What do you notice when you first come into contact with a piece of pottery? I don’t think I ever just look at a pot. If I am going to “meet” that plate, bowl or cup, I must hold it in my hands, feel the weight, and touch its surfaces. The next time you are at a gallery opening or a craft show, watch the potter when they look at ceramic art. Potters always and automatically pick up at pot and turn it over to look at the foot. If they like the pot, they caress it like a lover. If they really like it, they have trouble putting it back down on the pedestal and feel compelled to come back and hold it again.
That’s how I felt when I first “met” the three pieces of pottery featured in the pictures below. They were made by Troy Bungart, and I really wish that you could hold them in addition to seeing them. They feel wonderful in the hands. When I eat out of the bowls, they fit perfectly in the cup of my palms. When I drink out of the little teabowl, the cup feels like it belongs in my hand, the rim feels good on my lips. These pieces look and feel like they were made by a master potter; this is no accident because they were, in fact, made by the best of the best. This guy is the real deal!
It is my great honor to feature Troy Bungart’s pots alongside my own here. Troy and I developed this recipe together; I wish he had been here to share the stir fry with Bob and me tonight. He is in Michigan and we are in New York. But I have his pots and he will have my pictures and recipe, so we are virtually sharing this delicious meal.
My sweetie and I are cooking and eating in our temporary camp in the basement now as our kitchen is completely demolished; gutted. I’d like to tell you that our renovation has been easy and painless so far. But that would require lying! The good news it that we have a wonderful team of true artisans on our project and we have great hope for the result. Even in the midst of mess, drama, worry, and inconvenience, making this delicious dish and eating out of Troy’s bowls has been pure joy!
Veggie and Tofu Stir Fry with Peanut Sauce
Serves 2-4 depending on what else you are eating.
You can serve this over your favorite rice, other grain, or noodles. Cauliflower “rice” would make a nice bed, as would cooked spaghetti squash or greens. We like a big bowl over nothing at all!
You can easily substitute different vegetables depending on what you find in the market or what you like. If you don’t eat peanuts, substitute another nut and leave out the peanut powder. I haven’t tried it, but I imagine you could use almond flour or finely ground cashews here. If you don’t use cornstarch, you may use a different thickener or simply omit.
Troy recommended the Mongolian Fire Sauce. It is wonderful!
Tofu and Veg:
1 block extra firm tofu, drained and pressed*
2 tbs. neutral cooking oil, I used peanut
1 inch knob of ginger, finely minced
2 scallions, sliced
1 ½ cups sliced shiitake mushrooms
1 ½ cups sliced bell peppers, use your favorite colors; I used babies here
1 Belgian endive, sliced lengthwise
2 cups sugar snap peas, trimmed and cleaned
1 lb. asparagus, trimmed, cleaned and sliced
¼ cup white wine or sake
1 tbs. cornstarch
2 tbs. peanut powder (I like pb2) (optional)
2 tbs. soy sauce
1 tsp. toasted sesame oil
½ cup stock (vegetable or chicken)
agave or honey to taste (optional)
Garnishes: toasted peanuts, sliced scallion, additional soy or sesame oil, Mongolian Fire Sauce or Sriracha.
*Take the tofu out of its water and rinse. Squeeze it gently between your hands. Place it on a small plate with a kitchen towel under it, then fold the towel over it. Place another plate on top. Put this whole construction in the fridge for 15 minutes. Now, your tofu is properly drained and pressed.
This recipe provides a perfect opportunity to prep in advance. Get everything ready before you start cooking and have all the ingredients in reach. Once you do this, the finished dish comes together in minutes. Mix all the sauce ingredients, too. And have the garnishes ready.
You can do all the cooking in one big nonstick skillet, but I really prefer my regular All-Clad for just about everything. However, the tofu does best in the nonstick, so I used two different pans. This is not really necessary.
Either way, first brown the tofu over high heat in 1 tbs. of the oil. Set the tofu aside while you do the veggies.
Start the ginger and scallions in cold oil and bring the temp up. When they begin to really sizzle, add the veg, one at a time, in the order listed. Cook each for a minute or so before adding the next. Cook them all together for just a couple of minutes and then add the wine. Let the bubble for a minute. Now, stir the sauce ingredients and add to the pan. Cook until the sauce thickens and coat the veggies. Gently stir in the tofu and warm it through. Serve over your chosen base, or not, and with your preferred garnishes.
Visit Troy Bungart’s blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, Pinterest account, or Instagram feed. To purchase pottery tools, go to his Etsy page. And for a real treat, check out his work at the Schaller Gallery.