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Chinese Food for New Year’s

Posted Dec 30 2009 5:44pm

Happy New Year’s Eve! (Assuming you’re reading this on Thursday and not when I actually hit publish, that is.) Do you have any extra special fun plans? Or lack thereof, if that’s how you roll?

As for me, I fall into the latter category. I’m not in to the Times Square thing, or even the party thing, really. And with the boyf out of town, I’m more than happy to spend a quiet night in, to be honest.

If you’re like me, your New Year’s traditions probably tend towards something like ordering in Chinese food and watching TV. In honor of said “tradition,” I adapted one of my favorite Chinese tofu dishes to be a little healthier (and vegan-er). When I was living in China, I loved ma la dofu, a very spicy tofu dish speckled with minced pork. This version has all the flavor (and a Japanese spin!) without the gratuitous oil and meat.


Mabo Dofu (adapted from this recipe)


  • 1 tbsp miso paste
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp red pepper flakes (or to taste, depending on heat tolerance)
  • 1 tbsp nama shoyu (or soy sauce)
  • 1 tsp agave (or other sweetener/sugar)
  • 1/4 cup hot water
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1/4 cup diced onions
  • 1 package silken tofu, mostly drained (use a larger package, 12oz/1lb-ish?—I actually used the remains of a package with 1/2 cup already gone, but it was still enough)



  1. Make the sauce first. Whisk miso through agave with the hot water until smooth.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet or wok. Add onions and cook until translucent, several minutes at medium-high heat.
  3. Pour in the sauce and stir a little until warmed through.
  4. Fold in tofu. No need to cut/slice it first—silken tofu will fall apart naturally. Continue to fold/stir until you have bite-size pieces, but not so small that the tofu has disintegrated.
  5. Simmer until sauce has thickened a little and the tofu is well coated, another 5 minutes or so.
  6. Spoon over brown rice and serve with Japanese pickles for garnish, if desired.

Serves 2


Heck, this meal’s so quick, you could have this for dinner AND still go out for New Year’s Eve! Especially if you have some leftover cooked brown rice ready to go.


Here’s hoping you get to do whatever it is you most want do for New Year’s Eve, whether that means TV and tofu or someone throwing up on you while freezing and packed into a corral at Times Square.

Yeah, I’m definitely staying in.

Happy 2010!

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