Vegetables Stir-Fry with Tomato Sauce 番茄酱清炒蔬菜豆腐

Excluding sesame oil, the only Asian cooking sauce stocked in my pantry is soy sauce. In Asia, most vegetables stir-fries call for oyster sauce but without that, I have to create some kind of "sauce" base when making vegetables stir-fries (e.g. Sweet and Sour Tofu Stir-Fry) and tomatoes come into the picture.

Tomatoes not only sweeten up the entire dish naturally, the combination of tomatoes and soy sauce just means more flavor (more umami) for the dish.

The trick to a quick Asian stir-fry of a combo of vegetables is to cook each or some of the vegetables" separately' then combine them in a quick stir-fry towards the end of cooking. If you were to add the vegetables - in the sequence of which vegetables cooks slower (added first), to those that cooks fastest (added last), the heat of the pan is often brought down when you add in something raw, thus slowing down the cooking process.

In this stir-fry, the tofu was pan-fried, set aside. Bok Choy stems were also pan-seared to soften, then set aside. Thereafter, the actual all-in-one stir-fry begins.

Vegetables & Tofu Stir-Fry with Fresh Tomato Sauce 番茄酱清炒蔬菜豆腐
14 oz firm tofu, cut to bite-size chunks or cubes then pan-fry till both sides are browned and crisp, or bake the tofu instead of pan-fry
5-6 Bok Choy, separate the leafy part from the stems. Set aside the leaves. Slice the stems to half, then pan-sear the half (flat side down) till softened, set aside the stems separately
2-3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 tomato, finely diced
1 tsp soy sauce + 1cup of water
3-4 fresh shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced
5-6 mini sweet peppers (or bell peppers), thinly sliced

Salt and white pepper
Few drops of sesame oil to finish off the dish

Directions: In a pan or pot, add 1tbsp cooking oil and fry the garlic till fragrant. Add the tomatoes and fry till tomatoes are softened and juices are released. Add soy sauce + water and cook down the tomatoes to create a sauce-mixture. Add in fresh mushrooms and fry for 2-3mins, then add sweet bell peppers and fry for about 1min. Add in tofu, mix well and allow all the flavors to combine by simmering in the pat/pot for about 2min. Add in Bok Choy leaves and stems, a quick toss, then salt and pepper to taste. Add a few drops of sesame oil over the vegetables after cooking and garnish with green onions and toasted sesame seeds.

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