I haven’t eaten at a Chinese restaurant in three years. So what? So, there’s a huge hole in my life that I absolutely must fill. Today, I take the first step. (Gawd, this sounds like therapy. Unappetizing.) Ok, start over.

I’ve been thinking forevah-evah about taking some Chinese cooking classes from an old Chinese dude (please, if you know this dude, call me) so I can make veggie stirfry that doesn’t taste like veggie stirfry (you so know what I’m talking about, vegheads). I have it in my head that with a simple substitution (wheat-free tamari for soy sauce) I can make every Chinese dish I miss with the added bonus of avoiding the MSG (which, I read somewhere can be a wheat derivative and therefore not gf – hm!)

Well, I haven’t found said Chinese dude yet, but I did manage a tofu with black bean sauce dish tonight that was migh-ty-tasty. Reminded me of, well, tofu with black bean sauce! Oh, Chinese food, how I’ve missed you!

Tofu with Black Bean Sauce in all its Gluten-Free Glory

Tofu with Black Bean Sauce in all its Gluten-Free Glory

Tofu with Black Bean Sauce

For the fry:

  • 1 tub firm tofu
  • 4 scallions, sliced all perty, on the diagonal
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 t. grated fresh ginger (use the freezer trick*)
  • 1/2 onion, sliced
  • 4 T fermented black beans**
  • 12 whole dried chili peppers
  • 1 bunch swiss chard, chopped

For the sauzah:

  • 1 cup veggie broth, heated
  • 2 t. sesame oil
  • 2 T rice cooking wine
  • 2 t. cornstarch

A note before you start: If you have a wok, hallelujah. Use that. If you’re lame like me and don’t have a kitchen big enough for a wok, do like I do and use a big old fry pan. Just make sure the sides are high enough that you won’t lose stuff over the edge.

Ok, to begin:In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce and stir with a fork to get all the lumps of cornstarch out. Set aside. Drain and cube your tofu. Put a couple tablespoons of oil in a nonstick fry pan and brown the tofu on high heat. Remove from pan and set aside. Add another tablespoon of fresh oil to the pan and saute your garlic and chili peppers for a minute on high. Add the scallions and onions, saute until the onions begin to turn clear. Chop the black beans a bit and add to the mix. Pour the sauce you set aside earlier into the pan with the onions, chilis, etc. Stir the fry. Add the tofu and simmer until thickened. Remove from pan and set aside. Fill the fry pan with 1/4″ of water. Place the chopped swiss chard in the pan and cover. Simmer for 3ish minutes until leaves are limp and soft, but still bright green (before they turn mush-tastic). Drain and put on a serving plate. Pour the tofu and black bean sauce on top. Serve with rice of your choice. Serves 2-3.

*You know the freezer trick, right? Buy a big ol’ lump of ginger at the gross-hairy store. Wash, and if you’re finicky, peel it. Stick it in a plastic bag in the freezer. When you need fresh ginger, just pull it out and grate it with a microplane grater. Ta-daa. Fresh ginger at your beck and call, any night of the week.

One of the GF brands of jarred fermented black bean

One of the GF brands of jarred fermented black bean

**Notes about the wacky ingredients: Fermented black beans are key to this dish. No black beans = no black bean sauce. They can be found in Asian grocery stores if you’re willing to dig a little. This dude has a great photo on his blog of several different brands you might see around. For this recipe, I used the bagged beans on the right. I thought they were tasty. But BEWARE, GF friends, the Lee-Kum-Lee jarred black bean garlic sauce on the far left definitely has gluten in it. You can almost categorically ignore this brand because they always use soy sauce. But I have found other jarred black beans that are gluten free. For example, Master has a jarred Black Bean and a Black Bean Garlic, both of which are gluten free as far as I can tell: