1/4 c. shallots, peeled & finely minced
1/2 c. dried Thai (Bird's Eye) red chili peppers, stemmed & seeded
1 c. fennel (bulb only), diced
2 c. Chinese cabbage , julienned
2 c. green cabbage (common variety)
1 c. baby carrots, shredded
1 c. red bell pepper (about 3/4 large pepper)
1 c. shiitake mushrooms, soaked, then washed, ends cut-off, & sliced 1/4" thick (about 7-8 large mushrooms)
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds1/4 tsp. ground Chinese star anise (or if unavailable, use ground aniseed) 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon1/8 tsp. ground clove1/8 tsp. ground white pepper1 c. silken tofu, diced into 3/4" cubes
2 Tbsp. fresh cilantro, roughly chopped & densely packed
1/4 c. whole scallions (including greens), sliced crosswise into 1/4" thick rounds (about 4 large scallions)
1/3 c. unsalted peanuts, toasted & then crushed
Directions: To make ginger-garlic paste, add garlic, ginger, & salt to a small mortar & pestle & then pound, pulverizing the ingredients to smithereens. :) Set aside. Add soy sauce, sherry, rice wine vinegar, & pineapple juice to a large bowl, & mix together. Set aside. In a large (12-13") sauté pan, sauté ginger-garlic paste, shallots, chilies, & fennel in sesame seed oil for about 5 minutes on low heat, or until the raw smell disappears & the vegetables are tender. Deglaze with 1/2 of the soy sauce-sherry-vinegar-pineapple juice mixture you just made. Then add Chinese & green cabbage & shredded carrots & cook for 5 minutes on medium-high heat. Then add red bell pepper & shiitake mushrooms & cook another 5 minutes. Season with fennel seeds & all of the ground spices (Chinese star anise, cinnamon, clove, & white pepper). As the liquid cooks down, add a 1/4 c. of the soy sauce-sherry-vinegar-pineapple juice mixture at a time to prevent the vegetables from burning; DON'T pour all of the liquid in at once or the vegetables will become soggy. Cook until there's only a thin-layer of liquid at the bottom of the pan. Remove from heat. Add tofu, cilantro, & scallions, & gently toss until fully combined. Then, divide into individual servings, transfer to plates, & sprinkle each portion with toasted peanuts.
Yield: 2-3 servings as a main course, or 4-6 servings as a side dish.
Chef's Notes: Since dried Thai chili peppers are hard to come by, you can either dry your own or just use dried chile de arbol .
A few tips for making the crushed, toasted peanuts: Place peanuts on aluminium foil-covered toaster oven pan (for easy cleanup) & toast them on the "top brown" setting for about 30-60 seconds, or until light golden-brown. Peanuts toast extremely fast, so be sure to watch them carefully so they don't burn. Then, after peanuts have cooled sufficiently, lift up foil & wrap up ends, folding in all four-sides so that the peanuts are completely encased in foil. Place the foil "packet" you just created onto a clean, flat, sturdy surface & crush with the flat side of a meat mallet or press down (hard) with your palms onto the foil to crush. This is one of the most efficient & least messy (!) ways to prepare the peanuts. Believe me, I've tried a few of the other, less successful ways. ;) Just passing along the advice, so you don't have to learn the hard way. :)