I was looking for something light to make earlier this week, to try and offset the amount of food I planned on eating for the holidays. I also needed to try a new Tyler Florence recipe for Tyler Florence Fridays, so when I found Pan-Fried Tofu with Spinach, Pear, and Star Anise in Tyler Florence's Real Kitchen: An Indispensable Guide for Anybody Who Likes to Cook it sounded perfect.
Now, I must preface my comments, with the fact that I don't care that much for tofu. If you wondering then why for heaven's sakes did I make a dish with tofu as the star ingredient? Well, I want to like tofu. I really do. With all the flavors in this dish, I thought that if there was ever a dish that could make me like tofu, this would be it. Did it? No, not really, but the flavors of everything else in the dish were amazing. So, as I was eating it, I kept thinking of how I could make it without the dreaded tofu, and I think boneless, skinless chicken breasts would make a fine substitute.
Pan-Fried Tofu with Spinach, Pear, and Star Anise
1 block extra-firm tofu, 15 ounces, halved horizontally
2 tablespoons peanut oil
1 tablespoon sesame oil
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger, peeled
1 garlic clove, minced
1 fresh red chile, cut in paper-thin circles
3 whole star anise
1/3 cup roasted peanuts
2 tablespoons hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
Juice of 1/2 lime
2 pounds baby spinach
1 pear or Asian pear, sliced into thin wedges
Lay several layers of paper towels on a cutting board, then place the tofu squares on top, side by side. Cover the tofu with more paper towels and place a plate on top. Add a can or two to press down and drain out some of the water in the curd. This makes the tofu denser and meatier.
In a large skillet, heat the peanut and sesame oils just to the smoking point. Fry the tofu on both sides, flipping occasionally with the spatula, until golden, about 8 minutes total. Remove the tofu from the pan and drain it on a plate lined with paper towels.
Using the same pan, saute the ginger, garlic, chile, star anise, and peanuts-your kitchen will smell amazing!
In a small bowl, mix the hoisin sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice together; set aside.
Briefly toss the spinach in the pan, stirring just to wilt, no more than 30 seconds. Remove the spinach to a bowl, scraping the peanut mixture in there also.
Put the pan back on the heat and heat the hoisin mixture.
Combine the sauce with the spinach and divide between 2 bowls. Lay the pear slices and tofu on top.