Tag: rice

Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl

Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl

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We were watching Mulan the other night, and the scene at the beginning where Mulan is making her first appearance as Ping came onto the screen. Yao is calmed by Chien-Po, who picks him up and chants something that sounds like a string of nonsense, but a few words are recognizable. The only one I really heard, however, was “tofu.”

Did I mention I was hungry when I started watching this?

I lived for the first two years of college on tofu and bad cafeteria pizza. While I don’t eat pizza much anymore, tofu has stuck with me. Add to it that one of my roommates through college was Japanese-American and from Hawaii… we ate a lot of tofu. One of the things I liked was Ma Po Tofu. But I didn’t have any mix, and short of ordering it online, there’s nowhere here to buy it.

So I decided, as I watched Mulan, that I could take the same basic concept and create my own dish. Thus, Chien-Po’s Tofu Bowl was born!

If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you can easily substitute veggie meat in this rather than including the ground meat. Regardless of your food preferences, I would recommend two things for certain – serve this with plain white rice, and make sure you use extra stock. You can add cornstarch or arrowroot powder to the sauce to thicken it if you want, but if you let this reduce too much, it will be REALLY salty. The soy sauce and black bean sauce are pretty salty on their own – reduced down they can be too much.

First, chop all the veggies. Don’t be like me and pull things out and try to prep as you go. It usually slows things down and something might burn. I’m getting better about prepping first, and I have to tell you it really makes things easier. When you’re chopping your onions and peppers, I would recommend a pretty fine dice. Then again, I am one of those weird people who doesn’t like huge chunks of veg in my dish. If you don’t have a problem with that, you can just rough chop them. Whatever makes you happy. It may change how long they need to saute and soften a bit, but you can judge that. I trust you.

Once everything is prepped, heat your olive oil in a big non stick pan. It is better to have too big a pan than not big enough. After you get the tofu in and you try to stir it around, you don’t want to have to worry about flipping it all over the stove. Not that I’ve done that or anything.

Chien Po Tofu Bowl Onions and Peppers

Once you’ve got the oil heated, dump in your onions, peppers, and garlic. Continue to saute these for about 10 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and softened a bit. After it hits that point, add in your ground meat and brown it off. When it is cooked through, drain off any excess fat.

Next add your sauces, broth, and seasonings. Don’t add any extra salt! You don’t need it. Trust me. After you have everything in, make sure everything is well combined and the broth is simmering. Let it cook for a few minutes. While its doing its thing, drain your tofu and cut it into small cubes. You can do big ones if you like, but when I did it the first time, I found the big ones had a tendency to end up a little torn if you weren’t paying attention when stirring them in.

Put your tofu in the pan and gently stir it into the sauce. You want to make sure its coated in sauce. Let it simmer for a few more minutes. You don’t need to cook the tofu, but you want to give it a chance to absorb some of the sauce flavors and warm up.

Chien-Po's Tofu Bowl

Once its done turn off the heat, and get your bowls of white rice ready. Serve some of the tofu mixture right over top. If you don’t own a rice cooker, I highly recommend them. I always manage to screw up rice made in a regular saucepan. Its either not done all the way through, or its stuck to the bottom of the pan. With the rice cooker, I don’t have those issues, and its relatively inexpensive. As a bonus, the one I bought also comes with a steaming tray that fits over the top.

 

 

Chien Po's Tofu Bowl

 

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Chien-Po's Tofu Bowl
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
30 mins
 
Ingredients
  • 1 lb ground pork, turkey, or beef
  • 1 block firm or extra firm tofu (usually 12-16 oz), drained and cubed
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1 large bell pepper, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 tbsp black bean garlic sauce
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 c chicken or beef broth, or veg stock
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2-3 tbsp sweet thai chili garlic sauce
Instructions
  1. Chop and mince all ingredients. Heat olive oil in a large, nonstick skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add onions, peppers, and garlic.

  2. Saute until onions become soft and translucent, around 7-10 minutes. If it looks like it needs more liquid, add a few tablespoons of broth to the pan.

  3. Add your ground meat and brown off the meat. Drain off any excess fat.

  4. Add in all the spices and sauces, and allow to simmer for 1-2 minutes. Add in the tofu and gently stir into the mixture.

  5. Cook for another couple of minutes, until the tofu is warm and well coated in the sauce. 

  6. Serve over rice. 

chien-po tofu bowl

Louis’ Favorite Chicken Gumbo – Princess and the Frog Inspired Dinner!

Louis’ Favorite Chicken Gumbo – Princess and the Frog Inspired Dinner!

After watching The Princess and the Frog the other night, I had the urge to try to make something more like what Tiana would cook in her restaurant. I ruled out beignets (at least this time) because I didn’t have the time, and while I love a good pastry, I don’t need to eat a million of them. So instead, we decided on chicken and sausage gumbo.

This version I created from several recipes I’ve found online and in cookbooks. If I had to tell you one specific recipe it was adapted from, I’d say probably Emeril’s – but it was more than just one! I bought file powder months ago with the intention of making gumbo, so the research had already been in the works. This evening just seemed to be the ideal time to try it!

I went out with my list of ingredients and picked up the few things I needed. Mostly it was the andouille sausage and peppers. I like red bell peppers better than green, so I almost never have those on hand. But I was warned in the past by friends that red wouldn’t taste the same in the “trinity” of onions, celery, and peppers, so I wanted to make sure I bought the right thing!

Now, before we get into making this, I must give you one disclaimer – I have no connections to Louisiana (outside of a few friends) and I’ve never been there. So I fully admit that this may not be “true” Louisiana gumbo – its just my take on the dish. I’ve tried to do it justice.

Onto the process – the first thing you want to do is chop up all the vegetables and pull out all the spices. I had plans to take lovely pictures of all the ingredients all lined up, but I made this and had to empty the spice cabinet to find a couple things and it kind of looked like my kitchen exploded. So I didn’t. I’m sorry.

Once you have all of that together, you are going to pull out a big stock pot and put it over medium-high heat. I also like to put the chicken stock into another pot on the stove to heat – putting hot liquid in the pot really helps, rather than cold. It isn’t mandatory, but I would encourage you to try it!

The first part of this recipe is getting the roux made and to the proper color. A roux is simply a mixture of flour and fat that you whisk together and cook to get the flour taste out, and toasty flavor in. Depending on how long you cook it, and the color it turns, the flavor can be mild or seriously nutty. Its other purpose, and probably the biggest purpose, is to thicken whatever you’re putting it in.

For this recipe, I used bacon drippings that I had in the fridge. Not exactly low-cal, but its BACON. How can this possibly be wrong? Anyway, you’re going to put a whole cup of it (I didn’t have quite enough, so I added a little butter – bacon and butter. Yum.) in your pan and let it melt. When it is completely melted, you’re going to whisk in a cup of flour. You want it smooth, and you’re going to continue to whisk it until your roux turns a nice chocolate brown. At first you’ll think that it will NEVER change color. But once it starts, it goes fast! When you are doing this part, don’t answer the phone or wander away from the pot. The second you do it will turn black, and that’s not a good thing. If it gets black flakes in it, its burnt, and you’ll have to throw it all out and start over. No one wants that!

Once that’s done, you can ditch the whisk and use a wooden spoon. Grab your diced veggies, because now you need to add your “trinity” – the green pepper, onion, and celery. Let it cook for a few minutes (about 5) stirring it often. Then dump in the sliced andouille. At this point, it should smell pretty good. Next, add your spices.

I will caution you about one thing – I marked the cayenne pepper as optional. I am a total wuss when it comes to hot things. I’ve gotten better since I got married because my husband likes spicier dishes. But I haven’t got a lot of heat tolerance. I would recommend holding the cayenne until the end, when it has had a chance to cook and you can taste it. I forgot that creole seasoning has cayenne in it already. So when I added everything in mine, I realized it was a teeny bit more spicy than I intended. It was still good, and I could eat it, but I figured I’d warn you.

Either way, stir in the spices before you add the liquid, because it lets them get a little bit of heat on them and can toast a bit. Just stir them in for about a minute, and pour in 3 quarts of chicken broth, the sugar, and the Worcestershire sauce. Stir this until the mixture is smooth and there aren’t any lumps.

Add the chicken, which you’ve cut into 1-2 inch pieces, and stir. You can use breast or thighs. Many people recommend thighs, but to me it is a personal preference. I don’t really like dark meat, so I chose to use breasts. It worked just fine. Once you stir those in, put it on a low simmer and let it cook for about 45 minutes.

At the end, taste it, add your vinegar and a couple extra teaspoons of file powder, and the cayenne (if you want it), and let it cook a few minutes more.

Then just serve this over white rice, and enjoy! If you try the recipe, I’d love to hear what you think!

*Please be aware that this post contains affiliate links. By clicking on any of these links and purchasing the product, I receive a small commission from the company.

Louis' Favorite Chicken Gumbo

table rating
This is a Table recipe – mainly because it requires advance prepping and the grill. Its worth the wait though!
Louis' Favorite Chicken Gumbo
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Louis' Favorite Chicken Gumbo
Prep Time
30 mins
Cook Time
1 hrs
Total Time
2 hr 15 mins
 
This recipe is adapted from several I've seen, including Emeril's. It was inspired after watching Princess and the Frog!
Course: Main Dish
Cuisine: Movie Dishes
Servings: 6 people
Author: cookwcharacter
Ingredients
  • 1 c bacon fat/oil/butter
  • 1 c flour
  • 1 large green bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 large white onion, diced
  • 1 stalk celery, diced
  • 1 pound andouille sausage, sliced
  • 1 pound chicken breast, cut into 1" chunks (you can use thighs if you like.)
  • 3 qt chicken stock
  • 1/2 tsp thyme
  • 1 heaping tsp creole seasoning
  • 1/4 tsp ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp gumbo file powder
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tbsp worchestershire sauce
  • 2 tbsp apple cider or red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
Instructions
  1. Put your butter or bacon fat into a heavy stockpot. When it has melted, whisk in your flour until it is smooth. Over medium to medium high heat, continue to whisk this roux until it is a chocolate brown color.
  2. Add your onion, celery, and pepper to the mix and turn down the heat to medium low. Cook the mixture for around 5 minutes.
  3. Add your sliced sausage to the pot and cook for a few minutes. Next add all the spices (except the 1/2 tsp cayenne) and stir them for a minute or two to heat up and toast a bit.
  4. Add the chicken stock, stirring constantly until most of the lumps are gone.
  5. Let the mixture simmer on the stove for around 45 minutes. Near the end, add the vinegar, and the extra 1/2 tsp cayenne (if desired). At this point you will also add another 2 tsp of file powder, if you taste the gumbo and decide it needs a little more flavor.
  6. Pour over rice and enjoy!