I’m going to quote my mother-in-law on this one: There is NEVER a wrong time for Chinese food. So for this week’s What the Fuck Do You Even Eat, I decided to put up a recipe for some good old fashioned vegan takeout.
I lived with a Buddhist family in China for around 6 months when I had planned on teaching out there. One might say that they were my true introduction to vegetarianism, for their diet was nearly vegan. Cheese isn’t used nearly as much out there, dairy is expensive, and they had a wonderful Joyoung soy milk maker that ended up being a staple in many of their recipes.
I learned a lot of things from Hou Minchi, who was the host mother in the family I was staying with. When I wasn’t training and she was in the kitchen, she taught me the wonders of pressing freshly made tofu and searing it just so in a wok, how soy sauce will coat and glaze with exactly the right amount of oil in the pan, and why Chinese cuisine as endured so long.
This recipe is similar to one I had while living out there. The tofu is cut into small, thin triangles and fried in hot oil until just browned. Then the mushroom sauce is sauteed and thickened, the tofu put back in, and the entire thing simmered just long enough for those exotic flavors to blend. I like serving this with a side of freshly cooked brown rice (if you start the rice when you soak the mushrooms and do the prep it should get done at the same time) and hoisin glazed green beans (which are totally in season right now!).
Mushroom Glazed Tofu
Makes 4-6 servings
- 1 lb x-firm tofu, drained and pressed for at least 30 minutes
- 10 dried shiitake mushrooms or 1/2 oz black fungus
- 1.5 tbsp peanut oil
- 8-10 oz mushrooms of your choice (I like oysters or creminis)
- 4 scallions, thinly sliced, white/light green and dark green parts separated
- 1 tbsp minced fresh or 1.5 tbsp pickled ginger, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 tbsp thick soy sauce or soy paste
- .5 tsp sugar or 1 tsp mirin
- 1 tbsp cream or dry sherry
- 1 tbsp sesame oil
- Soak the mushrooms in 1 cup of boiling water for 20-30 minutes.
- Drain the mushrooms and reserve the liquid. Pour through a paper towel to get the grit out and make sure you have at least 1/2 cup. If you don’t, add more water until you do.
- Rinse the mushrooms and squeeze out excess liquid. Stem and thinly slice.
- Cut the tofu into 4 squares, then cut each square in half (triangles), then each triangle into thirds sitting on its longest side. You’ll end up with 24 triangles.
- Heat 1 tbsp of the oil on medium high heat and fry the tofu until browned on both sides. This can take about 2-3 minutes on each side if the oil is properly heated. Remove to a side plate or dish.
- Place the remaining oil in the skillet and heat it. Toss in the ginger, garlic, all the mushrooms, and the white part of the scallions. Stir constantly for 2-4 minutes, until fragrant and softened.
- Add the soaking liquid, soy sauce, wine, and mirin and bring to a high simmer. Drop the heat down to medium
- Toss in the tofu, green parts of the scallions, 1/2 the sesame oil, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook until the mushrooms are done and the liquid is reduced by 1/3 to 1/2.
- Stir in the remaining sesame oil and serve!