Friday, October 01, 2010

Continuing on a theme: Stuffed Tofu

Since our garden exploded with cucumbers, kale, tomatoes, tomatillos, and plums this season, home-grown produce has been predominant in my cooking.  If you've been reading, you'll know that it started with fresh salads where we could taste every squirt of tomatoey freshness a couple of months back.  Then the tomatoes started getting sauced.  Then roasted.  Then roasted and sauced.  Same goes for the rest of the vegetables.  While I was working late one night, Mr. Rose blanched and pitted 30 lbs of plums, then threw them in the freezer where they still await their final fate.  I created a kale chip addiction among the 60 or so attorneys and staff on my floor -- I bring in large batches once a week to feed the addiction (I would not be a very successful crack dealer -- I know I should be charging money for this).  I cannot cook all the vegetables fast enough and I certainly cannot eat them all.  I know.  This is not exactly a tragedy.  But. It's. Just. Too. Much.
Though I resent today's formidable volume of vegetables, I know that I'll miss them in a few months when the garden goes into hibernation. 

Still.  Now that I'm off my grocery shopping moratorium, I'm back at it, making whatever I feel like eating, whenever I feel like it.
It just so happens that I am still on a Chinese food kick from the Mid-Autumn Moon Festival.  It also happens that there was a scrumptious mixture of ground pork, chopped shrimp, and shiitake mushrooms in my fridge (left over from a certain meal of wontons that you'll read about soon).  A splash of oyster sauce, a pound and a half of silken tofu, and a few leaves of napa cabbage would transform the pork-shrimp-shiitake mixture into a totally new meal.
I lined bamboo steamers with a bed of napa cabbage, which would make the bottom of the steamer a slightly softer place on which to set silken tofu.  Then, I carved out cylinders of tofu in which I would stuff the meat-mushroom mixture.  What did I do with the cylinders?  It's a little known fact that dogs love cylinders of silken tofu.
I had enough to space to steam two well-spaced baskets of stuffed tofu.  This little experiment yielded delicately-fragranced entrees for four.  Since the meat mixture was made of left over won ton stuffing, the recipe quantities are approximate.
Stuffed Tofu
2/3 lb ground pork and chopped shrimp (my mixture was about 2/3 pork with 1/3 shrimp, though it could easily be the other way around)
1/2 c minced shiitake caps
1/2 c watercress, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 tsp minced ginger
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1/2 tsp ground white pepper

2 tbsp oyster sauce
1 1/2 lb silken tofu
6-8 napa cabbage leaves

In a medium bowl, mix all ingredients but the last two.  Line the bottoms of two 8" bamboo steamer baskets with the softer green parts of the napa cabbage leaves.  I fed the bottom white parts to my dogs, but they could have gone into the compost just as well.  Cut the silken tofu into 2" x 2" cubes that are 1-1/2" deep.  With a small paring knife, cut 1/2" diameter holes into the top of the 2" x 2" squares, being sure not to cut all the way through the entire 1-1/2" depth.  Take a small amount of the meat mixture and gently stuff it into the hole, allowing a larger quantity of the meat mixture to sit on top of the tofu.  Set the stuffed tofu on the napa cabbage in the bamboo steamer basket.  Stack the baskets and place a lid on the top steamer basket.  Place 1-2" of water in the bottom of a stock pot and place a rack on the bottom so that when you set the baskets in the pot, they will not be sitting in the water.  Place the baskets on the rack and put a lid on the pot.  Bring the water to a vigorous boil and let steam for 20 minutes.

Be careful when removing the steamer basket from the pot.  Use a good pair of tongs to lift the lid.  Then grip the side of steamer baskets, removing the baskets one at a time.

The stuffed tofu is good with extra oyster sauce or hot sauce (yay Sriracha!) on basmati rice.

15 comments:

  1. 30 pounds of plums?? This recipe looks way too good. Great, healthy, and flavorful.

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  2. Those are freaking adorable & probably really delicious. And the fact that you didn't skip on the meat bc of the tofu!

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  3. @Belinda: Yes. 30 lbs of plums. And they're still coming. If you find yourself in Denver...

    @Barrister: Meat and tofu can deliciously co-exist. They're not necessarily mutually exclusive.

    @Abbie: Me too!

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  4. How cool! I've never seen this concept before! And I'm still so envious that you guys are able to grow things. Last week, the bamboo plant on my desk died so growing vegetables is a long ways away :)

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  5. @Azmina: Maybe better luck in SF!

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  6. Stuffed tofu is truly one of my favorite things to eat--but I've never tried to make it at home. Now I know how. Thanks!

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  7. Brilliant! I can't wait until my 5 month old becomes useful.

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  8. Thanks, Char! I've been experimenting with tofu the last few months and it never occured to me to use it as something other than a "toss-in" for a stir-fry...thanks for the fresh outlook.

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  9. @Frank: I'd never made it myself either. This was my first time. Super-easy. Stop depriving yourself and just do it!

    @papawow: It's only a matter of time...

    @Travis: Tofu is a vehicle for anything tasty. Never underestimate the versatility of tofu! P.S. You're looking quite dapper these days.

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  10. Does the silken tofu not fall apart when you try to pick it up after it's been steamed?

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  11. Oh wow, Charmaine....these look delish! I am going to have to try making these! Keep posting your yummy recipes!

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  12. I'll have to get a steamer basket just for this recipe. Wish I garden to enjoy a homegrown bounty like yours...maybe one day. The deer don't make things easy around here. Jealous!

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  13. @Marz: You do need to handle the tofu delicately, but not as delicately as one might assume.

    @Denise and Jean: This is good, easy stuff. Have fun with it!

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  14. How cool! I've never levis takit ja liivit seen this concept before! And I'm still osta levis farkut so envious that levis plus you guys are able to grow things. Last levis leimahtaa week, the bamboo plant on my desk died levis iso ja pitkä so growing vegetables is a long ways away :)

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