Is there such a thing as six degrees of separation for food? If so, then my tale of meandering food inspiration is a good example of it. It starts with the Daring Bakers' challenge described in my previous post. The recipe chosen was for apple strudel, but the real challenge was making the strudel dough, with the filling left up to each individual Baker.
Lisa Michele, of Parsley, Sage, Desserts and Line Drives, made a truly mouthwatering-looking char siu (Chinese roast pork) strudel, with her very own roast pork. She provided her recipe for the roast pork and, as I've wanted to try making a vegetarian Chinese roast "pork" ever since a disastrous trial many years ago, I started yesterday by making her marinade (recipe in the linked post).
I had an unfortunate missing ingredient -- five spice powder -- but otherwise followed the recipe exactly, doubling it because tofu needs more added flavor than pork does. I sliced a high-protein, super-firm tofu and marinated it for almost 24 hours, turning it once to recoat. I baked it for about 45 minutes, turning once and basting with extra marinade.
It turned out quite beautifully, as you can see. I would tweak the next batch. This was a little sweeter than I'd like, so I'll cut back on the brown sugar next time. And make sure I secure some five-spice powder, too.
The cut tofu looks pretty darn good and we ate half of it tonight in a "pork" fried rice with lots of onion, garlic, and green onions. The side dish stole the show a little bit, though. I used Lisa's pork sauce as inspiration and combined about 1 TBSP of dry sherry, 1 TBSP of soy sauce, about a half TBSP of vinegar, and 1 TBSP of corn starch in a bowl. I sauteed some minced onion and lots of garlic and then poured in the starch flurry. I added about a third a cup of water, some salt, and a small amount sweet red chile sauce, and cooked until thickened before adding some par-steamed broccoli. Oh, it was GOOD.
Husband ate his. Looked longingly at mine. And stole Little Girl's about 10 seconds after she uttered the magic "May I please get down?" that ends her meal.
So, thank you, Daring Bakers for the original challenge! And thank you, Lisa, for your inspired char siu version!