To make this soup as close as possible to the source of our inspiration, a Korean tofu stew, you'd need to use one of the many types of Asian chile-garlic pastes; about a tablespoon will do. An easier alternative--and a delicious one, too--is the combination of cayenne, paprika, and plenty of garlic that we've used here.
1 cup rice
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 pound boneless pork chops, cut into approximately 1 1/2-by-1/4-by-1/4-inch strips
3 scallions, white bulbs and green tops chopped and reserved separately
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon paprika
5 cups water
2 ribs celery, sliced thin
1 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice
3/4 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons soy sauce
4 teaspoons Asian sesame oil
1 teaspoon white- or rice-wine vinegar
1 pound firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1/4 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
How to Make It
Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil. Stir in the rice and boil until just done, 10 to 12 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, in a large pot, heat the oil over moderately high heat. Add the pork, the scallion bulbs, the garlic, cayenne, and paprika and cook, stirring frequently, until the pork starts to brown, about 2 minutes.
Add the water, celery, zucchini, and salt. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the vegetables and pork are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar, tofu, and pepper and cook for 5 minutes more.
Stir the scallion tops into the soup. Put a mound of rice in the center of each of four bowls. Ladle the soup around the rice.
Wine Recommendation: Riesling wines and Asian flavors are truly a match made in heaven. Pay attention, however, to the degree of heat in the food; the more fire, the sweeter the wine should be to cool the burn. Here, a spätlese, preferably from Germany's Pfalz, is in order.