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Comments on Thursday 11 December 2003:
How to make Not-General-Tso's-But-Raven's Not-Chicken-Either

Warning: May Contain Tofu. However, it is tofu cooked in such a way that people who say "eurgh, tofu" don't actually find it unpleasant. People who are allergic to tofu, however, will still swell up like comedy balloons.

First, don't make sure you have all the ingredients. Ingredients are for wimps. If you're missing an ingredient, subsitute something else. For example, soy-sauce tastes much the same as brine, and it's not uncommon for Tso recipes to have wine in place of half the vinegar, which suggests that you could probably replace all the vinegar with wine if you felt like it. Especially if it's a crappy beaujolais. Replace tofu with chicken, replace garlic with onion, replace ginger with coriander, replace sugar with honey or jam, replace oil with margarine, and replace water with urine. It'll taste like crap, but you won't have to go to the shops.

Now wash some dishes, because you don't want your Not-Actually-Chicken to end up tasting like baked beans

Next you'll have to mix two sorts of soy-sauce together, not because it will taste any different but because the first sort will run out and you'll have to pad it out with the other sort. Once the two are mixed together you'll have about a half-cup (the measure, not actual cups which are generally bigger) of soy-sauce. Put it in some sort of mixing space like a jug or bowl or pan or large mouth that promises it won't swallow, because you're about to mix some other stuff with it.

Add a little bit less white vinegar, or rice vinegar, than you just did soy sauce. It wasn't actually a half-cup at all, was it? Admit it! But that's okay so long as this is almost the same.

Add about half that much sugar. I use white sugar, but that's not because all the ingredients are supposed to be white. I'd be worried, in fact, if your soy-sauce was white, and white vinegar is actually transparent anyway. Also, the half-as-much sugar is by volume, not by weight, so keep it away from those bathroom scales. Most Tso recipes call for more sugar than this, but they're evil and wrong and plotting to rot your teeth and kidneys.

Add all the garlic that's left in your jar of garlic, unless your jar is much more full than mine was in which case only add about one to two teaspoons, or a few smooshed cloves. Of garlic. Don't go adding cloves just because I didn't say 'of garlic' in the same sentence as cloves. That would make a really horrible sauce.

Add half a teaspoon of ground ginger, or, since your ground ginger is in one of those stupid sprinkly containers, add some arbitrary number of shakes of the container that you just made up. Probably less than 20.

Add another of those 'half cups', this time of water. This is handy since whatever thing you're using to carry these so-called half-cups can have the sticky goo that thus far remains in it rinsed into the mixy-container at the same time.

Put the mix in the fridge. The cooling is a factor of some sort, apparently, so the refrigeration is an actual step, silly though that seems.

Now, go back in time at least 24 hours, drain a block of coarse tofu, and put it in the freezer. Then return to your own time, and retrieve the tofu, making sure you didn't bring the freezer back through the timewarp too, since you want the tofu to have had time to freeze.

Now say "tsk, I forgot, this is supposed to have been defrosted", go back in time 6 hours with the tofu, and leave it covered somewhere. Return to your own time, and retrieve the defrosted tofu (though it does have to have been previously frozen - that changes its texture). Alternatively, if your time-travel device malfunctions after the previous use, you can microwave the tofu on low power to get it defrosted enough that you can cut it into inch-sized cubes, which, either way, you should do.

Sprinkle the cubes with soy-sauce.

Somehow cover the cubes in cornflour (this is corn-starch in America). Dipping them works but tends to result in it annoyingly flaking off, and the dip-powder solidifying gradually. Sprinkling it on them gets similar results, but uses a bit less cornflour and a bit more effort. The best way is to ask someone else to do this part while you busily, er, heat the oil. For ten minutes.

Heat some deep oil. Deep-frying is best. You can, apparently, do this part with shallow frying, but I bet it sucks if you do. Heating the oil should take about three minutes, but if you've got someone else covering the tofu-blocks in cornflour, you can heat it over a lower flame to make it take the same amount of time it takes them to do that, and thus you can't possibly help them because heating oil is a very attention-intensive task.

Put the sauce-sprinkled cornflour-covered cubes in the hot oil. Try to stop them sticking together. This won't work, but you'll have such fun trying, especially if you try to hold them apart with your hands underneath the surface of the boiling oil. Take pictures if you do that. But, er, remember, this recipe said not to do it, in the event of a lawsuit.

While that's frying, taste the sauce in the fridge, and realise that it tastes really far too vinegary at the moment. Fix that by adding about half a teaspoon of chilli-powder, and a little more of paprika, and a few drops of a nice hot-sauce, and another quarter-cup or so of water. At this point you should decide that you'd like the sauce a bit gloopy today, and hence add about a level tablespoon of cornflour to it.

Once the blobs are a bit crispy (takes between five and ten minutes), take their oil off the heat, and raise the blobs in a magical little basket thingy so the oil drains off them into the other oil, unless you are a fool who thinks shallow frying is the way forward in which case I don't know what you should do because you're silly and probably shouldn't be cooking this recipe at all.

Heat a little oil in a normal shallow frying pan. Chop up an onion and fry it, unless you don't like onions in which case simply don't do the oniony bit since it's mostly just to add a bit of lumpiness to the sauce anyway.

Once the onions are fried, or the oil is hot if there are to be no onions, pour the sauce into the pan. Let it get hot, and then add the blobs. Let it all simmer together for a few minutes, with stirring. About now you should panic and think "aiee, this sauce is too thin, perhaps I shouldn't have added that extra bit of water". And rightly so, because it is a bit too thin, actually, so go back in time and persuade yourself that you shouldn't have added that extra bit of water, or perhaps that you should have added a bit more cornflour. If your time machine is broken, don't worry, it's still quite nice, and the sauce does thicken up a bit if you let it cool slightly before you serve it.

Serve it in the middle of a circle of broccoli or some other vegetable or some rice, which someone else cooked while you were doing all this. If they didn't then bollocks to them, can't they even make a little bit of effort when you're cooking a complicated thing like this? Nothing but lumps for dinner tonight, all of you!

Blog the entire recipe with which to remind yourself. [14:35]

RavenBlack
And again, minor error remedied.

Naazima
Can I smoosh the garlic this time? Smooshing garlic is a fun thing to do. Also, while smooshing, is it okay for me to say out loud "Smoosh"?? It gets laughter out of the siblings at least....

AttackOfTheSpam
This sounds good - I think I'll set the tofu freezing today so I can try it tomorrow. But be warned - if this sucks, I'm going to die and haunt you for all eternity.

AND DON'T YOU THINK I WON'T!!

RavenBlack
Saying smoosh is not just optional, it's an obligatory part of smooshing.

Andromeda
very very amusing recipie. Must print out to cook and show people that Tofu can be your friend. Thank you!
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