Tuesday, April 26, 2011

More than just salad

I got some romaine hearts that were on special at Fresh & Easy.  I wasn't thinking salad.  I wasn't thinking grilled.  I was thinking about sauteed.  I was thinking about the way my friend's husband made them.  He is Taishan and an excellent chef, which is good news for my friend because I don't think I've ever seen her cook anything that wasn't Top Ramen.  She does make a very good sou chef, gotta give her credit for that.  When I was visiting one evening, she started washing and chopping 10 minutes before he walked through the door.  After cooking at the restaurant all night long, he started throwing together a simple, yet delicious late night dinner.
The one dish that I still remember is the simplest.  Romaine hearts sauteed with fermented tofu, which tastes kinda like blue cheese made from tofu.  I was skeptical as I watched him prepare this dish.  Up to that point in my life, the only way I've seen romaine hearts prepared has been raw or lightly grilled in a salad.  Plus, fermented tofu???  Really?
He convinced me to give this homestyle dish a try and I was became a convert.   It was light and refreshing.  The fermented tofu added just the right hint of savoriness (I could go fancy and call it "umami") that highlights the seared edges of the romaine.  I am salivating whilst thinking about romaine hearts. Whowouldadunkit?

Umami Romaine Hearts
1 Romaine heart
1/4 cube fermented tofu
1 tsp garlic, minced
1 tbsp vegetable oil

Step 1: Slice the romaine heart lengthwise into 8 pieces.

Step 2: Heat wok or frying pan with 1 tbsp vegetable oil.
Step 3: Add romaine hearts and garlic to pan.  Cook until leaves are just starting to wilt, turning every now and again.

Step 3: Add fermented tofu.  Just 1/4 cube will do, this stuff is potent!

Step 3: Continue cooking until fermented tofu is melted, about 2 minutes.  De-glaze the pan with about 2 tbsp of water in the final 30 seconds if you want some sauce for that rice to soak up.

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