Spicy black bean broccoli & eggplant with tempura tofu.

Today, I ventured out into the -50C/-58F frozen shitshow that is Winnipeg. I had to pick up some staples from the oriental market and figured a jean jacket would be the perfect parka alternative. Long story short, it was a wee bit brisk, so I decided making a spicy stir-fry would warm up the entrails.

I picked up another jar of black bean paste (douchi). My go-to brand is Asian Family, and a jar is about $2. A good black bean paste will contain very few ingredients, the primary ingredient being fermented black soy beans. There will also be some soy sauce. sugar and vinegar in some brands, but the fermented beans best be first on the ingredients listing. The flavour is sharp and pungent. Buying black bean sauce will yield a totally different taste, due to the massive amounts of sugar, vinegar and sodium added in there.
Lee Kum Kee is my favourite brand of chili oil. The chili flakes settle to the bottom, and the soybean and sesame oil creep up top, and it is orange. as. fuck. It has a fairly high smoking point which is stellar for pan frying. This jar set me back another $2 and ought to last me an awful long while.

For the Vegetables
3 Indian eggplant, cut into eighths 
1 small crown broccoli, florets will yield about 3/4 cup
1 small can water chestnuts
2 shallots, sliced lengthwise
Toasted cashews, chopped
1 tsp chili oil + 1/2 tsp of the settled chili
2 tsp black bean paste

In a wok, add in your oil and begin pan frying your vegetables on medium-high heat. Once your vegetables are about ready, add in your black bean paste. Throw in your cashews and set aside.

For the Tofu
2 cups club soda
1/2 cup flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
Spicy salt, optional
Extra firm tofu
Canola oil for frying

Cut your tofu into slabs (about 1cm thick), then into squares, finally into triangles. Mix up your tempura batter. It ought to have the consistency of a crepe batter or slightly thicker. The thinner the batter, the more it'll spread out in the pan. Oil up that pan, about 1cm of oil will do. Shallow fry your tofu until golden brown.

For the Udon Noodles
Stir fry the noodles in an oil of your choice. For two packages, I used 1/2 tsp chili oil + 1/2 tsp coconut oil. Once ready, the noodles will be good and crispy.

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