Black Mushroom Tofu Recipe
In Vietnamese, this tofu dish is called tàu hủ xào nấm đông cô. This particular variety of mushrooms is delicious. Once re-hydrated, they have a fleshy, plump and even meatier, chewier texture than fresh shiitake mushrooms.
The delicate part of this preparation lies in soaking the mushrooms. You could soak them in cold water overnight or, if pressed for time as I was, re-hydrate them in warm water for about 1 hour. I saved the flavor-packed soaking liquid and made a thick sauce to accompany the tofu. I don't prepare this dish very often because one of the ingredients can be a little pricey, but it is sooooo tasty!
In order not to serve a mostly colorless dish, I included bright green string beans.
Yields: 6 servings1 (12-ounce) package firm tofu
4 tablespoons vegetable oil (or any neutral oil), as needed
½ teaspoon salt
2½ teaspoons tapioca starch
1 clove garlic, finely minced
½ yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
6 dried "nấm đông cô" (black mushrooms)
2 cups strings beans, blanched and cut on the bias
2 teaspoons black pepper sauce
1 tablespoon fresh green jalapeño chiles (optional), chopped
3 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon granulated sugar
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
Prepping the mushrooms: Cover the mushrooms with warm water. Let soak for about 1 hour. Squeeze out as much excess water as possible from the mushrooms. Cut them into quarters. Using a fine mesh strainer with a cheesecloth, filter the soaking "stock", discarding the solids and impurities and reserving the clear soaking liquid.
Preparing the tofu: Cut the tofu into 1¼-inch slices. In a wok, heat more oil. Pan-fry the slices on both sides until lightly golden. Cut the slices into thick strips. The tofu should still be moist inside and not over-cooked. Transfer the tofu onto paper towels. Sprinkle with salt.
In a small bowl, dissolve the tapioca starch in ¼ cup reserved soaking "stock". Stir well.
In the same wok, heat the oil and add the garlic. Cook for 2 minutes. As the garlic becomes slightly golden, add the strings beans. Cook for 2 minutes. Add ¼ cup reserved soaking "stock" and 1 tablespoon soy sauce. Cook for 4 minutes, tossing frequently. Transfer to a plate. Add ¼ cup of more of the reserved soaking "stock" (or water) to the wok, bring to a boil and add the tapioca mixture. Mix well. Once thickened, return the string beans, add the tofu pieces, onions, sugar, chiles, black pepper sauce and the remaining soy sauce. Stir constantly until all the sauce is evenly distributed. Toss well for 2-3 minutes. Check seasoning (add more salt if necessary). Add black pepper. Turn off the heat. Keep on the stove for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a serving platter.
Accompany the mushroom tofu dish with thick rice noodles, herb medley (Vietnamese mint and cilantro) and bean sprouts. Drizzle with veggie nước chấm.
Reminder on how to blanch beans: Wash the string beans. Blanch them for about 3-4 minutes in boiling water and transfer into an ice bath. Drain and pat dry on a paper towel. Do not over-cook the green beans as they will finish cooking in the wok. Trim the ends of the beans and cut them on the bias into 2 to 3 inch-pieces. Set aside.
The ingredients listed above can be found in any Asian specialty markets.Published By: on April 2, 2014.