I am typically not a huge fan of either bean sprouts or tofu. However, this particular arrangement of the two has become a new favorite in our house. Some days, I don’t get to the market early enough to get the best meat, and some days, I just don’t feel like cooking meat; these sorts of days often come on the heels of meat purchases that proved to be tough and unpalatable. (My last attempt at beef curry involved what must have been a very old water buffalo. The thought of reheating the leftovers was unbearable.) Hence, here you find me happily chopping up tofu, which has never shared a meat seller’s chopping block with a snoozing street dog, and is neither toughened by age or needful of de-boning. Three cheers for tofu!
In Myanmar, lightly fried beansprouts are a common side dish with curries, and this particular recipe—which also happens to be the best version I have tasted–was imparted to me by my language teacher, MaSenda. I highly recommend it for a quick and easy side dish. It is simple, full of flavor and protein, and it is also pretty inexpensive. Not sure what the cost of ingredients is in the U.S. right now, but on our end of the world, making this dish costs us less than $0.75.
Lightly Fried Beansprouts and Tofu
Serves 4 as a side dish
1.5 to 2 cups tofu, chopped into bite-sized pieces
6 oz (or about 4 to 5 cups worth) bean sprouts
5 or 6 cloves of garlic, minced or sliced thin
2 shallots, thinly chopped
3 tsp salt
oil, for frying
1/2 cup water
chicken seasoning/broth/boullion, 1 tsp or to taste (optional)
soy sauce, if desired
Heat oil in a wok or in a deep and wide frying pan. Add the tofu and fry on medium heat, stirring frequently to keep the tofu from burning or sticking. Once the tofu is warmed and starting to look lightly browned, add the salt, shallots and garlic. Continue to fry until the shallots are aromatic and have begun to soften.
Once the shallots are softened, add the beansprouts and chicken seasoning to the mixture. Continue to stir, adding the water as needed to steam and soften the beansprouts. The beansprouts will cook down quickly, within about 2 minutes. I think they taste best when they have a tiny little bit of crunch still remaining (you might say al dente, if it is permissible to borrow noodle terminology for a vegetable), but the choice is up to you. Taste and see if you need to adjust the flavor with some more salt or chicken broth/seasoning, and when you are satisfied with the flavor and texture, remove from heat. This dish tastes best served warm, with soy sauce on the side.