Spicy Basil Tofu


This hot little number is frequently requested in this household.

There’s no such thing as too much basil.

Yield: 4 servings


  • cooked white rice
  • 1 package of medium tofu, diced and patted dry
  • oil for lightly frying
  • a lot of basil, washed and sliced

Stir fry

  • mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp ginger, minced
  • 1 sliced bird’s eye chili


  • chili oil
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp fermented black bean sauce
  • 1 tbsp chili bean sauce
  • 1 tbsp mirin
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp sugar


  1. In a small bowl, stir the sauce ingredients well. Set it aside.
  2. Heat some oil in a skillet on medium-high heat. Lightly fry the tofu and set it aside.
  3. In a hot skillet or wok, fry the ginger, bird’s eye chili and garlic until they become fragrant. Don’t let the garlic brown.
  4. Add the diced onions.
  5. Once the onions become soft, add the bell peppers and mushrooms.
  6. Mix the sauce, stir fried vegetables and tofu together. Adjust the seasonings to taste. Let it continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
  7. Fold the basil into the mixture, and allow it to wilt for 2-3 minutes.
  8. Serve with white rice, topped with a little more chili oil.

Kung Pao Cauliflower Tofu

The smoked tofu really makes this dish, and the dates add some natural sweetness while the smoked serrano pepper creates a playful, unexpected spicy twist.

Yield: 2 servings



  • 1 smoked serrano pepper (dried) – crushed
  • 1 fresh birds eye chili, sliced
  • 1 tbsp minced ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 7 dates, pitted and chopped (could substitute 2 tbsp sugar)
  • 1 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 cup of water
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Sichuan peppercorns, ground (make sure you only use the outer shell of the peppercorn because the black “seed” is very gritty)
  • 1/3 cup of water mixed with 1 tbsp of corn starch

Stir Fry

  • 2 cups of cauliflower florets
  • 1 package of smoked tofu, cubed (1 cm)
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • a handful of whole peanuts
  • oil



  1. In a saucepan, brown the garlic, ginger, serrano pepper, and birds eye chili.
  2. Add the soy sauce, vinegar, water, hoisin sauce, and dates. Stir well.
  3. After simmering for 5 minutes, stir in the Sichuan pepper.
  4. Add the water-cornstarch mixture, and stir well until the sauce thickens.
  5. Remove from heat and let it cool for about 2-3 minutes.
  6. Blend smoothly.

Stir Fry

  1. Dry roast the whole peanuts in a wok or skillet. When they get toasty, set them aside to cool. Once cool, crush or chop them.
  2. Add some oil to the skillet, and fry the tofu.
  3. Once the tofu is quite golden, add the cauliflower and cook until they brown evenly.
  4. Coat in the sauce, and toss with the scallions and peanuts.

Spicy sauteed green beans

Photo 04.07.18, 7 36 57 PM

It’s spicy, crunchy, and juicy… need I say more? I like this as a side dish to a braised tofu main dish over some white rice. It hits the spot, big time. Sometimes, if I have fresh shiitakes on hand, I will toss them in as well.

Serves 3


  • 300g green beans, cleaned and cut into 1in pieces
  • 2 green onions, thinly sliced
  • 2 fresh chillies, sliced
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • some chili oil, to taste
  • 4 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Chinese Five Spice Powder
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp corn starch dissolved in 1/4 cup water


  1. In a small bowl, combine the soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, corn starch mixture, salt, and pepper.
  2. Separately, in a skillet, heat the sesame oil. Add the fresh chili, garlic, ginger, red pepper flakes, and green onions. Fry for about 30-60 seconds.
  3. Before the garlic browns, add the green beans. Stir occasionally. They should be fully cooked in 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the sauce and cook for another minute or so (medium-high heat).
  5. Add extra chili oil to taste.


Green onion flatbread with garlic soy dipping sauce

You could call this a few different names: flatbread, pancakes, Asian roti, etc. The garlic soy sauce livens up this classic Chinese side dish/snack. It’s addictive.

Servings 1 (if you’re a piggy) or 4



  • 1.5 cups of flour
  • 1/2 cup hot water
  • 1/4 tsp ground Chinese Five Spice
  • 4 green onions, sliced thinly
  • Salt
  • 1 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
  • Vegetable oil and a brush

Dipping sauce

  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tbsp water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/2 tsp sugar or honey
  • 1 clove finely minced garlic
  • 1/2 tsp finely minced ginger
  • 1 finely sliced green onion


  1. Mix the flour, sesame seeds, five spice powder, and water until it forms a dough
  2. Knead the dough well (5 min) – it should be quite smooth
  3. Let it rest for 30 minutes, covered
  4. Mix the ingredients for the dipping sauce in a small container and set it aside
  5. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts
  6. Roll each piece into a 7 in circle
  7. Brush the circle with a little oil, cover with scallions, and roll it up tightly (like a fajita/burrito/spring roll)
  8. Coil the burrito tightly into a spiral, and roll it out again
  9. In a hot skillet with some oil, lightly fry each pancake (~3 minutes per side)
  10. Cut into wedges and enjoy with the dipping sauce

Vegetarian Dan Dan Noodles

A versatile, spicy Szechuan dish that makes me drool. It’s originally made with pork, but I think my vegetarian version is just as good. The chili oil I used in this recipe was easily made in about 30 minutes¬†, and most of that time was just the spices simmering in the oil. However, the lazier cook can substitute premade chili oil from the Asian store. This dish is typically served with sui mi ya cai, Chinese fermented vegetables. I can’t find any vegetarian versions of this at the Asian grocery (and I don’t really want to make my own), so I either skip this altogether or substitute my vegetarian Kimchi, but it really just depends on my mood. Not a dealbreaker.

I would say the flavor profile is

  • creamy from the tahini
  • sweet from the hoisin sauce and the sugar
  • there’s a quick jab from the green onion and a strong overhand right punch from the garlic
  • floral notes from the Szechuan pepper
  • spicy from the chili oil
  • nutty from the tahini and peanuts

Yield: 2 servings



  • 2 tbsp sesame paste (tahini)
  • 2 tsp hoisin sauce
  • 2 tsp red wine (ok, you’re supposed to use Shaoxing wine, but who has time to buy this many specialty ingredients? Maybe when I find another use for it we can replace the red wine with the proper stuff)
  • 3 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp Chinese five spice powder
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground Szechuan peppercorns (make sure you only crush the outer peppercorn shell; grinding the black pit will make the dish gritty and sandy)
  • 1 tsp chili oil (mine is super spicy, so a little goes a long way, but you can fiddle with this as you please)
  • 5 cloves minced garlic

Stir fry

  • 2 tsp sesame oil for sauteing the vegetables and tofu
  • 2 servings of cooked noodles (any variety of Asian noodle will do)
  • 2-3 cups of shiitake mushrooms or oyster mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 block of tofu (diced and fried) or an equivalent amount of tofu skin
  • 1 sliced bell pepper
  • your choice of: extra green onions, extra mushrooms, baby bok choy, one sliced red onion
  • optional: 1/4 cup chopped toasted peanuts
  • chopped green onions for garnish
  • a pinch of salt, to taste


  1. You can do these steps simultaneously:
    • If you’ve decided to use the fried tofu option, start by heating a skillet on medium high heat with some oil. Fry the tofu.
    • Mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl and set it aside.
    • Prepare the vegetables – washing and chopping, etc.
  2. Stir fry the vegetables.
  3. Add the sauce to the pan, stir well.
  4. Adjust with any additional chili oil or salt.
  5. Serve over the cooked noodles.
  6. Top with the green onions and peanuts.

Mapo Dofu (Mapo Tofu)

I’m in love. This is my favorite Chinese dish to make, hands down. Read on for a hearty and mildly spicy vegan-friendly dish (I hear adding bits of ground pork makes it carnivore-friendly, and you can increase the spiciness for all you spicy-hot lovers). This makes about four servings.


  • 1 block of tofu (I’ve tried it with sprouted, firm, medium, and soft tofu. It depends on the texture of tofu you prefer; I like lots of texture so I use the sprouted, extra firm variety)
  • 1 lb. finely chopped fresh mushrooms (I like to split it 50-50 between portabellas and shiitakes, but I’ve used only portabellas when the shiitakes were out of season. It’s just as good!)
  • 2 tsp. minced garlic
  • 2 tsp. minced ginger
  • 2-3 tbsp. peanut oil (can substitute olive oil or canola oil)
  • 1.5 tsp. fermented black beans (I know their name is weird, but they are salty little nuggets of delicious flavor.)


  • 1 tbsp. chili bean sauce (do 2 tbsp. if you like it spicy)


  • 0.25 tsp. ground szechuan pepper (commonly called “prickly ash” at the Asian grocery, increase up to 1 tsp. for added spiciness)


  • 1 cup vegetable stock
  • 1 tbsp. soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp. cornstarch mixed with 2 tbsp. cold water
  • 4-5 thinly sliced green onions
  • cooked white rice (as much as you like)


  1. Make the rice. Let it cook while you’re making the rest of this dish.
  2. Dice the tofu block into small pieces. Set aside so it can drain.
  3. Saute the minced garlic and ginger in hot oil until they’re browned.
  4. Add the mushrooms. Saute until they’re fully cooked.
  5. Add chili bean sauce, black beans, optional red szechuan pepper flakes.  Stir-fry for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add the vegetable stock, soy sauce, and tofu. Do a taste test to see whether you’d like more spiciness (more pepper flakes) or saltiness (more soy sauce).
  7. Cover frying pan, turn heat down to low, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  8. Add cornstarch to the desired thickness.
  9. Serve with the white rice, topped with the scallions.