Tofu Steak with Sautéed Enoki Mushrooms
Shortly after I arrived in Japan I met my new best friend turned roommate, Shawn.
At that time, just after university, we were each earning between five and six thousand USD per month teaching English. We had a four-bedroom apartment in Sapporo, Roller Blades, free-time and lots of greenery — life was good. It was spring, hormones were high and Shawn was crushing on a pretty girl with waist length raven hair. The weight pulled her head back so she walked deliberately, with total control. She agreed to a dinner date at our place if her friend, Wakana, could come along as my date. Well, I’m gay. I’m also a good friend, so for Shawn’s labido on said night I put on my best Abercrombie and greeted my date, who was sporting bobbed hair and a black crop top, with as much interest as I could feign.
Long story short, I’m 6′ 4″ (192cm), muscular, and masculine and my date had very different ideas about personal boundaries. And her eyes? I felt violated.
While I went to change into something more baggy, they started cooking for us — tofu steaks. They unwrapped firm tofu, wrapped them in dish towels and put a weight on them. After a few minutes they dredged them in flour and fried them in a bit of oil until they turned brown, then added enoki mushrooms and some soy sauce and mirin. Served with brown rice, Japanese pickles and Chawamushi it was light, yet filling, well balanced and delicious.
In case you’re wondering, that night Shawn was friend zoned, his date got drunk, Wakana was completely confused, and I learned a new recipe.
Tofu is categorized by texture from smooth and silky to course and textured, for this recipe either will work; however, thicker textures have a fuller mouth feel. Take the tofu from it’s container and wrap it in something absorbent, such as a hand towel or cheese cloth. Place a weight on top to press out the extra moisture. The longer you leave the weight on, the more dense, but misshapen, the tofu.
I wrap my tofu when I leave for work and it’s ready for a light dinner.
If you would like a firm crust you can dip in flour and add to a well oiled pan, or flour-less you can add the tofu to a lightly oiled skillet or oil free non-stick skillet. Fry one one side for 3 – 5 minutes, or until it browns. Flip it over and brown the other side. At this point you can add a combination of the big three seasonings and evaporate them off, or plate the tofu. I prefer to sauté the mushrooms with seasoning, so I plate. Add your mushrooms to the pan and sauté until the liquid comes out and they begin to wilt, 3 – 5 minutes depending on the mushroom. Add the seasoning to steam the mushrooms in the pan, evaporating most of the liquid seasonings and place on top of the tofu. Serve hot.
You can prepare the tofu and mushrooms in the same pan at the same time. When the tofu has browned on one side, flip it and add the mushrooms. When the tofu is brown on the other side, plate it and add the seasoning to the mushrooms and cook one minute more. Serve over the tofu so the seasoning flavors the tofu.
Tofu Steak with Sautéed Mushrooms
tier one (you must use)
- 1 or 2 blocks tofu (soft or firm depends on your preference)
- 1 pack, or 1/2 cup enoki mushrooms (shitake and white button also work well, but cooking times are a bit longer)
- Up to 1 tablespoon soy sauce (to taste)
- Up to 1 teaspoon mirin (to taste)
tier two (suggested)
- Oil for frying
- Flour for dredging the tofu
Method: Wrap tofu in cheesecloth or tea towel and place weight on top for at least 30 minutes. Remove, dredge with flour and fry in small amount of hot oil until brown on one side. Flip and brown on other side. Plate.
Add mushrooms to the same pan with a few drops of oil and cook string constantly until the water begins to come out. At that point add the mirin and soy sauce and cook one minute more until most of the liquid evaporates. Pour over tofu. Serve.
Goes well with Daikon Steak.