gong bao-pao-powerful spice is what's up, dudes.
everybody says it different.
americans notoriously eff up pronunciation, at the best of times,
but when you add in an extra degree of confusion,
surrounding phonetics and dialects,
you get a sad subgum sloppiness with a name that only slightly resembles
the sounds that compose the original title of the tastiness in your bowl.
do you have any idea what i mean?
i didn't think so.
i'm talking about gong bao dou fu!!!
kung pow tofu?
now you get it.
i made a very loose version of it last night.
mainly, i had tofu, and chilis, and rice, and peanuts,
and from there, sort of appropriated techniques and tastes to make something
not quite gong, but definitely more than just kung, if you catch my drift.
here's what it looked like when i was finished searing and sauce-soaking all the stuff:
that's some spicy spice, neighbors.
i used two pans, and a pot, to get what i needed from each component.
in one HOT pan, i fried those tofu cubes in sesame oil,
ok, ok, i blended it with a bit of vegetable oil, but you get the idea.
when it was browned on all sides,
i tossed in half a cup of dry-roasted unsalted peanuts,
in a mixture of paprika, red chili flakes, mirchi 3-spice,
with lots of black pepper, and a quick zap of flour and cornstarch.
it was like two teaspoons of flour, and a tablespoon of cornstarch,
and i shook the holy sh!t out of the pan, until everything was evenly coated.
a tablespoon of agave, and a whole lotta shakin' is what'll give that tofu a lil crispy spicy skin,
and protect y'nuts from being underappreciated.
you can't over-peanut this thing, either, so don't be a baby about tossin' 'em in there.
they're good, and essential, so hook it up, man.
so that's the tofu and peanuts.
there's also the veggies in SAUCE.
without the veggies, you're kind of missing out.
are ready for the list?
here you go:
1/2 onion, diced;
1 habanero, minced;
1 smaller jalapeno, diced;
1/2 serrano chili, diced;
1 T anaheim chili, minced;
3 cloves chopped garlic;
1 celery stalk, cut into tiny squares;
1/3 cup black beans;
3 red radishes, chopped;
7 very small red peppers, cut into quarters, lengthwise.
give all that a few minutes on high heat with a dollop of veggie oil,
and then douse that whole medley of spicy peppery goodness in sauce.
SAUCE GONG kaPOW!
2 T soy sauce;
2 T rice wine vinegar;
1 tsp cayenne ho'sauce;
1 tsp ea. GPOP;
33 turns of coarse ground black pepper;
1 blop of sesame oil;
1 1/2 tsp non-GMO organic corn starch;
2 tsp crushed hot red pepper flakes.
drop that in, stir it quickly, and thicken it all up good and proper.
friends, it rally is that simple.
sauce and veggies,
tofu and spice dust,
if you don't know how to make rice, get off the planet, there's no room for you here.
but, for realsies, though.
rice, veg, and 'fu, in order,
you've GOT to add a little green onion,
and a bit of crisp fresh radish,
and top it off with a sprankle of cilantro.
too much is the right amount.
that's why i even hit it with a few front-of-the-face hot jalapeno circles at the end,
just to freak it off with the all-over heat profile.
habanero gets you in the glands,
jalapeno is a top palate spice,
and then there's the cayenne and serrano and anaheim,
to get that surround-sound full-mouth undertongue throb going on...
i do what i do, dudes.
that's mostly work and make food.
oh, sure, there's other stuff.
like, if circumstances are exceptionally upbeat, i may make some personal art;
and as time allows, i write to you, in these open letter recipe cards;
there's also the matter of crabtree the neediest little milkman on earth,
and his whinging mewling for attention at every available instance...
i do two things-
i work, and i cook.
and while i work at cooking, it's a lot more rewarding, despite only ever costing me money.
that's pretty telling, isn't it?
what i do for money, versus what i work at for free.
i can't have one without the other,
so i count myself fortunate that the labor i get compensated for is so cool.
i wonder if i'd be as motivated to make supper
if i'd just swung a hammer all day on a cold windy rooftop?
i have my doubts,
but i've also got the heat cranked at the studio,
and a whole bunch of cookies and cakes there, too.
i call that a victory.
i work to make food, and i make food to win the day.
falling asleep on a full stomach,
with a full day ahead of me is pretty damned good news,
and i'm grateful for the time have been given;
never quiet, never soft.....