December 6th, 2011
I love bold flavors. Something I just have not gotten used to in the three years I’ve lived in New England is how bland New Englanders’ tastes are. I still have not found a restaurant out here that serves food with enough flavor to justify eating out. We are pretty happy because a 5 Guys just opened up near us. I ate there once before, in Ohio, and really liked it. So I was a bit disappointed but unsurprised when I tasted it here and found that they had reduced the seasonings in their recipes for the market out here. It’s still tastier than any other fast food in the area by far, but…still.
So at home we make up for this by eating a LOT of very flavorful, often spicy food. Both of us have a high tolerance to “heat” so we tend to use peppers with wild abandon. So this dish, listed as being “spicy,” to us really isn’t at all. But to you, it might be. What I can guarantee though is that it has a lot of flavors: slightly sweet, deep and rich, garlicky, and a little sour. The sauce is thick and yet still soaks into the rice wonderfully. Even though this is a vegetarian dish, it’s still pretty hearty.
The recipe comes from the Bon Appetit Cookbook, a huge and wonderful source of food that around here would be considered gourmet. Even though its “Meatless Main Course” section is small, I love every recipe in it. This is my favorite.
Note: If you are unable to find fermented black beans in your area, you can replace the garlic and them with Garlic-Black Bean sauce. It’s not a perfect substitute, but it works well enough.
Stir-Fried Tofu and Shiitake Mushrooms in Spicy Black Bean Sauce
Slightly adapted from Bon Appetit Cookbook. Serves 6
- 18 shiitake mushrooms
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 c vegetable stock
- 2 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp sugar
- ¼ tsp coarse sea salt
- 3 tbsp peanut oil
- 1 sm leek, chopped
- 2 tbsp Asian fermented black beans, minced
- 2 tbsp minced, peeled fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp chili-garlic sauce
- ¼ tsp coarsely-cracked black pepper
- 2 12 to 14-oz containers extra firm tofu, drained & cut into ¼-inch cubes
- Cooked sushi rice to serve
- Cut off stems of mushrooms and discard. Thinly slice mushroom caps.
- Dissolve cornstarch in 2 tablespoons vegetable stock in 2-cup measuring cup. Stir in remaining stock, soy sauce, vinegar, sugar, and sea salt.
- Heat oil in heavy large wok or nonstick skillet over high heat until very hot. Add mushrooms and stir-fry until browned, about 3 minutes. Add leek and stir-fry until beginning to brown, about 1 minute. Add black beans, ginger, garlic, chili-garlic sauce, and peppercorns; stir-fry for 30 seconds.
- Stir cornstarch mixture to blend, then stir into vegetable mixture. Add tofu; toss gently to coat with sauce. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until sauce thickens slightly, about 4 minutes.
- Spoon over cooked rice in bowls and serve.