Fry tofu in onion oil. Then add 10-20 crushed xiangfeizi, along with bean paste and spices, and simmer. Another way is to simmer it just with wine.—山家清供
I’m going to go into some detail with this obscenely delicious dish.
Let’s start with the name. Dongpo refers to Su Dongpo, the poet and gastronome who gave his name to Dongpo pork (Dongpo rou). There is also Dongpo fish, chicken, ham, and of course this dish of Dongpo tofu.
But Dongpo isn’t a style — these are all completely different recipes.
Second, xiangfeizi. These are little tree nuts of Torreya grandis. As far as I can tell they don’t have an English name, which is too bad, because they are tasty. A bit like very crispy almonds.
Finally ‘酱料’ just means ‘bean paste and spices’. Since we are in the Song dynasty, it probably doesn’t mean soy sauce. I’ll just use a very ordinary yellow bean paste.
And now the actual dish.
I made my onion oil using garlic stems, cos that’s what I felt like doing. I did this by cutting off the whites and frying the greens until they were dried out. I used the flavored oil to deep fry cubes of tofu, which I first coated in rice flour. (To clarify, the recipe doesn’t mention coating, and also specifies pan frying. Just being me, folks.)
Finally, I briefly fried ginger and the crushed xiangfeizi (which smelled really good when it hit the oil), returned the fried tofu with the crisped garlic stems to the pan, added about one half cup each water and cooking wine, plus a spoon of yellow bean paste and a dash of white pepper.
Cover and simmer at very low heat for 10 minutes. Be careful not to let it scorch, since the rice flour coating will come off and thicken the liquid. You could also steam or bake the dish, so there’s less chance of burning.
Again, just amazing. The intensely-flavored oil gets absorbed into the rice flour coating (more than the tofu), which then flavors the sauce. The xiangfeizi add a nice richness and a very pleasant crunch. You could substitute finely crushed almonds or peanuts–just a small handful of either one. If you are not a Song dynasty stickler, feel free to use soy sauce in place of bean paste.
This dish is easily a match for the best mapo tofu. It’s definitely going into the regular rotation.