Vegetables, yarn, and yarns: all of my passions all in one place.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Braised Tofu and Mushrooms and Noodles with Asparagus (Sort of)

And so yesterday, it was my night to cook. I busted out my library cookbooks and set to work making something delicious, vegetarian, and of course, thai/chinese, as the month is still March, though nowhere near the Ides anymore.

I found just the thing, or rather things, in a cookbook entitled 350 Thai and Chinese Low-Fat Recipes for Healthy Living. I would have been quite satisfied with just the asian part, but heck, I'm always up for healthy living, unless it takes away from my ability to eat chocolate cake. I had tofu on hand, as well as a newly purchased cellophaned package of sliced button mushrooms, and so the main course went a little something like this:

Get out a large skillet and boil 1/2 a package of noodles, then drain and hold in reserve in a colander for later. You'll see why in a bit.

Braised Tofu with Mushrooms
-adjusted from 350 Thai and Chinese Low-Fat Recipes...

What you need:
-one package of tofu
-1/2 t sesame oil, lacking that, I used flax/sunflower oil. I don't like sesame oil anyway.
-1 T and 2 t soy sauce
-1 T veggie oil
-2 minced garlic cloves
-1/2 t grated ginger, lacking that, I used a generous sprinkling of powdered ginger from my spice rack
-roughly 5 c. of various asian-y mushrooms, lacking that, I used my package of button
-1 T dry sherry, lacking that, I used 1 T of two-week-old white reisling from the frig
-6 T veggie stock
-1 t cornstarch
-1 T cold water
-salt and pepper

1. Put tofu in a bowl and sprinkle with the flax/sunflower oil and 2 t of the soy sauce, along with a generous dose of pepper. Marinate for 10 minutes and then drain and cut into 1 inch squares

2. Heat oil in that large skillet. When hot, fry garlic for a few seconds. Add mushrooms and sprinkle with ginger. Cook about 2 minutes.

3. Stir in the wine, the rest of the soy sauce, and the stock, along with a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Simmer 4 minutes.

4. Mix cornstarch with water to make a paste and add that into the pan, stirring to thicken. Add tofu and toss. Cook another 2 minutes before serving, or in my case, putting all of the pan's contents back in the bowl and covering it to keep it warm while I cook the side dish.

Side dish: Noodles with carrot and asparagus
-also adjusted from 350 Thai Chinese Low-Fat Recipes...

What you need:
-1/2 package of cooked egg noodles, lacking that, I used Ronzoni's Garden Delight Linguini
-1 T veggie oil
-1 small onion, chopped, lacking that, a fourth of a bag of frozen chopped onion, celery, and green pepper
-1 inch of fresh grated ginger, lacking that, back to the ole powdered ginger from the spice rack
-2 garlic cloves, crushed
-6 oz. young asparagus, lacking that a can of whole asparagus, drained
-2 c. bean sprouts, lacking that, 2 julienned carrots
-3 T soy sauce
-salt and pepper

1. Heat oil in skillet and add onion mix and carrots sprinkled with a liberal amount of ginger and the garlic. Stir fry for a few minutes. Add asparagus and cook another 2-3 minutes.

In theory, canned asparagus would work the same as fresh, but alas, by the end of the first minute, I had asparagus mush with a few stems still intact. Honestly, I picked asian countries in the spring, because asian recipes tend to call for spring veggies. However, in this part of the globe, March is not spring, even when it's supposed to be. Here in Ohio, the asparagus are still hiding in the ground. Maybe if I make this again, I'll get to use the real deal.

2. You should be adding the noodle at this step, except that carrots do not substitute especially well cook-time wise for bean sprouts. Thus, instead, you will be adding an asparagus can-worth of water to the pan and boiling some carrots. It's okay. The asparagus is mush already anyway.

3. Add the noodles and reheat for 2 minutes. Stir in the soy sauce and mix well. Season to taste, using salt only sparingly. Stir fry another minute and then plate.

Despite, disintegrating asparagus, the side dish turned out well, the carrot cooked just long enough to retain a slight crunch that paired well with the mush of the asparagus and the soft bite of the noodles. It was very light and also tasted quite authentic, real ginger be darned. As for the main course, I remain a fan of pre-baking tofu with flavoring to take out the excess water and give it some extra flavor. The 10 minutes of marinade just wasn't enough. It was still good, being tofu, but I didn't taste the oil or soy sauce at all. It was just tofu-tasting and a little chalky because not enough water got out in the quick-cook method of this recipe. The mushrooms, however, were divine.

And the two dishes paired well together,

whether kept on separate sides of a plate 

or mixed all together in one bowl of glorious Chinese/Thai soy sauce bliss.

The Next Day's Leftovers.

We ended up eating about half of the food and put the rest in tupperware in the frig. Tonight, I made up 4 cups of Miso soup, using instant miso. Then, I got out all of last night's leftovers and plopped them all into the soup and boiled it up nice and hot. The miso did wonders, as it always does, for the chalky tofu and the veggies and noodles made for a nice miso surprise. Best miso soup I've ever had and possibly the best miso soup I've ever tasted.

So if nothing else, make the meal for the next day's miso. It's worth it.

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