The kitchen door has to be closed during the entire cooking process to block the oil and smoke from tainting the furniture. The full on ventilation needs to be operating at all times from the beginning till the end. The fan "outside" the kitchen needs to be on to help dissipating any greasy coming from the kitchen...and the list goes on...
Seriously, the walls still look white and the furniture still has it wooden shines seeing through my eyes. What can I say, I can stand up and fight for equality, fight for human rights, and fight for world peace. However, under my mother's reign, I'd better keep my mouth shut.
To make the situation better, I've decided to cook something less oily and easier to clean up. In fact, I'm gonna make this dish in her 30 minutes nap time, so she won't even notice a single trace of grease "lingering" in the house.
Chinese inspired tofu and mixed veggies -
- 1 box/400 grams of semi-firm tofu
- 2 cups of beech mushroom and white beech mushroom mix
- 1 dozen okra
- 1 medium carrot
- 1 small bundle of cilantro
- 1/4 cup of dashi (I used triple condensed, katsuo flavored tsuyu)
- 1/4 cup of black vinegar
- 1/4 cup of black bean soy sauce
- 2 cups of water
- 1 tablespoon of sake
- 1 teaspoon of grated ginger
- 1 teaspoon of chili sauce
- Some corn starch/water mixture
- Some sesame oil
Discard the okra stems and slice the remaining. It might get a little bit slimy but it'll help to create a smooth texture later on for this recipe.
Chop off and discard the very bottom stems from the mushroom. Halve lengthwise for the mushroom that are too large in size. Chop off the ends from the carrot, peel, and slice the remaining. Peel and finely chop the ginger. If the ginger is too fibery, grate it instead. Finely chop the cilantro.
Prepare a pot, pour in 2 cups of water, 1/4 cup of dashi, 1/4 cup of black bean soy sauce. Also add in chopped or grated ginger and some chili sauce. Bring to a boil then add in the mushroom and carrot. Give it a quick stir. Bring to a boil again and lower the heat to keep the mixture simmer, about 5 minutes.
Toss in sliced okra along with chopped cilantro. Mix well and cook for another 3 minutes.
Carefully remove the tofu from the box and discard the liquid. Gently transfer the tofu to the pot and cook in the mixture for about 4 minutes on each side. Don't worry about getting the center part of the tofu fully cooked through and colored with the sauce. In fact, the lighter flavored tofu actually works better with slightly salty veggies and sauce.
Once the tofu is done, transfer to a big plate or a bowl -
Mix some corn starch with already boiled water. I used about one tablespoon here but the stickiness can vary greatly depending on the corn starch. I might need 4 tablespoons if using the ones back in CA. Test it with smaller amount first, you can always use more corn starch/water mixture later on.
Slowly pour in the corn starch/water into the pot while stirring the vegetable mixture at the same time to prevent clumping. Adjust the amount used till it reaches desired consistency. Pour the vegetable mixture to the tofu plate. Lastly, drizzle some sesame oil and garnish with cilantro leaves.
The sauce is good with steamed white rice. This dish taste quite like the ones served in an actual Chinese vegetarian restaurant. Don't think of it as a plate of dull veggies. In fact, the sauce got so much flavors. It's salty, sourish, with a touch of sweetness from the black bean soy sauce. There's even a slightly spicy kick down the throat! Thanks to my homemade chili oil!
As for my mom, my plan is to just let her nag. After all, that's what most moms do.