Mapo Tofu

1 1/2 Cups Seitan Dumpling Filling

1 Tablespoon Toasted Sesame Oil

1 Tablespoon Finely Minced Garlic

1 Tablespoon Finely Minced Fresh Ginger

1/2 Teaspoon Ground Black Pepper

3 Skinny Scallions, Thinly Sliced on the Diagonal, Divided

1 - 3 Tablespoons Sambal Oelek

1/2 Cup Low-Sodium Vegetable Broth or Water

1 Tablespoon Cornstarch

3 Tablespoons Fermented Black Bean Paste

2 - 3 Tablespoons Low-Sodium Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon Brown Rice Syrup or Light Brown Sugar

1 Pound Soft (But not Silken) Tofu, Drained

Prepare the ground seitan according to the dumpling recipe and set aside.

Heat the sesame oil in a medium stock pot or large saucepan over medium heat. Toss in the garlic and ginger once the oil is shimmering and quickly saute, just until fragrant and lightly browned. Add the prepared seitan mixture into the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

Meanwhile, whisk together the black pepper, two of the sliced scallions, the first tablespoon of sambal oelek, broth, and cornstarch. Beat out any lumps of starch so that the liquid is perfectly smooth before using it to deglaze the hot pan. Scrape the bottom of the pan with your spatula to make sure nothing sticks or burns, and turn down the heat to medium-low.

Stir in the black bean past, first two tablespoons of soy sauce, and brown rice syrup. Let it cook and mingle for a minute or two before giving it a taste; add more sambal or soy sauce as desired, but as you adjust seasonings, don't even think of reaching for the salt shaker. These are all very salty ingredients, and you'll end up with something inedible if you don't manage the sodium level very carefully.

Once you're pleased with the flavors developing, cut your tofu into 1/2-inch cubes and gently lower them into the stew. Soft tofu is rather fragile, so don't go haphazardly stirring the whole mixture and smashing them to bits. Rather, use your spatula to fold everything together.

Continue to cook until the liquid has thickened and reaches a rapid bubble. Let cool for a few minutes before topping with the remaining sliced scallions, and serve with white rice (or any other cooked grain) if desired.

Makes 3 - 4 Servings

©Hannah Kaminsky http://www.BitterSweetBlog.com