When it comes to comfort food, the simplest dishes are often the most comforting of all. When I was a kid, my go-to dish was just a bowl of rice with a raw egg on top. A touch of salt or a dash of soy sauce, and I was good to go. It was years later that I learned that it was also a common dish in Japan. It’s called tamago gohan and often also includes a sprinkle of furikake. In any case, I didn’t think my taste was so weird anymore.
Speaking of simplicity, this braised tofu recipe is one of my true favourites. I found it in a magazine one day, thought it looked good so I cut it out and taped it to the wall at the restaurant. There it remained for about a year until I actually had the time to try it out a few weeks ago. Man, was I blown away. If you appreciate the wonder that is tofu, you’ll love this dish too. According to the recipe, braised tofu is popular among children because of the simple flavour profile. It’s savory, the texture is silky, and the sauce is perfect for enveloping the rice in that wonderful soy and garlic flavour. What else is there to say that’s good about it? It’s cheap, simple to cook, delicious, and doesn’t require a huge list of ingredients. It’s got all the attributes of a good comfort food dish. Let’s quit talking about braised tofu and start cooking it.
You will need: for 4
- 1 box of medium firm tofu, drained, pressed, and cut into ¾” cubes
- 2 tablespoons dark soy sauce
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons corn starch
- 1 teaspoon chicken stock powder or MSG (yeah, I said the M word)
- 3 large cloves garlic, sliced
- 2 tablespoons oil
Start by combining the dark soy, sugar, corn starch, chicken powder (or MSG) in a small bowl with 3 tablespoons of warm water. Set aside. Heat the oil in a wok on medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, as you move it around. Add the tofu, gently toss to coat, and cook for about 2 minutes to heat through. Add the sauce, stir everything til the sauce thickens (it will happen fast), gently toss to coat the tofu. Done.
The beautiful thing about the sauce is that it’s so versatile. We made a side of baby bok choy using the same sauce, just by swapping out the dark soy with shaoxing cooking wine or sake. Simply blanch the bok choy, drain, pop back into an oiled wok. Add the sauce, coat, and done.
You can also customize the sauce to your liking with whatever additions you have on hand like slivered ginger, minced garlic, chili, lemongrass, etc. As for the tofu, you can also add ground pork, lamb, mushrooms, chives, kimchi… the possiblities are endless.
Take this recipe, make it yours, and have fun in the kitchen!