From chef Spike Gjerde of Woodberry Tavern in Baltimore, Maryland: “Over the past few years, I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from Sichuan techniques and flavors. This dish, a seasonal version of which will be on the Tavern menu, applies those flavors to the Mid-Atlantic’s best fall produce. Jim Crebs at Tomatoes, etc. in Westminster grew the squash, and the apples came from Dave Hochheimer at Black Rock Orchard in Lineboro. I stock up on garlic (and everything else) from One Straw Farm in White Hall whenever they have it. Even the ginger was grown in Severn, at Knopp’s Farm. Note: as much as I love salt, this recipe doesn’t include it because the black beans add enough on their own; be sure to taste to make sure.”

Serves two, generously.

Best cooked in a Heather.


  • 8 ounces silken (or soft) tofu (270g)
  • 1 delicata squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (250g)
  • 1 medium apple, cored and chopped (150g)
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced (20 g)
  • 1 small knob of ginger, minced (10g)
  • 32g fermented black beans (or substitute with miso)
  • 3 stalks celery, chopped (100g)
  • 1 bunch scallions (100 grams), white and light green sections chopped, dark green tops thinly sliced, kept separate 
  • 8g corn or potato starch
  • 2g Sichuan peppercorn, ground


    Preheat oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the starch and 200g of water to a small jar and shake until thoroughly mixed. Set aside. Add one tablespoon (20g) of sesame oil and the tofu to Estee Butter Pat. Place in oven.

    Add one tablespoon (20g) of sunflower oil to Butter Pat Heather. Add the squash over medium heat. Stir occasionally and cook until lightly browned and the texture is al dente. Turn the heat up to medium-high. Add celery to pan and cook for 2–3 min, stirring occasionally. Add ginger and garlic to pan and cook for 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add scallions and apple to pan and cook for another minute.

    Push vegetables to the edges of the pan, and add the black bean paste to the middle. Fry briefly before mixing it into the vegetables until coated. Add the Sichuan peppercorn and stir to coat. 

    Let everything cook together for another minute and then add the starch-water mixture to the pain. Stir to coat. Turn the heat to medium and let simmer for a minute. Add a splash of water if mixture seems too thick.

    Remove warmed tofu from the oven and layer squash over, covering completely. Garnish with reserved sliced scallion tops. Transfer from Heather to a pre-warmed Estee. When serving, be sure to spoon down into the tofu. Serve with rice.


    Photo and recipe courtesy of Spike Gjerde.

    October 27, 2022

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