Tofu, Potatoes & Eggplant in garlic adobo sauce
Fresh garlic and the sharp tang of vinegar are the hallmarks of Filipino fare; a cuisine that sometimes feels overwhelmingly off limits to vegans but offers to much in regards to comforting richness of it’s sharp, stimulating flavors that’s makes a rich and comforting dinner on a chilly evening. It might look like there’s a lot of soy sauce and vinegar in this dish, but it reduces to a tangy, bracing sauce the the eggplant and tofu just drink up.
Note: This is a rather intense dish, very tangy and smokey-hot from the peppercorns. If you’d rather try a milder take on this please see the variation listed after…
1/2 pound small waxy potatoes, red or yellow skin
8-10 ounces prepared tofu, drained
1 pound Asian eggplant, ends trimmed
4 tablespoons peanut oil or vegetable oil
3 heaping tablespoons of roughly chopped garlic
2 teaspoons whole mixed peppercorns OR 1 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
2/3 cup mild soy sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar or Filipino coconut sap or palm sap vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
2 bay leaves
2 scallions, white part removed and green ends thinly sliced
1. Scrub clean the potatoes and remove any blemishes. Dice into rough chunks about 1 1/2 inches wide, place in a small pot and cover with 2 inches of cold water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, until potatoes are starting to turn tender and can be easily pierced with a fork. Drain and set aside.
2. Dice tofu into 1 inch cubes. Slice eggplants on a sharp diagonal into 1/2 thin slices. With the flat edge of a kitchen knife, smash garlic into rough pieces.
3. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large heavy stainless steel pot or enameled Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the sliced eggplant, fry for 4-5 minutes to brown both sides of each slice and move eggplant to a large plate. Pour in another 1 tablespoon of oil and brown tofu cubes, gently flipping occasionally until edges are golden. Remove from pot and add remaining tablespoon of oil. Add garlic and peppercorns and stir fry for 30 seconds, then return eggplant, tofu, and potatoes to the pot. Pour soy sauce and vinegar over vegetables, sprinkle with brown sugar and tuck bay leaves into the sauce. Bring to a bubbling simmer, gently stir the vegetables and tofu with a wooden spoon a few times and reduce heat to low.
4. Cover and simmer for 25-30 minutes, occasionally stirring once or twice. The sauce will have reduced and the eggplant should be very tender and falling apart. Remove from heat, partially cover and let stand for 15 minutes. To serve, ladle vegetables and sauce into a large bowl, sprinkle with chopped cilantro and scallions and top with diced tomato and banana and serve with a side of steamed brown or white rice.
If you’re thinking seitan would be great here, replace the tofu with 8 ounces of purchased seitan or half a recipe of Five Spice Seitan. Slice into 1 inch strips and brown the same as the tofu, proceed as directed.
Mellow adobo: Substitute either rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar for the white distilled vinegar, and reduce it to 1/3-1/4 cup. In place of the peppercorns use 1 teaspoon of fresh, coarsely ground black pepper.