Sunday, July 17, 2011

Recipe Mash-up: Country Style Tofu & Shiitake Mushrooms with Garlic Bok Choy

In recipe mash-up I take 2 different recipes and turn them into 1 dish. I made this because I had baby bok choy and cooked rice that required attention. The mushroom recipe comes from one of my favorite food blogs, Closet Cooking, with small modifications by me. The Country Style Soft Tofu and Garlic Bok Choy recipes are companion recipes from Moosewood Restaurant's cookbook Cooking for Health. I recommend any of the Moosewood cookbooks, however, this one is especially outstanding as it has revised and improved many dishes from previous cookbooks, enhancing both nutrition and flavor. I've separated the 3 recipes out, mainly to confuse people, but also to illustrate that they can easily be made individually for different effect. The final result, discussed more below, is a nice blend of American Chinese takeout, and more traditional Chinese dishes.

Seasoned Shiitake Mushrooms

  • Vegetable oil
  • 4 oz shittake mushrooms, stems removed and cut into thin slices
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
  • 1/4 C dry sherry
  • 1 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 generous tsp garlic-chili sauce
1. Heat the oil on high heat
2. Sautee the mushrooms for 4-5 mins, stirring frequently
3. Add garlic & ginger, sautee for a minute
4. Deglaze the pan with the sherry
5. Add soy sauce and chili sauce, reduce heat to desired thickeness
6. Add sesame oil
7. Remove from pan and set aside (Note: you can use the same pan for the bok choy if desired)

Country Style Soft Tofu:
  • 1 cake soft tofu
  • 1 C water
  • 1-2 Tbs soy sauce
  • 2 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 1 tsp rice vinegar (cider vinegar would also work well)
  • 2 Tbs corn starch
1. Gently cut the tofu into cubes. Curse tofu out when it breaks all over your cutting board.
2. Mix together water, soy sauce, sesame oil, vinegar & cornstarch
3. Bring to a boil, ensure cornstarch is thoroughly mixed into sauce
4. Bring to a simmer, stir until thickened
5. Add tofu, gently stir (use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon--try fruitlessly not to let tofu break)
6. Allow to sit on low heat, stirring occasionally   

Bok Choy with Garlic
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 heads baby bok choy (huge variation in size--mine were the equivalent of one full-sized head of bok choy)
  • 1/2 C water
  • 3 Tbs soy sauce
  • 1 tsp dark sesame oil
  • 8 garlic cloves (ya know, to keep the vampires away), minced
  • Green onions, sliced
  • Cooked rice
1. Clean the bok choy well (little critters like to crawl among the leaves). Cut into 1/2 inch slices. Discard the tough bottom part.  Keep the leafy portion separate.
2. Mix together the  water, soy sauce, and sesame oil
3. Heat the vegetable oil hot, hot, hot in a wok
4. Add garlic, stir for a minute, do not let that garlic burn
5.  Add bok choy stems, stirring constantly. You may need to turn down the stove to medium at this point, depending on how well your cookware retains heat
6. After 3 or so minutes, add the soy sauce mixture and bok choy leaves. Stir until the bok choy is well-coated and the leaves have wilted. Turn off heat. 

The big picture:
1. Put rice in a bowl
2. Add tofu and bok choy to your liking
3. Sprinkle a few of the mushrooms to your liking (they are salty and heavily seasoned--a little go along way)
4. Sprinkle on some green onions for flavor and texture.

Verdict? Very tasty, but one question...why did I make this in the summer? This is such a fall/winter dish! The whole dish worked together very well, but I'll comment on each item individually. The green onion does help pull together the meal, so think of it as an ingredient, not a garnish.
    Mushrooms:Nice chewy texture and concentrated flavor. I'll definitely make these as an add-on to my next attempt at Bibimbop. These would also be exceptional on a salad or in kimbap or a veggie maki roll.
     Tofu: The sauce is reminiscent of take-out (in a good way). It reminds me a bit of mopo tofu. I'm not  I don't often seek out soft tofu, but in this meal, it works.
     Bok Choy: This is very simple, but very good. A friend of mine from China runs a small Chinese that caters to both Americans and Chinese students. This dish is very similar to many of her traditional menu items. The sauce is far runnier than the sauce of the tofu, but this is typical in traditional dishes. The combination of both the thick sauce with the tofu and thin sauce of the bok choy unites well with the rice.

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