Tofu? You eat that stuff?

A few friends of mine have been talking about ways to cook tofu. Being the “over-educated hillbilly” that I am, that compressed soy curd called tofu isn’t something that you would expect to see in my pantry. However, having worked for a number of years with folks from Japan and China + a few years of graduate school with people who regularly eat this stuff, I’ve tried fixing it a few different ways.

One recipe that I really like is a variation of one found in Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything cookbook called “Braised Tofu with Eggplant and Shitakes”:

Braised Tofu with Eggplant and Shiitake Mushrooms

From Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything

1 lb tofu
1/4 cup peanut oil or corn oil
1 c. shiitake mushrooms (soaked and drained)
Salt & pepper, to taste
1 TB garlic, minced
1 TB ginger, minced
1.5 lbs eggplant
1 TB siracha chille sauce
0.5 c. water
2 TB soy sauce
1 TB sesame oil
1 TB toasted sesame seeds
2 TB chopped green onions
  • Drain tofu and cut in half lengthwise. Place in-between four sheets of paper towels and then weight down the tofu (no more than 2 lbs weight). Let set for a minimum of 30 minutes but as long as possible.
  • Trim eggplant, cut into cubes and place in colander or strainers. Sprinkle liberally with salt and let eggplant drain for 30 minutes. Rinse and then pat dry.
  • Saute shiitakes w/ half of oil in deep skillet or wok w/ salt and peper until mushrooms are crisp (about 5 to 10 minutes). Remove to plate.
  • Add remaining oil and then sauté garlic and ginger for about a minute. Then add eggplant and sauté for until it browns. Add chile sauce and water and cook until eggplant is tender; add more water if needed.
  • Add tofu and soy sauce. Cook until tofu is heated. Add reserved mushrooms and turn off heat. Add sesame oil. Garish w/ sesame seeds and chopped green onions

What’s nice about this recipe is that you can adjust it quite easily if you have meat eaters in the house by replacing the mushrooms with chicken or shrimp (or in addition to the shiitakes). Another variation is to replace both the eggplant and mushrooms with ground pork. Good, quick, and easy way to do something far better than any Chinese takeout you get buy.