First Bates Haus Dinner w/ Pajun, Eggplant Basil Tofu, and lots of wine

By the end of Saturday night, everyone could speak for a full bottle of wine, plus a plastic bottle of unfiltered rice wine and a few delicious beers, the most wonderful of which was the Dogfish 120 minute IPA that made me feel like I was smack in the middle of a field of hops with my head thrown back, drinking in golden sunshine.

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But it wasn’t just a night for booze.

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There were friends. Lots of lovely friends.

We started at 6:30 and talked about food and wine and cutting up cows. We moved into music and farming and what makes ambition. Then into love and bike rides to Mt. Vernon. We contemplated climbing mountains. And around midnight, when most of the crew had left for the bars and their beds, the last comrades standing threw their hands in the air for an impromptu happy dance that lasted at least 5 songs.

bates-dinner-pajunThe recipe for pajun is from the New York Times — I doubled it with no incident. For the flour, went with 1/2 tapioca and 1/2 all-purpose for a slightly chewier, bouncier pancake.

For veg, I used green beans and scallions, minced finely into little green polka dots. I made the pancakes in a small pan so they’d be easier to flip and they’d work as appetizers. I served them with okonomiyaki sauce: spicy, tangy, perfect with eggs.

The curry was standard panang from a can — in this case, the Mae Ploy brand, doctored with sugar, fish sauce, kaffir lime leaves, lime juice, chilis and basil.

The eggplant basil tofu was a variation on a staple basil _(insert protein here)_ dish that I often make when I can get my hands on quantities of delicious basil and feel like something quick. The basic recipe follows below — the amounts are pretty flexible and up to your particular tastebuds.

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Playing hostess…

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Marcie and new roomie Chris with rice and rice-cakes from H-mart.

Eggplant Basil Tofu

5 Tbs. oil for frying tofu
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
3-4 shallots or half a medium onion, thinly sliced
1 lb firm tofu cut into thin blocks 1×1.5×1/4 inch
2 purple Asian eggplants (the long skinny ones)
2 tbsp water (or chicken broth)
1 1/2 Tbs. soy sauce
1 Tbs. fish sauce, or to taste (can substitute soy sauce or vegetarian fish sauce if you want to make it veggie-tarian)
2 Tsp sugar, or to taste
1 cup fresh Thai holy basil with whole leaves and flower buds, remove hard stems and coarse chop if desired

Optional:
4-5 Thai chilis, sliced into thin rounds (soak and remove seeds to reduce spiciness)
Other veggies — green beans, peppers, etc.

Coat the wok surface with oil. Heat the wok on medium-high until the oil is super hot, then add the tofu and fry on one side until golden brown (about 3 minutes). Flip and repeat until your tofu is crispy.

In the meantime, prepare your “sauce” in a medium-sized bowl. Mix together sugar, sauces and chilis.

Remove tofu from wok and put immediately into sauce mix to marinate.

Remove some oil from the pan until there’s about 1-2 tablespoons left. Heat on medium. Add onion and fry 1 minute, then add garlic and fry another 2 minutes until fragrant. Add in eggplant and other veggies and stir well. Add 2 tbsp of water or broth and cover.

Let cook another 2-3 minutes (don’t overdo the eggplant!), then pour in tofu, plus sauce and stir-fry for another 15 to 20 seconds. When back up to temperature (sauce is sizzling in the bottom of the wok), stir in the fresh basil. Toss well until the basil is wilted then remove from heat. Serve with white rice.

2 comments

1 Derek Colby { 02.03.10 at 2:22 pm }

Dogfish 120 is a HELL of a beer. Intensely hoppy without being unpalatably bitter. I love it.

2 Scot Daniel { 02.03.10 at 9:06 am }

Nice! We miss you here (but not the eggplant).

Love,

Dad

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