Pineapple tofu with king mushrooms is a great dish for both vegetarians and "meat-atarians", as my little munchkin would say. King mushrooms, also known as "abalone mushrooms", have a very meaty, chewy texture that I love. They complement the pineapple really well. If you can’t find fresh pineapple, canned crushed pineapple will work fine. I made a sweet and sour sauce using canned pineapple and dipped the fried tofu in the sauce with the mushrooms.
Even if you are a "meat-atarian", it’s worth working some vegetable dishes into your diet. It’s good for your health, and if you try recipes like this one, it will be good for your tastebuds as well.
Servings: 6 servings
1 (12-ounce) package firm tofu (see tips)
1/3 cup canola oil (or any neutral oil)
1 (8-ounce) can crushed pineapple
2 cloves garlic, finely minced
½ teaspoon mushroom seasoning salt (or regular salt)
1 shallot, finely chopped
1 (1-inch) chunk fresh ginger
3 king oyster mushrooms (see tips), sliced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons grated palm sugar (half of a chunk)
4 sprigs cilantro
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
Clean the ginger root and remove any dirt. Peel the ginger root with a paring knife (or the edge of a spoon). Cut into 1 to 1-½" matchsticks. Set aside.
Drain and cut the tofu into ½-inch slices. Cut the slices crosswise into small rectangles. In a wok, heat the canola oil. Pan-fry the slices on both sides until golden and puffy. The tofu should have a nice fried outer crust and still be moist inside. Transfer the tofu onto paper towels. Sprinkle with mushroom seasoning salt. Set aside.
In a bowl, dissolve the palm sugar with 3 tablespoons of water. Warm it in the microwave (or on the stove in a small saucepan). Set aside.
Using the same wok, remove 2-3 tablespoons of oil. Add the shallots and cook until golden. Add the mushrooms slices. Cook for about 2-3 minutes. Season with mushroom seasoning salt. Transfer to a platter with the mushroom juice.
Add more oil (if necessary) to the wok. Add the garlic and fresh ginger. As the garlic becomes slightly golden, add the crushed pineapple, palm sugar liquid and soy sauce. Bring to a boil; add a little more water (2-3 tablespoons) if necessary. Add the tofu pieces and mushrooms. Stir constantly until the sauce is absorbed by the fried tofu. Once the water evaporates, check the doneness of the mushrooms. Finish with black pepper and cilantro.
Serve with steamed jasmine rice.
Eat with chopsticks!
You can find king oyster mushrooms in Asian stores.
To guarantee good absorption of the pineapple sauce by the fried tofu, make sure you don't add too much oil to the mixture.
The soy sauce brings saltiness to the dish and a nice amber brown color. My favorite soy sauce is the Da Bo De brand. It has a good flavor and is not too salty. You can find this particular sauce at Dai Thanh Asian market on 420 S 2nd St, in downtown San Jose. I think this is one of the best "ethnic" grocery stores in the area.
If you have leftover pineapple pulp/juice, you could make a pineapple cocktail drink.
I absolutely love Thanh Son brand tofu. If you live in the Bay Area, you have to try it. They sell it in almost all the Asian markets in downtown San Jose, and their main shop is on 2857 Senter Road, San Jose. It's a very little shop but everything is very good. Their factory makes the best tofu texture; it's made fresh daily.
I used tofu for this recipe but you could also substitute seitan for a chewier texture. I think seitan resembles meat a lot.
If you like meat, you could add stir-fried beef flank steak slices.