oelek (chili garlic hot sauce)
- one 14-ounce block firm tofu
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 serrano, stemmed, seeded, and sliced
- 1 scallion, chopped
Mix together the soy sauce, honey, rice vinegar, and sambal oelek in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
Cut the tofu into ½-inch thick slices, which are approximately 3-inches long. Dry the tofu pieces on paper towels.
Place a large saute pan or wok over high heat. When smoking, add just enough of the canola oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add as many of the tofu slices as will fit in one layer. Cook until tofu is browned on the bottom, two to three minutes. Flip the pieces with a pair of tongs, and brown on the other side, about two minutes. When done, drain the tofu pieces on paper towels. Repeat process with remaining tofu pieces, adding more oil if necessary.
Pour off all but 1 teaspoon of the canola oil, and turn the heat down to medium. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Pour in the soy sauce mixture, and cook until it thickens slightly, about 30 seconds. Turn off the heat.
Divide the tofu between two plates, and pour half of the sauce over each. Garnish with the chopped serrano and scallion.