The Soy Boy saga begins with a recipe as unfamiliar to as this whole experience.
Recipe Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen: Ingredients: 2 cups Water Salt ½ oz shiitake mushrooms, dried 1 Tbsp Sichuan peppercorns 12 Scallions 28 oz soft tofu, cut into ½-inch cubes 9 Garlic cloves, peeled 1 (3-inch) piece of ginger, peeled and cut into ¼-inch rounds Chili Powder Sesame Oil 1 ⅓ cup Broad Bean Chili Paste 1 Tbsp Fermented Black Beans ¼ cup Grapeseed Oil 4 oz Fresh Shiitake Mushrooms 1 Tbsp Cornstarch
Instructions: 1. Microwave water, 1/2 tsp salt, and dried mushrooms in a large covered bowl until steaming, about 1 minute. Let sit for about 5 minutes until softened, about 5 minutes. Drain mushrooms in a fine-mesh strainer, reserving liquid. 2. Set soaked mushrooms aside and return liquid to the large bowl. 3. Place peppercorns in a small bowl and microwave until fragrant, 15 to 30 seconds. Let cool completely. Once cool, grind in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle (you should have 1 ½ tsp). 4. Using the side of the chef's knife, lightly crush white parts of scallions, then cut scallions into 1-inch pieces. Place tofu and scallions in a bowl with the reserved mushroom liquid and microwave for 5-7 minutes until steaming. Let it rest while preparing the remaining ingredients. 5. Process garlic, ginger, chili paste, and black beans in a food processor until coarse paste forms, 1 to 2 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add ¼ cup vegetable oil, chili powder, and 1 tsp peppercorns and continue to process until smooth paste forms, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Transfer spice paste to the bowl. 6. Place reserved soaked mushrooms and fresh shiitake mushrooms in a now-empty processor and pulse until finely chopped, 15 to 20 pulses (do not overprocess). Heat 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and mushroom mixture in a large saucepan over medium heat, breaking up mushrooms with a wooden spoon until mushrooms begin to brown and stick to the bottom of the saucepan, 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer mushroom mixture to the bowl. 7. Add remaining 2 Tbsp vegetable oil and spice paste to the now-empty saucepan and cook, stirring frequently, until paste darkens and oil begins to separate from paste, 2 to 3 minutes. Gently pour tofu with mushroom liquid into the saucepan, followed by hoisin, sesame oil, and mushroom mixture. Cook, gently stirring frequently, until the dish comes to simmer, 2 to 3 minutes. Whisk soy sauce and cornstarch together in a small bowl. Add cornstarch mixture to the saucepan and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until thickened, 2 to 3 minutes longer. 8. Transfer to a serving dish, sprinkle with remaining peppercorns and serve. (Mapotofu can be refrigerated for up to 24 hours.)
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