Thursday, February 5, 2009

Smothered Tofu, A la Whole Foods

So, anyone who lives in the Triangle of NC knows that Whole Foods has the market cornered on day-to-day vegetarian eats and shopping.  They also know that all of them have pretty extensive salad and hot bars that people use every day.  But most of all, I think we can agree that the best day is Smothered Tofu day.  

It's mysterious and doesn't adhere to a schedule, but when that mushroomy, gravy-like goodness comes out, it's divine.  It's also divinely expensive.  At 7.99 a pound, you might find yourself backing off of the cheaply made but delicious gravy in deference to the main star-- fried tofu.

No more!  I've cracked the code, or gotten close at least.

So this week's featured meal: Smothered Tofu with Steamed Broccoli.

you will be amazed at how easy this dish is.  It takes less than 20 minutes start to finish at its simplest, and even in more complex iterations, won't take you more than an hour (not including 24-hour advance forethought!)

You need:
1 block Firm Tofu - Pressed (If you are looking for a texture a little bit like stewed lamb, try freezing your tofu in cubes overnight)
4-8 oz mushrooms (how much do you like mushrooms?)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 yellow onion
1/4-1/3 C soy sauce
2-4 Tbsp Brown Rice flour

First things first-- Heat your olive oil in a generous sized pan over medium heat while you chop your onion.  I've discovered that a rough cut actually makse a more texturally pleasing meal, but experiment on your own.  Once you get the onions in, cover the pan and let them cook/start to carmelize while you get your mushrooms prepped.  The onions can sit there for probably4-6 minutes.  Keep an eye on them though!

You can toss the mushrooms in whenever, but my best successes have been tossing them in just before the tofu.  If you want to get *really* fancy, you can pan fry your tofu a little before you add it in.  If you're lazy and hungry like me, just pop it in by itself.  

You'll have to watch once you've added everything because your pan will be pretty full until those mushrooms cook down.  You can add more oil, but I usually just toss in some water to encourage the mushrooms and tofu to cook quicker and absorb some of the sweetness from the onions.  Once your mushrooms are well cooked, add in some soy 
sauce, stir well, then stir in 2 tbsp brown rice flour.  Yes, I know that making a roux like this is a terrible faux pas.  I don't care.  It works just fine.  Add water if you need more liquid (always better to have too much than not enough!).  Once it takes on a gelatinous, chinese-brown sauce type consistency, remove from heat, frame with fresh (or frozen, I don't hate!) steamed veggies and SERVE.  Yay.  The gravy from the mushroom sauce also tastes delicious with pretty much anything that comes out of the ground.