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Braised Tofu with Mushrooms: A Flavorful Vegetarian Delight

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Braised tofu with mushrooms is a comforting and flavorful dish that combines the delicate texture of tofu with the earthy richness of mushrooms, all simmered in a savory sauce. This dish is popular in various Asian cuisines, including Chinese and Japanese, where tofu (bean curd) is a staple ingredient appreciated for its versatility and ability to absorb flavors. Braising involves cooking food slowly in a flavorful liquid, allowing the ingredients to meld together while creating a delicious sauce. Here’s how you can make braised tofu with mushrooms at home, creating a dish that is both satisfying and nutritious.

Ingredients

For the Braised Tofu:

  • 1 block (about 400g) firm tofu, cut into cubes
  • 200g mushrooms (shiitake, button, or your preferred variety), sliced
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, minced
  • 2 green onions, chopped (separate white and green parts)
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon Shaoxing wine or dry sherry
  • 1 tablespoon oyster sauce (optional for umami flavor)
  • 1 cup vegetable broth or water
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Fresh cilantro or parsley, for garnish

Instructions

1. Prepare the Tofu

  1. Cut and Drain Tofu: Cut the tofu into cubes and place them on paper towels. Gently press another layer of paper towels on top to absorb excess moisture. Let it sit for about 15 minutes to drain.
  2. Sear Tofu: Heat 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in a large skillet or wok over medium-high heat. Add tofu cubes and cook until golden brown on all sides, about 5-7 minutes. Remove tofu from the skillet and set aside.

2. Prepare the Mushrooms

  1. Sauté Mushrooms: In the same skillet or wok, add another tablespoon of vegetable oil if needed. Add minced garlic, ginger, and the white parts of the green onions. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until fragrant.
  2. Add Mushrooms: Add sliced mushrooms to the skillet. Stir-fry for 3-4 minutes until mushrooms are softened and slightly browned.

3. Braise the Tofu and Mushrooms

  1. Combine Ingredients: Return seared tofu cubes to the skillet with the mushrooms. Stir in soy sauce, Shaoxing wine or dry sherry, and oyster sauce (if using). Mix well to coat the tofu and mushrooms evenly with the sauce.
  2. Add Liquid: Pour vegetable broth or water into the skillet. Bring the mixture to a simmer.
  3. Simmer: Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 10-15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the flavors have melded together and the sauce has thickened slightly.
  4. Season: Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper as needed.

4. Serve Braised Tofu with Mushrooms

  1. Garnish: Transfer braised tofu and mushrooms to a serving dish. Garnish with the green parts of chopped green onions and fresh cilantro or parsley.
  2. Serve Hot: Serve immediately over steamed rice or noodles. Enjoy the tender tofu and savory mushrooms in a flavorful sauce, complemented by the aromatic ginger and garlic.

Tips for Success

  • Tofu Texture: Pressing the tofu helps remove excess moisture, allowing it to brown better when searing.
  • Mushroom Varieties: Use your favorite mushrooms or a mix of varieties for depth of flavor. Shiitake mushrooms add a rich umami taste, while button mushrooms provide a mild flavor.
  • Sauce Consistency: Adjust the thickness of the sauce by simmering longer for a thicker consistency or adding more broth or water for a thinner sauce.
  • Enhance Flavor: Experiment with additional ingredients such as star anise, chili flakes, or sesame oil to personalize the dish to your taste preferences.

Variations

  • Vegetarian Option: Make this dish fully vegetarian by omitting oyster sauce or using a vegetarian oyster sauce alternative.
  • Protein Addition: Add other protein sources such as seitan, tempeh, or edamame for a variation in texture and flavor.
  • Spicy Twist: For a spicy kick, add a teaspoon of chili paste or sriracha sauce when sautéing the garlic and ginger.

Conclusion

Braised tofu with mushrooms is a comforting and nutritious dish that highlights the versatility of tofu and the earthy flavors of mushrooms. By following this recipe, you can create a flavorful and satisfying vegetarian meal that is perfect for lunch or dinner. Serve braised tofu with mushrooms over steamed rice or noodles, garnished with fresh herbs for a touch of brightness. Enjoy the combination of tender tofu, savory mushrooms, and aromatic sauce that will delight your taste buds and provide a wholesome dining experience.

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Written by Robert Zelesky

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