Tag Archives: tofu

Sparassis stir fry!

Living in so cal again has been wonderful except for one main thing missing from my life – mushrooms!! It’s been pretty tough for me living in a place without a distinct mushroom season, so I planned a destination mushroom hunting trip to Portland this last week to get my mushroom fix :) It was so fun to tromp around through the woods in the beautiful and wet conifer forests of the Pacific Northwest. Unfortunately I missed out on finding any porcinis or chanterelles or matsutakes, but I did happen upon a relatively rare and special find Sparasiss radicata, commonly known as the cauliflower mushroom.

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Sparassis radiata, the cauliflower mushroom

Sparassis radicata  is a wood decay fungus that tends to be found on the ground under dead conifers. I have only found one other Sparassis in my life and they are very tasty and hearty so I was super excited to find it again! It was about 35 degrees F, raining, and hailing, so I definitely worked hard for my find, but looking at the huge smile on my face you can tell it was worth it :)

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It was worth it to trek through the rain and hail to find this mushroom!

It was dark and rainy in the understory, which made it difficult to get a good photo, but you can tell that I’m super happy to finally have a giant edible mushroom in my hand.

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Cold and wet, but smiling huge with my giant Sparassis radicata mushroom bounty :)

The last time I found one of these was back in in 2013 in Mendocino, CA. I typically think of it as a mushroom that you need a relatively old growth forest to find, so it is not a mushroom you find very often. Again, you can see the huge smile the Sparassis puts on my face :)

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2013 -Last time I found a Sparassis – this mushroom sure knows how to put a smile on my face!

Sparassis has a very unique texture and makes a great replacement for egg noodles in a stir fry. Since my friend Zoie who we are staying with is vegan we decided to make a vegan vegetable and tofu stir fry with Sparassis as the base. Sparassis takes a while to clean since it grows on the ground and can accumulate a ton of conifer needles in all of its crevasses. I started by washing the Sparassis very well in the sink and roughly chopping it and storing it in a bowl.

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Sparassis washed and chopped and ready to be cooked!

We first washed and chopped up all of the ingredients for the stir fry. We chose onions, garlic, ginger, carrots, red pepper, broccoli, and tofu, but you can be as creative and flexible as you would like with your stir fry ingredients! Once everything was chopped and ready to go, we heated the pan, added olive oil, then placed the roughly chopped onions and the chopped Sparassis to the pan.

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Chopped onions and Sparassis mushroom sautéeing in pan

I will warn you this is not a quick stir fry. It takes a while for the mushroom to get rid of all of its water and fully cook. The pan will start filling with water from the mushroom, and you will have to be patient while it evaporates so the mushroom can start to crisp up. The mushroom will have a fairly crunchy texture but it lends a nice meatiness to the dish. After 10-15 minutes, we added a ton of chopped garlic and fresh ginger, which infused into the mushroom and added a lot of flavor. Next, we added chopped broccoli.

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Onions, garlic, ginger, Sparassis, and broccoli sautéing in pan

Of course you can add any vegetable you want to your stir fry. We like lots of vegetables and color so we added red peppers next after the broccoli.

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Don’t the red peppers at a nice fresh pop of color?

After the broccoli and red pepper cooked for ~10 minutes, we added thinly slivered carrots to the pan. Isn’t the stir fry beautifully colorful? We also had a separate pan for the tofu, which we stir fried in olive oil in its own pan to get a crispier outside.

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In the meanwhile, Zoie whipped up a delicious sauce to add to the stir fry. We whisked together soy sauce, rice vinegar, sesame oil, a little bit of sugar, and a bit of sriracha and chile. Again, this dish is flexible so you can mix any flavors you like for this sauce. The world is your oyster mushroom :)  We added the sauce and let the flavors meld for another few minutes. Finally, we were ready to serve!

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We were all super enthusiastic and delighted at how well this dish came out. It was absolutely delicious! If you ever are lucky enough to come across as Sparassis at the farmer’s market or in the woods, go ahead and stir fry it up! Thanks Roo, Zoie, Kim, and Heather for joining me on an awesome Oregon mushroom hunting adventure :)

Barbecued maitake and mee goreng

Maitake frondosa, known to some as ‘hen of the woods’ is a saprotropic fungus that makes a living by eating decaying wood.   While that may not sound incredibly appetizing, this ecology makes them fairly easy to cultivate and to produce reliably for consumption. This is lucky for me since they are not native to California and I can’t easily forage for them!  Since they are not native California mushrooms, I had never cooked these beautiful and intriguing mushrooms before, and I did not quite know what to do with them. Luckily, Justin Reyes from Gourmet Mushrooms, Inc suggested a delicious marinade inspired by this youtube video from chef Louisa Safia of LucidFood, which turned out to be quite the crowd pleaser. It was so popular in fact, that my friends Meera and Judy asked me for the recipe immediately after the dinner, and Meera went home and tried it out the next day!

Maitake Frondosa

Maitake Frondosa or ‘hen of the woods’

The first step is to make the marinade the night before you want to cook the mushrooms and let them soak it up overnight in the fridge.  Unfortunately, I only realized this last minute and found myself mixing up the marinade at midnight the evening before I cooked these mushrooms, but hopefully you can be smarter and plan ahead – trust me, this marinade is worth it!

Marinated maitake

Marinated maitake

Here are the ingredients for the marinade:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 2 scallions, green and white parts
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp white wine
  • Salt and fresh ground pepper
  • 3 lbs Maitake Frondosa

Blend the olive oil, whole pieces of scallion whites, whole garlic cloves, honey, 2 Tbsp wine, salt and fresh ground black pepper in blender. My handy dandy immersion blender worked great for this :) Then you either need to find a giant zip lock bag or a bowl and pour the sauce over the mushrooms and let them soak it up in the fridge over night. Save half a cup of the marinade for the reduction sauce the next day. While this recipe suggest barbecuing the mushrooms or using a cast iron skillet, I unfortunately had neither so I just used a big pan to saute them up. Don’t worry -they still tasted great! Just make sure to leave them alone and let them cook for a really long time until they start to get brown and crispy. While they are cooking, you can make the reduction sauce by adding 3 Tbsp of white wine to the reserved 1/2 cup of marinade and reducing it to a simmer after you’ve brought it to a boil. When the mushrooms are nice and crispy you can spread the reduction sauce on them and it tastes so good!

Barbecued maitake

Barbequed maitake

I decided that this meaty mushroom  would make a great accompaniment to the vegetarian mee goreng from Plenty, which I featured in this post.  Mee goreng is a Malaysian street food that is super healthy and super simple, and takes only a few minutes to stir fry up after all the vegetables have been chopped and prepared.

Mee goreng

Mee goreng

Ottolenghi suggests serving the mee goreng with shredded lettuce, fried shallots, lemon wedges, and a Malaysian spicy chili sauce called sambal oelek. Fortunately I was able to find sambal oelek  at Berkeley bowl, but it looks like it is super easy to buy online!

Mee goreng with lettuce, lemon wedges, sambal oelek, and fried shallots

Mee goreng with lettuce, lemon wedges, Sambal oelek, and fried shallots

Here is my plate all loaded up with mee goreng:

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Here is the mee goreng served as suggested with the shredded lettuce, lemon wedges, fried shallots, and sambal oelek on top:

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It went really well with the maitake mushrooms and my friends Judy and Meera gratefully gobbled it up. They were both super fun to cook for and claimed that these dishes induced euphoria and it was hands down one of the best meals they’d eaten that year.  This meal was probably the easiest and simplest of my three Gourmet Mushrooms Inc. feasts. It was also probably the most delectable! Don’t you just love when that happens?

Mee goreng with bbqed maitake

Mee goreng with BBQed maitake

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad and Brussels sprouts and tofu

So for the last Saturday of January I prepared the broccolini and sweet sesame salad from p. 94 of Plenty and also featured online here, and the brussels sprouts and tofu dish from p. 105 of Plenty and featured here.  I’ve been totally obsessed with Yotam Ottolenghi’s book Plenty and these two asian inspired meals captured my attention. After cooking and eating them I realized that everything I had made was vegan, except some might want to swap agave for the honey in the broccolini sauce. So here you go, a healthy, delicious, and an unintentionally vegan feast :)

Me showing off the unintentionally vegan feast

Me showing off the unintentionally vegan feast

As any reader of Plenty will know, some of the ingredients are seriously difficult to source. There’s no quick dash to the grocery store when it comes to these recipes.  I looked all over and let me tell you, as far as I’m concerned, nigella seeds don’t exist in grocery stores.  I even looked up alternative names on  Wikipedia such as black caraway, and Roman coriander, but the Safeway spice guy was at a loss. It appears that the internet is the way for these supposedly delectable seeds (I wouldn’t know quite yet) and here is a nice cheap version of the seeds.

Me checking in with Ottolenghi to make sure I'm getting everything right!

Me checking in with Ottolenghi to make sure I’m getting everything right!

So the first step of the broccolini and sweet sesame salad is to make the sauce, which involves whisking together tahini paste (I bought this from the Middle eastern store down on San Pablo and University but I’m sure regular grocery stores have it too), water, a garlic clove, tamari soy sauce (not sure exactly why tamari soy sauce is specified here, but I took his word for it and bought it), honey (substitute agave if you are vegan), cider vinegar, and salt. Next, you have to blanche the vegetables. So as you’ve probably figured out by now by my tales of bumbling around the kitchen, I’m a total novice at this.  I’m sure many more could manage to blanche broccolini, grab it out of bowling water and rinse it off and boil the snow peas and green beans in the same water more adeptly than I, but basically I used a plastic tong to grab the vegetables out of the boiling water and dumped them into a colander in the sink.  I think I need to buy one of those scoopable colanders if I’m going to keep up with this! So basically you blanch the vegetables then rinse and dry them, add some oil and sesame seeds, and then mix in the sauce, and voila, delicious hearty salad! It’s really a very tasty and hearty salad and you can see I had a lot of fun making it despite the difficulties blanching the vegetables :)

Mixing in the tahini and sweet sesame sauce with the broccolini, green beans, and snow peas

Mixing in the tahini and sweet sesame sauce with the broccolini, green beans, and snow peas

And here is the completed dish!

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad

Next I put some white rice in my handy rice cooker, and started onto the brussels sprouts and tofu dish. I must say, this is one of the most delicious ways I’ve ever had tofu or brussels sprouts before. Bravo, Ottolenghi! This dish is pretty easy too. I had never bothered to marinate and sear tofu in this way before (usually I just throw it into a stir fry and add teriyaki sauce or soy vay) but the marinade on this dish is so good. It definitely takes an investment into buying a lot of asian sauces (see below), but hopefully I will find a use for my giant bottle of sweet chilli sauce! I’d actually never used sunflower or peanut oils before so I had to buy those for this dish as well, but less than a month later and I’m already almost out of my sunflower oil so it’s definitely a useful oil to have on hand!

Ingredients for brussels sprouts and tofu dish

Ingredients for brussels sprouts and tofu dish

You have to whisk together 2tbsp of sweet chilli sauce (I bought this at Safeway in a ginormous bottle for under $3), 1.5 tbsp soy sauce, 2 tbsp sesame oil (this stuff is really really good, definitely worth buying), 1 tsp rice vinegar, and 1 tbsp maple syrup.  I learned the importance of real maple syrup while living on a farm in Vermont in high school (it takes 40 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup! Tapping trees is hard! Real maple syrup is wayyyy better than the fake stuff!) so I always happen to have real maple syrup on hand. So whisk together the ingredients for the marinade, place the tofu in it, and set aside.

Making the brussels sprouts and tofu dish

Sauteeing shiitake mushrooms, green onions, and chile

This dish actually called for mushrooms, so of course I loved that :) After sauteeing the brussels sprouts in a ton of sunflower oil and getting them super crispy in one dish, I had to chop up onion, a red chile, and mushrooms to saute in a different pan. I was super nervous chopping up the red chile so I was a nerd and put plastic bags on my hand. I’ve heard enough horror stories of friends cutting chiles with their bare hands and then burning their eyes while taking out their contacts to know to be careful!  Next, add the tofu to the pan and let it caramelize.

Brussels sprouts with tofu and mushrooms

Brussels sprouts with tofu and mushrooms

These dishes complemented each other really well and resulted in a hearty, substantial, tasty, healthy, vegetarian dish. It was the kind of food that just made you feel healthy and good about yourself eating it!

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad, brussels sprouts and tofu, and white rice vegetarian meal

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad, brussels sprouts and tofu, and white rice vegetarian meal