Thursday, May 21, 2015

Tofu Hand-Tossed in Ta-Dang Chili Paste

Tofu Hand-Tossed in Ta-Dang Chili Paste
The inspiration for this dish came from my best friend I meet for lunch on a regular basis. We meet in the food-court of a mall, but for the last couple of years we haven't needed to buy lunch because she brings all kinds of interesting eats with her. This is one that reminds me of potato chips or popcorn. You can never take just one bite! Every time we have this, I try to extract the recipe from her, but she just isn't into writing down her recipes and neither is she precise with her measuresments of ingredients. So I've concocted my own recipe and while she makes hers on the stovetop, I cooked this in the microwave.

Thai Maesri Ta-Dang Chili Paste
BFF is a vegetarian and uses Sambal Oelek (chili-garlic paste) among other ingredients, but I have this bottle sitting in my fridge that I use in cooking Burmese food. 
The Ingredients
Ta-Dang chili paste has an interesting list of ingredients that goes something like this: dried red chilies 25%, shallots 20%, garlic 14%, tamarind juice 14%, sugar 1%, salt 7%, dried shrimp 5%, anchovy fish sauce 4%, MSG 1 % - no artificial color or preservatives. This worked perfectly, along with deep-fried onions and garlic, which have been mixed together in a microwave-safe dish.

Mix Tofu with Chili Paste Gently by Hand
To preserve the integrity of the tofu, everything was mixed together gently by hand. That's one reason I decided to do this in the microwave because tofu is so delicate and it was one way to leave the cubes whole and unbroken.

After Microwaving for 1 Minute
The tofu was cooked on high power in the microwave for one minute and then taken out and stirred with a fork.

Microwave for 2 Minutes More
After microwaving for 2 minutes more, it was ready to eat! This will taste great with steamed rice, but tastes just as great eaten on its own.

1 block of extra-firm tofu, cubed
2 tsp. Ta-Dang chili paste
2 Tbsp. deep-fried onions
2 Tbsp. deep-fried garlic
2 Tbsp. vegetable oil

  1. Mix all ingredients gently by hand in a microwavable dish.
  2. Microwave on high power for one minute, remove from oven & stir with a fork.
  3. Return to microwave oven for 2 more minutes and it's done!
Serve on its own as an appetizer or with steamed rice.

Burmese Kya Zan Chet - Bean-Thread Vermicelli Soup

Kya Zan Chet
This is a hearty soup made from chicken broth and bean thread vermicelli with tofu and eggs for protein and a variety of pickled vegetables that add a tart and tangy flavor to the soup.

Bean thread noodles are a staple at Asian markets. It comes in bundles of dry, almost plastic like threads, eight bundles to a package. When they are submerged and softened in boiling water, the threads plump up and turn transparent, which is why these noodles are often referred to as glass or cellophane noodles. Used extensively in South East Asia, these noodles are gluten-free and made from mung bean starch. They are used in soups, stir-fries, salads and spring rolls. In Burma, the name is kya zan. Chet simply means 'cooked'.

Chinese Preserved Vegetables
The other prominent ingredient in my soup was one-quarter of a package of salty, sour and spicy Chinese vegetables. preserved in red chili paste and oil. One package goes a long way so after opening the package, I generally divide the contents into four tightly covered containers and refrigerate them. From what I could make out, the vegetables include cabbage, turnip, stems of mustard greens,  and wood-ear mushrooms.

Tofu & Garnishes
A slab of cubed tofu was added for protein and deep-fried onions and garlic garnished each bowl of soup.

Ingredients: (serves 2)
6 cups chicken broth
1 bundle mung bean thread vermicelli
1/2 block extra-firm tofu, cubed
1/4 pkg. Chinese preserved vegetables
2 Tbsp. fish sauce
1 tsp. chicken powder
salt & pepper to taste
2 eggs, beaten with salt
deep-fried onions
deep-fried garlic

  1. Rinse preserved vegetables to get rid of excess salt, drain, chop & set aside.
  2. Bring chicken broth to a boil and add vermicelli.
  3. Transfer vermicelli to a plate after it softens and cut into smaller lengths.
  4. Return vermicelli to soup pot and add the next 4 ingredients.
  5. Simmer over medium-high heat for 10 minutes until vegetables soften.
  6. Adjust salt and pepper to taste and remove soup from heat.
  7. Beat eggs with salt and pour in a thin stream while stirring the soup in one direction.
  8. Pour into soup bowls and garnish with deep-fried onions & garlic.
Serve immediately.