Sesame-Soy Tofu and Vegetables

1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 tablespoon ketchup
1 tablespoon dijon mustard
4 tablespoons shoyu or tamari
3 tablespoons vegetarian oyster sauce
1 teaspoon sugar
1 cup vegetable steaming water (see below)
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups sushi rice or short-graiin white rice
Remaining Ingredients:
1 cup water
sea salt to taste
3 carrots peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
2 ribs celery cut into 1-inch pieces
1 head broccoli trimmed and cut unto 2-inch pieces
2 tablespoons canola oil divided
12 ounces firm tofu cut into small cubes
4 cloves garlic peeled and sliced
1 Italian or 2 Japanese eggplants cut into 1-inch pieces
4 tablespoons soy nuts
1 portobello mushroom stemmed and sliced

To make the sauce, combine the sesame oil, ketchup, mustard, shoyu, oyster sauce, and sugar in a bowl and whisk the ingredients well. You will add the vegetable-steaming water later. Set the sauce aside.

To make the rice, bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Stir in the rice. Bring the water back to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat to a low simmer. Cook the rice until all of the liquid has been absorbed, approximately 25 minutes. Set aside.

While the rice is cooking, bring the water to a boil in a Dutch oven and add a dash of sea salt. Place the carrots and celery in the water and cover the pot. Steam for 2 minutes. Add the broccoli to the pot and steam for 5 minutes longer. Drain the vegetables, reserving their steaming water. Spray the vegetables with cold water to stop their cooking and set aside. Pour the reserved water into the sauce.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a wok over high heat. When the oil is hot, carefully place the tofu in the wok in a single layer. Cook until it is golden, stirring 3 times. Remove the tofu from the wok and set aside.

Heat the remaining oil in the wok over high heat. Add the garlic and gingerroot to the wok and cook for 30 seconds. Add the mushroom and eggplant to the wok and cook until they begin to soften. Stir in the tofu and steamed vegetables to the wok. Whisk the sauce and pour it into the wok. Cook the ingredients for 2 minutes.

Transfer the meal to a large platter and garnish with the soy nuts. Divide the rice among four plates and serve the tofu and vegetables family-style.

TIP: Quite a bit of preparation is involved in this recipe, but once you have things in order, it moves quickly. The vegetables can be steamed and the sauce prepared a day in advance. Also, linguine or Asian-style noodles, such as udon (12-16 oz), can be substitutes for the rice. As with all noodle dishes, toss the cooked noodles with the tofu and vegetables for 2 minutes over low heat in the wok.

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