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Recipe: Spicy Glazed Tofu From Num Pang Sandwich Shop

Versatile, full of flavor, and perfect for any season

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Evan Sung

Six years ago friends Ratha Chaupoly and Ben Daitz opened Num Pang Sandwich Shop in Manhattan's Union Square, and almost immediately people began buzzing about their Cambodian-style sandwiches. Filled with savory, stewed meats, tender vegetables, and flavorful greens, the soups, sandwiches, and salads continue to draw lines. Today, the pair have eight locations around New York City and plans to expand.

Next month, they release Num Pang: The Cookbook, Bold Recipes from New York City's Favorite Sandwich Shop (available for pre-order now). In it is, of course, a recipe for the insanely delicious pulled pork with honey, the basis of the shop's most popular sandwich. But also find this, a recipe for Chaupoly and Daitz's spicy glazed tofu, a versatile main course that would make a great sandwich filling but could also fill in as a topping for simple steamed rice, a bowl full of greens, or a mess of tender noodles. They suggest, in the recipe notes below, serving the tofu with sautéed leeks or Swiss chard. File this one away; it'll be come a standard soon enough.

Spicy Glazed Tofu

Serves 4

Marinated with soy sauce, garlic, and ginger, then seared and basted in a skillet, this tofu is all about caramelized edges and a deep, nutty flavor. It develops a soft bitterness as the sugar in the soy sauce concentrates and even burns a little in the hot pan. You can serve this with just about anything — we usually opt for sautéed leeks (page 114) or Swiss chard (page 131).

1 pound extra-firm tofu, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch-thick pieces

1 1/4 cups soy sauce

1 cup honey

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped peeled fresh ginger

2 1/2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh garlic

3/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground dried Thai bird's eye chile

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

Steamed jasmine rice, for serving

Sauteed Leeks (page 114) or Swiss Chard (page 131), for serving

1. Place the tofu in an airtight container so it all lies flat in one layer. In a medium bowl, whisk together the soy sauce, honey, sugar, ginger, garlic, cayenne, black pepper, and ground chile, then pour enough of the sauce over the tofu to cover it (cover and refrigerate the rest to use for cooking the tofu). Refrigerate the tofu for at least 6 hours or overnight.

2. Remove the tofu from the marinade. Heat a nonstick skillet over low heat. Pour about one-quarter of the reserved marinade into the pan and once it starts to sizzle, add about half the tofu, taking care not to overcrowd the pan. Pour a little marinade from the container into the skillet so the tofu is covered. Cook the tofu, occasionally spooning the marinade over the tofu, until it is nicely glazed and caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes. Carefully turn the tofu strips over and cook on other side, occasionally spooning marinade over the tofu, until it is caramelized, 2 to 3 minutes more. Repeat with the remaining marinade and tofu.

3. Serve drizzled with the sesame oil with steamed rice and sautéed leeks alongside.

Text excerpted from NUM PANG, © 2016 by Ratha Chaupoly and Ben Daitz. Reproduced by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. All rights reserved.