This almost-vegan (provided there are real oysters in your oyster sauce) weeknight dish is surely poised to become a favorite in the $35-a-week rotation. Not only would it be super-cheap with on-sale tofu and from-scratch beans (neither of which I had this time around, unfortunately), but the flavors echo those in Chinese black bean sauce, which I love, but with the added bulk and fiber of whole beans. Crispy fried tofu cubes add textural interest and even more protein. It would also, for you non-budgeting-folks, make a great side dish for duck or chicken, with or without the tofu.
Recipe adapted from one of my favorite food blogs, The Bitten Word. As below, it makes 2 servings.
• 1 package extra-firm tofu: $1.99
• 3 cups black beans (cooked from scratch, or 2 cans drained and rinsed…I’m ashamed to admit I used canned this time around): $1.38
• 3 T oyster sauce (the Bitten Word gents say you can substitute hoisin, but the oyster sauce is so perfect I’m loath to suggest it myself): 20 cents
• 1/4 cup soy sauce: 20 cents
• 3 garlic cloves, chopped: 3 cents
• 1 tsp sriracha or hot sauce: 5 cents
• 1 cup oil for frying (I reused this from the last time I fried tofu; just pour the fryer oil and keep it in the fridge so it stays fresh): $0
• Cilantro leaves for garnish: 8 cents
TOTAL: $3.93/2 = $1.96/serving
Put the tofu on a plate, weight it down with another plate and something heavy, and leave it for half an hour or so, until much of the water has been pressed out. (I have a photo of this process here.) Cut the tofu into cubes. Add the oil to a dutch oven or deep-sided skillet and heat until smoking.
Deep-fry tofu cubes on all sides until crispy and golden (tongs are best for this; don’t be alarmed if the cubes stick to it or each other. Just get them off/apart), drain on a paper-towel-lined plate.
Heat a little bit of the oil in a medium saucepan. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant. Add the black beans, soy sauce, sriracha, and oyster sauce and simmer about 10 minutes, or until beans have broken down a little bit.
Mine didn’t break down as much as I would have liked since they were canned, but they tasted fabulous all the same. Add the tofu cubes, stir well to combine. Serve sprinkled with cilantro.