Iron Skillet Tofu With Asparagus, Egg Noodle, and Three Pepper
50 minutes to prepare and serve 5 waiters who are waiting on customers for an hour in sleepy town, but no one shows up, so the cook feeds them so they won’t lose their minds and quit.
This is my take on spicy Sichuan pepper stir fry. My ingredients were affordable, but some of them were uncommon, like the Sichuan ‘peppercorns’. and the chile de árbol. Both of these ingredients are dried, so they have incredibly long shelf life. Once you have these two magnificent spices, the rest of the dish is easy. The dish is notable for the unique effect that prickly ash peppercorn husks (Sichuan ‘pepper’) have on the mouth. The ground husks numb the lips, tongue and gums. At the same time, the entire mouth feels like it is vibrating.
That is why I long for the Sichuan flavor. It feels like a citrusy Buddha’s Hand ultrasound treatment on your face. The prickly ash is also known as the toothache tree because of the analgesic properties of the pepper. Enjoy this delicious, spicy, strange dish.
I use a sauté instead of a stir-fry approach in order to get a sear on the base vegetables and the tofu. The smokey flavor is enhanced by the Sichuan pepper. It’s all about the peppers in this dish: cracked black, pounded Sichuan, and toasted chile de árbol. I will give you the cost breakdown of the Ingredients (Table 1), then show the supplies needed (pictured in Figure 1, named in Table 2) before the description of the preparation of the dish.
FACILITY: You need two range top burners to make this meal, and a sink with running water, soap and a clean towel.
The preparation is a slow build with zero wasted time, so watch the stopwatch buttons. At certain times, some of the dishes can be washed during preparation. Clean as you go so you don’t need to hire a dishwasher.
This dish costs about $10.67
|1 lb. straight Nepali Egg Noodle||$ 2 .99|
|1 lb. Firm Tofu, split and pressed dry||$ 1 .72|
|1 lb. Asparagus, cut 2″ lengths||$ 1.99|
|1 Onion, diced||$ .22|
|3 Carrots, peeled and cut large julienne 1″ lengths||$ .17|
|2 Celery, small dice||$ .10|
|1 Tbsp Sichuan hulls, pounded||$ .10|
|1 Tomato||$ .50|
|2 Tbsp Avocado Oil||$ .50|
|1 tsp Ginger powder||$ .06|
|1 Tbsp Medium Cracked Whole Black Pepper||$ . 50|
|1 Chile de Arbol||$ .08|
|2 oz. Frozen Yellow Corn||$ .17|
|7 oz. Teriyaki Sauce||$ 1.22|
|1 tsp Tumeric||$. 05|
|1/2 Tbsp Dijon Mustard||$ .04|
|1/2 Tbsp Rendered Pork Fat||$ .01|
|1/2 Tbsp Dried Basil||$ .06|
|1 Tbsp Low Sodium Soy Sauce||$ .05|
|1 tsp Garam Masala||$ .05|
|1 Tbsp Sesame Oil||$ .05|
|1/2 Tbsp Rice Vinegar||$ .03|
|2 Tbsp Kosher Salt||$.02|
|Price Per Person||$2.13|
|Large Pot||Colander||Tongs||Small Bowl|
|Mortar and Pestle||Large Cooking Spoon||Soup Ladle||Butter Cup|
|Medium Iron Skillet||Flat Plate||Tea Strainer||Measuring Spoons|
|Large Iron Skillet||Shallow Wide Bowl||Vegetable Knife||8 oz. Measuring Cup|
|Rubber Band||Clean Towel||Serrated Knife||Peeler|
|Spatula ( optional )|
20 minutes: Cut the tofu into two flat mattresses, and fold them stacked in a towel. Wrap the towel and secure it with a rubber band. Place the wrapped tofu on a plate, and place the medium iron skillet on it upside down to squish the water out of it. Use the butter dish underneath the handle for an even press.
Fill Pot with water to boil. Add half of the Kosher Salt to water. Prepare all of the vegetables except the corn and tomato, Grind the Sichuan pepper, sieve it into the small bowl, and then add the dry ingredients to that small bowl.
Crack the black pepper and set the mortar and pestle aside.
Place the noodles in the boiling water. Turn often. Place large oiled skillet (it should ALWAYS be oiled) on range top and heat on high. Cook noodles al dente, maybe five minutes. Strain in colander, saving one cup of noodle water in 8 oz. measuring cup.
Run cold water over noodles, add half the sesame oil, the other half of the kosher salt, and toss gently with tongs in colander. Set aside atop the shallow wide bowl.
7 minutes: Place medium skillet away. Unwrap tofu mattresses and coat with avocado oil. Put half of medium cracked black pepper on them evenly, and place peppered side down into smoking pan. Reduce heat to medium high. Sprinkle remainder of black pepper on top of tofu. Flip when they release from the pan (about three minutes). Cook 4 more minutes on medium high heat. Remove and allow to cool on plate (Figure 2).
12 minutes: Build the saute (Figure 2). Add carrots, celery and chile de árbol to medium high heat in skillet. When they begin to show slight signs of char, add a bit of water to release them, add onions, incorporate. You have 10 minutes before you add the dry spices.
CLEAN the large pot, ladle, tea strainer, and peeler.
Add 2 oz. corn measured in butter cup. When onion show slight char (Figure 4) and are partially translucent, add corn, stir, and count to fifteen (Figure 5). A corn kernel should literally pop and jump in the pan about now! Add rendered pork fat (optional).
Add the dry mixture: Sichuan pepper, ginger, turmeric, and dry basil (Figure 6) to skillet, incorporate. You should be able to smell the pungent citrus of the Sichuan peppers (Figure 7).
Pour the noodle water in, add all of the asparagus except the tip (Figure 8).
Add the teriyaki sauce, the soy sauce, the rice vinegar, and the mustard. Incorporate quickly. Dice tomato. Cube the cooled tofu (Figure 9). Add both to skillet, incorporate.
, Cover large skillet with overturned medium skillet to create steam chamber (Figure 10). Image added the following day to show positioning and relative sizes of skillets.
Clean the butter cup, small bowl, measuring cup and spoons, knives, wipe out the mortar and pestle, dry and put away the large pot.
5 minutes: Uncover large skillet, set medium skillet aside. Add another 4 oz. of water for looser sauce (optional). Stir in asparagus tips and tomato. Allow to boil gently. Remove from heat, toss chile de arbol in trash.
CLEAN the cutting board, knives, measuring cup and spoons, flat plate, wipe out the medium skillet and put away. Send towel to laundry, rinse rubber band and put away.
1 minute: Place noodles in bowls, top with hot 3-pepper tofu saute divided into five portions, incorporate (Figure 11) and serve.
Please note, I allowed for a two-minute break to brew some tea or something.