I’m back. If you had forgotten I existed, you would be forgiven. It’s been four long months since I have posted a recipe, and I considered doing away with the whole thing. My work assignment this year has had me more-or-less chained to my bottomless ‘inbox’ of projects, reading assessments and other things to mark. But 2013 is here, and with it a resolution to try to have a slightly better work-life balance, and so I thought I would give this blog one more attempt – and what better way to do so than to start off the year with an easy work night dinner.
Disclaimer: This recipe is Japanese-inspired. I will not call it Japanese because a) I invented it, and b) I am neither Japanese nor am I particularly proficient in Japanese cooking. But it is ‘inspired’ by Japanese cooking because in the one Japanese cookbook I own, I see these flavours repeated almost without exception through many different recipes – a combination of soy, mirin and sake/rice vinegar with sesame oil.
This recipe came about as a result of a promotion on enoki mushrooms at Highland Farms one day. A new eco-friendly mushroom product from Ontario was featured and I picked up the 2-for-5-dollars packages to try – except that I had no idea what to do with them. They sounded Japanese, so I decided to mix them up with some ingredients I had on hand for a healthy, vegan and even gluten free (assuming you use gluten free soy sauce) meal. Voila! A new recipe was born.
This meal literally takes 10 minutes to make, and is the perfect meal for a busy week night dinner. Keeping the flavourings on hand means it’s easy to plan for. You will need a light soy sauce (like Kikkoman), mirin (which is a Japanese sweetener, available in most supermarkets – real mirin is much more expensive and can be purchased at Whole Foods or a Japanese grocer, but if you are only buying it for this recipe, the cheaper grocery-store kind will suffice), sesame oil, rice vinegar and sake (sake is optional. It is alcoholic, so for those of you who do not consume alcoholic products, rest assured – it is not necessary. I have made this several times without sake). Having peeled edamame in your freezer is also a good idea.
When you make this recipe, be sure to have everything washed and cut before you start cooking – the process goes very quickly once the heat is on.
Recipe (for two):
1 package of firm or extra firm tofu
2 tbsp sunflower, canola or avocado oil
1/2 cup frozen, peeled edamame, boiled for 5-8 minutes
approximately 2 cm of fresh ginger, sliced finely (NOT grated)
2 shallots, halved lengthwise and then sliced
1 package of fresh enoki mushrooms, stemmed and washed
1 cup snap peas, stemmed
2 tbsp (approximately) light soy sauce
1 tbsp sake (optional)
2 tbsp (approximately) rice vinegar
1-2 tsp mirin
4 heads of baby bok choy, washed with ends cut off
1/2 tsp sesame oil
Prepare all ingredients as directed. Begin with tofu. Slice your block of tofu lengthwise so you end up with four “steaks.” Lightly salt each side and leave to rest while you heat up the oil in a flat bottomed fry pan. You can adjust the oil as you wish; I try to limit it to two tbsp, but if you want a crispier tofu steak, you may need to add more. When oil is hot, carefully place the steaks in the pan. Allow to fry lightly for a few minutes, and then carefully turn. The tofu steaks are done when they are just golden on both sides (again, this will vary depending on how much oil you choose to use). Remove the steaks and place on a paper towel to drain. Now, with the remaining oil still hot, add the shallots and ginger and toss rapidly for one minute. Add the enoki mushrooms and snap peas and continue to cook for one minute. Add the soy sauce, rice vinegar, mirin and sake (if using). Now, this is where I should qualify something: I use these ingredients ad lib – the amounts are estimates only. As a rough guide, you should use equal portions of soy and rice vinegar, but taste and adjust as necessary. Add bok choy and edamame last, and as soon as bok choy is wilted, remove from heat (be careful not to over-cook the bok choy – it will go soggy like spinach does). Place 1-2 tofu steaks on each plate, cover them with the stir fry, and divide the sesame oil by drizzling 1/4 tsp over each plate. Sometimes – depending on how hungry we are, I make some sticky rice or brown rice to accompany this meal, but most of the time it is filling on its own. Enjoy!