Thursday, March 26, 2009
Mushroom Tofu Stroganoff
Legend has it that stroganoff was invented for a culinary competition held in Saint Petersburg during 1890's. An inventive chef -- who happened to be employed as a cook for the very rich, very famous Count Pavel Alexandrovich Stroganov-- combined the classic flavors of beef, mushrooms and sour cream, and took home the first prize.
Count Stroganov would probably be appalled at our liberal adaptation of this recipe for less carnivorous tastes. But, let's ignore that. Shall we? This recipe is just as delicious as the original... with quite a bit less saturated fat. It's a perfect addition to add to your repertoire of meatless meals. It can be easily thrown together on a weeknight. AND, if you'd prefer a vegan option, this recipe can be easily adapted.
You should begin with the loveliest mushrooms you can find. These are the backbone of the vegetarian version of this dish. So, choose wisely. I like the meaty flavor of baby portabella/cremini mushrooms. For a fancier, more company-worthy dish, try a melange of wild mushrooms. You won't be sorry.
You'll also want to pick up a package of the firmest tofu you can find. I recommend a nigari-style (or baked) organic tofu, which will give you the firmest texture and best flavor. Once you've pulled the tofu out of its package, you'll want to drain it, slice it, and press it to remove as much water as possible. I like to wrap mine in layers of flour sack towels and place it under a few ceramic plates for 15-20 minutes.
When the tofu has been adequately drained, you'll want to dice it into cubes. I like mine to be bite-sized so that they're easy to manage in the frying pan.
Now heat up a bit of your butter or oil, and fry the tofu. You'll want to get the cubes brown on all sides, which means cooking them over a fairly high heat (and being a bit patient... good things take time). When you take these out of the pan to drain, you'll want to snitch one or two for nibbling. These make a fantastic snack, especially when paired with a dipping sauce for a bit of flavor (try bbq sauce... or a bit of wasabi mayo). Don't eat too many, of course, or you'll be too full for dinner... and you won't have any tofu for the stroganoff!!
After prepping the tofu, you'll work on sauteeing up some onions and garlic. You'll caramelize all of those delicious mushrooms, adding layers of delicious flavor to the finished dish. And then you'll add dill, a pinch of cayenne pepper, some shoyu soy sauce, and the fried tofu. Stir well to combine, cover, and set the whole, delicious mess aside until your pasta is cooked.
When your pasta is ready, add your sour cream. Stir well, and toss with the pasta.
When everything comes together, you'll have a hearty, heady dish redolent with mushrooms, dill, onion, and garlic. If you've done your job, your tofu will be firm and toothy, your caramelized mushrooms will be rich and meaty, and your kitchen will smell as if you spent the whole day simmering up something wonderful.
Seriously, folks, my mouth is watering just thinking about this.
I'm pretty sure you'll want to try it out for yourselves.
Mushroom Tofu Stroganoff
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