This recipe was one of the first we posted when we started writing about Weekday Vegetarianism and it seems more than appropriate considering tofu and mushrooms are two important protein sources for vegetarians and vegans alike. It's great to revisit it through The Cooking Project and remember how fantastic it is. Easy and fast to put together, but don't let the simplicity fool you -- it's filled with flavor!
I loved making this up for a weekend lunch. What I will do next time I make this is quickly grill or fry the tofu first to create a bit more of a crust for texture, then add the tofu to the sauté mixture. If you like crispier tofu, I recommend adding in that step to the recipe.
More on The Cooking Project.
TreeHugger founder Graham Hill found himself in a quandry about a year ago. He knew the health problems that can be caused by eating meat, the awful treatment of animals in factory farming, as well as the ecological problems for the health of the planet. And yet, he still ate meat.
Graham found a solution to this conundrum that he was comfortable with. Here is a bit of his TED talk earlier this year outlining that solution:
I realized I was being a pitched a binary solution. Either you're a meat-eater or you're a vegetarian and I guess I just wasn't ready. Imagine: Your last burger. So, my common sense and my good intentions clashed with my taste buds and lead me to commit to doing it "later". And later never came. Sound familiar?
I wondered "Could there be a 3rd option?" And I found one, and I 've been doing it for the last year and it works. It's called Weekday Vegetarian. And the name says it all. Nothing with a face during the week and on the weekends, your call.
I'm starting a series called Weekday Vegetarian and will provide you with a vegetarian or vegan recipe from Monday to Friday. The focus will be on healthy foods using fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. I'm starting the series with this tofu and wild mushroom dish which I made for my son. I added some szechuan peppercorns, because he likes a bit of heat, and it was a nice addition. I didn't have any dried shiitake mushrooms so I used a bit of dried black trumpet mushrooms and some morels. Then I used up some fresh mushrooms that I had in my refrigerator. If you have fresh mushrooms, by all means use them, add them before the dried mushrooms and let them cook for a few minutes. Then add some vegetable stock or water in place of the mushroom soaking water. You can have this simple recipe on the table in about half an hour. Serve it over rice, or Chinese noodles.
Tofu and Wild Mushrooms
8 dried shiitake mushrooms
2 tbsp sesame oil
1 1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and minced
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
2 green onions, cut into 1/4 inch pieces, roots and tough tips discarded
1 package firm tofu, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tbsp cold water
1 tbsp powdered kudzu, arrowroot, cornstarch of other thickener
1 tbsp soy sauce, or to taste
1 tsp lemon juice, or to taste
A pinch of red pepper flakes
1. Soak the shiitake mushrooms in 1 1/2 - 2 cups of water for 20 minutes, or until soft. Drain, reserving the liquid for later use. Cut off and discard the stem, if desired, and slice the remainder in 1/4 inch pieces.
2. Heat the oil in a wok or skillet over medium-high heat. Add the shiitakes, green onions, and tofu and stir to combine.
3. Add 1 cup of the mushroom liquid, cover and cook over medium-high heat for 5 to 7 minutes.
4. While the tofu and mushrooms are cooking, in a small bowl, stir together 1/4 cup of the reserved mushroom liquid and the kudzu or other thickener until no lumps remain. Heat a small saute pan over medium-high heat, add the ginger and garlic and cook for 30 to 60 seconds, until fragrant. Add the kudzu mixture and soy sauce and stir. Cook for another minute until the sauce has thickened.
5. Add the sauce to the tofu and mushrooms and stir to coat. Flavor with lemon juice, and sprinkle with red pepper to the right spiciness for you. Enjoy!
Adapted from Ancient Wisdom, Modern Kitchen by Yuan Wang, Warren Sheir and Mika Ono