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Five-Spice Tilapia

18 Jul


Maybe it’s becoming obvious by the number of Asian recipes I post on here, or maybe it needs to be stated, I love Asian-inspired foods. My fridge is stocked full of various Asian condiments from fish sauce to soy sauce to sesame oil to Sriracha to black bean paste and miscellaneous others I can’t think of off the top of my head. I try to keep these things on-hand at all times because they get used regularly!

One flavor that I find particularly distinctive is Chinese five-spice powder which is a combination of cinnamon, cloves, fennel seed, star anise and Szechuan peppercorns. As much as I enjoy its flavor, I do find that it can be sometimes a little overwhelming when added to recipes. But, of course, that is the point in this recipe, isn’t it? To temper the five-spice powder ever so slightly, a soy sauce and brown sugar mixture is added to the pan to make a delicious and slightly sweet glaze for the fish. Overall, this dish is fast and tasty. Definitely a repeat-worthy dish.

Now, I have a bit of a philosophical question for you. (Not really that serious.) Basically, I am just taking a poll to gauge people’s opinions. Does seafood (fish, shellfish, whatever) constitute “meatless”? You’ll notice that even though today is Monday, I did not tag this post as Meatless Monday because I am not sure how I feel on the subject. I have seen arguments for both sides, and I can agree with both points. I guess it all boils down to personal preference, but I am just curious as to what others who participate in Meatless Mondays designate as a “meatless meal”.

Five-Spice Tilapia

4 4-ounce tilapia fillets
1 teaspoon five-spice powder
1/4 cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1 tablespoon canola oil
3 scallions, thinly sliced

Sprinkle both sides of tilapia fillets with five-spice powder. Combine soy sauce and brown sugar in a small bowl.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the tilapia and cook until the outer edges are opaque, about 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium, turn the fish over, stir the soy mixture and pour into the pan. Bring the sauce to a boil and cook until the fish is cooked through and the sauce has thickened slightly, about 2 minutes more. Add scallions and remove from the heat. Serve the fish drizzled with the pan sauce.

Serves 4.
Source: Eating Well

CEiMB: Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage with Tofu

14 Jul


As many of you know, my life has taken a huge turn over the last three months, and as I’ve waded through rather murky waters and climbed some rather steep hills, it’s my friends that have gotten me through. And included in that group is each member of the fantastic blogging group Craving Ellie in My Belly. Each week they cheer me on, and the sense of camaraderie in our intimate circle of chefs is something that means the world to me. Cooking and being in the kitchen has been like therapy to me, and to be able to share that with my CEiMBistas and all my readers has been a fantastic joy. Thank you all!

Now, before I get any mushier, let’s get to the recipe. This week was my turn to host, and I always feel such excitement to look through my books for a new recipe to try out. Unfortunately, with all my cookbooks in storage, I had to turn to an older Ellie Krieger book for inspiration this month. In “Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life,” Ellie describes this stir fry dish as a calcium heavy hitter. She explains that it’s a great source of calcium even without the presence of dairy, and we all know how important it is to get enough calcium, especially for women.

I’ve mentioned before how supportive my parents have been both in life in general but also when it comes to my cooking. So far they have tried everything I’ve served with a good bit of enthusiasm. I was afraid the tofu might scare them off, but they were even open-minded about this meat-free dinner. Unfortunately, it just wasn’t a hit. My mom said, “It just doesn’t have the same depth of flavor as the other dishes you normally make,” and my dad said, “Hmm. I don’t really like it, but I’ll eat it.” Ha! Overall, I just felt like it turned out a little bland. I had been most afraid about the tofu, but it ended up being the sauce, or lack thereof, that turned us all off from this dish. We did all agree, however, that with a little Sriracha hot sauce, it was MUCH better. I think I liked it the best of the three of us, but it’s still not something I would make again as written. I have conquered my fear of tofu though because that is one part of this dish I would definitely eat again.

Hopefully those of you who cooked along with me this week enjoyed this dish a bit more than my family did, and I hope the tofu didn’t scare anybody off too much :) I can’t wait to see what all the other CEiMBers made, and if you want to follow along, be sure to check out the blogroll or consider joining in the fun!

Stir-Fried Chinese Cabbage with Tofu
3 small bunches bok choy (about 1 pound)
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon peeled and grated ginger
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/3 cup chopped scallion
1 pound cooked, marinated tofu cubes (recipe to follow or buy store-bought)
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon sesame seeds (which I completely forgot… oops!)

Cut 1 inch off the bottom of bok choy and wash the separated stalks. Chop the bok choy crosswise into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Heat the oil in a wok or large deep skillet over a medium flame. Add the ginger and garlic and cook for 15 seconds, stirring constantly. Add the scallion and bok choy. Raise the heat to high and cook, stirring occasionally, for five minutes.

Stir in the tofu, soy sauce, 1/4 cup water and cook, stirring occasionally, until the liquid is reduced slightly and the tofu is warmed, about 2 minutes. Sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Marinated Tofu
1 pound extra-firm tofu
2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
1 tablespoon orange juice
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 teaspoon canola oil
cooking spray

Slice the tofu into 1/2-inch-thick slabs and lay the slices on top of paper towels. Use more paper towels to firmly pat the tofu in order to remove as much of the water as possible. This should take about 3 paper towels and 2 minutes. Cut the tofu into cubes.

In a medium bowl, combine soy sauce, orange juice, sesame oil, and canola oil. Add the tofu cubes and toss gently. Cover and let the tofu marinate in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 24 hours.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Spray a large shallow baking dish with cooking spray. Place the tofu in a single layer in the baking dish. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serves 4.
Source: Ellie Krieger’s “Small Changes, Big Results: A 12-Week Action Plan to a Better Life,” p. 186 and 221

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