Recipe: Tofu batons with hot sesame dressing

Recipe: Tofu batons with hot sesame dressing
A revelation of how good tofu can be in the right hands. (Richard Jung)
Total time: 55 minutes

Servings: 4

Note: Adapted from "Beyond the Great Wall." Tofu sticks, also known as bean curd sticks, are available at Chinese and other Asian markets.

3 ounces tofu sticks (4 to 6 sticks)

1 tablespoon peanut oil

1 teaspoon roasted sesame oil

1/2 teaspoon chile pepper flakes

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1/2 teaspoon sugar

1/4 cup fresh cilantro leaves

1. Add 2 inches of water to a medium pot and bring to a boil. Add the tofu sticks, breaking them if necessary to submerge them. Remove from the heat. Weight down the sticks with a plate that fits inside the pot. Cover and let sit for 30 minutes.

2. Remove the plate and drain the tofu well. Cut the sticks into 2-inch lengths, trimming and discarding any tough bits. Cut the sticks lengthwise in halves or into quarters, to make narrow batons. Set aside.

3. Heat a wok or wide heavy pot over medium-high heat. Add the peanut and sesame oils. When the oil is hot, add the chile pepper flakes and the tofu batons and stir-fry for 2 minutes, stirring and pressing on the batons to expose them to the hot surface of the pan.

4. In a small bowl, combine the vinegar, soy sauce and sugar and whisk well, then pour over the tofu batons. Stir-fry briefly to distribute the flavors, and continue to cook until the liquid is mostly absorbed. Remove from the heat.

5. Turn out into a wide shallow bowl. Sprinkle with the cilantro and serve warm or at room temperature.

Each serving: 79 calories; 4 grams protein; 2 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 6 grams fat; 1 gram saturated fat; 0 cholesterol; 506 mg. sodium.