Stir-fried Beancurd with Vegetables

For a number of years, I have gone to Bangkok to cook at the Oriental Hotel for a vegetarian festival and have been able to sample many vegetarian dishes from its Thai chef. Here is one of them, simply pairing beancurd with assertive spices and robustly flavoured vegetables in a colourful vegetable dish.

It may serve as a main course or an alternative vegetable side dish. To be strictly vegetarian, simply substitute light soy sauce for the fish sauce.

Ingredients

  • 450 g (1 lb) firm, fresh beancurd
  • 15 g (½ oz) dried cloud ear mushrooms
  • 110 g (4 oz) asparagus
  • 110 g (4 oz) fresh baby corn
  • 110 g (4 oz) celery heart
  • 110 g (4 oz) mangetout
  • 400 ml (14 fl oz)groundnut (peanut) oil, for deep-frying
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons thinly sliced shallots
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or light soy sauce
  • 1 large fresh red Thai chilli, seeded and sliced
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 3 tablespoons water

Method

Drain the beancurd thoroughly, then set it on kitchen paper and continue to drain for 15 minutes. Gently cut the beancurd into 2.5 cm (1 in) pieces.

Soak the cloud ears in warm water for 20 minutes. Then rinse well in cold water to remove any trace of sand. Drain thoroughly.

Thinly slice the asparagus on a slight diagonal. Cut the baby corn in half, lengthways. String and thinly slice the celery. Trim the mangetout.

Heat the oil in a wok until it is hot and then deep-fry the beancurd in two batches. When each batch is lightly browned, remove with a slotted spoon and drain well on kitchen paper. Drain off all but 1 tablespoon of oil from the wok. Reserve the oil for later use.

Reheat the wok, and when it is hot, add the salt, pepper, garlic and shallots and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Then add the cloud ears, asparagus, baby corn and celery heart and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Then add the mangetout, fish sauce, chilli and sugar and stir-fry for 1 minute. Now add the water, cover and cook for 1 minute. Return the beancurd to the wok and heat through. Serve at once.

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