Szechwan Tofu Triangles in Triple Pepper Sauce

Adapted from The Enchanted Broccoli Forest
Preparation time: 45 minutes
Yield: 4 to 6 servings

Note: Put up some rice to cook before you begin, so everything will be ready at the same time.

ANOTHER NOTE: I like to blanch the tofu triangles in simmering water for about 10 minutes ahead of time to really firm them up. Then I drain them thoroughly and proceed with the recipe. This step is optional, and can be done up to several days ahead of time. If you’re not going to use the pre-cooked tofu within a few hours of boiling it, store it in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator.

1 1/2 pounds very firm tofu
About 6 tablespoons canola oil
1/2 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup soy sauce
1 3/4 cups water
1/4 cup plus 1 teaspoon cider vinegar
3 tablespoons honey or sugar
8 large cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon dry mustard
4 tablespoons cornstarch
3 cups chopped onion (1-inch chunks)
1 medium-sized yellow bell pepper, in strips
1 medium-sized red bell pepper, in strips
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
Black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes to taste 6 scallions, minced (include greens as well as whites)
  1. Cut the tofu into triangles about 1/2 inch thick and about 2 1/2 inches on the long side.
  2. Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a wok or skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot enough to bounce a bread crumb, add the tofu pieces and fry them on each side for a few minutes– until lightly crisp. Remove the tofu and drain on paper towels. (You may have to fry the tofu in batches.)
  3. In a medium-sized saucepan, combine the sherry, soy sauce, water, vinegar, honey or sugar, garlic, and dry mustard. Place the saucepan over medium heat and heat until just before the boiling point, then remove from heat Place the cornstarch in a small bowl and pour in a little of the hot liquid, whisking until it dissolves. Return this mixture to the saucepan, whisking as you pour. Set aside, leaving the whisk in there (you’ll need it again).
  4. Heat the wok or skillet again. Add the remaining tablespoon or two of oil and the onion, and cook the onion over high heat for about 2 minutes. Add the bell peppers, salt, and black and red pepper to taste, and cook for only 1 to 2 minutes longer. Gently stir in the tofu triangles.
  5. Whisk the sauce (from step 3) to recombine, and quickly pour it into the wok. Stir and cook over medium-high heat for about 5 to 8 minutes, or until the sauce is thick and everything is coated. Toss in the scallions at the very end, and serve hot, over rice.