1tablespooncornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon cold water
3scallionsgreen parts only, thinly sliced
1/2teaspoonsesame oil(optional but important for flavor)
Preheat oven to 425F. Cut the block of tofu in half lengthwise and then slice each half into approximately 8 slices about 1/2-inch thick. Brush each slice with soy sauce on both sides and place on a baking sheet. Bake until light brown, about 15 minutes, and then turn over and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from oven and set aside.
While the tofu is baking, pour the hot water over the sliced shiitake mushrooms. (If you don’t have sliced mushrooms, use whole ones and slice after rehydrating.) Allow them to soak until soft. Leave the mushrooms in the soaking liquid and set aside until needed.
Spray a wok or large non-stick skillet with a little canola oil and place over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, black beans, and red pepper, and stir-fry for about 1 minute. (See note below.) Add the red pepper strips and cook for another minute. Stir in the mushrooms, along with their soaking liquid, and add the tofu and soy sauce. Let simmer for about 10 minutes to allow the tofu to absorb the flavors. Then stir in the cornstarch mixture and stir until thickened. Add the sliced green onions and sesame oil and serve immediately over rice. Makes 4 servings.
I used black beans that were packed in oil and pressed them lightly to remove as much of the oil as possible. If you are using the type of fermented black beans that are packed dry, you may want to lightly crush them before adding them to the skillet. Also, adding a little water or oil to the skillet will make stir-frying them with the garlic easier.Adapted and re-adapted from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook: Recipes from Hunan Province.