I went into Chinatown late last week and came out with a huge bag bok choy, a few hunks of fresh ginger and about 20 monster-sized fresh shiitake mushrooms—which all cost me around six dollars. I bought all of these things because they looked so fresh and pretty, but I had no real plan about how I was going to use them, and was certain that I wouldn’t be using them all together in one dish. After some thought, I finally decided that stacking the shiitakes between some marinated tofu would work fine and look nice, and ended up pureeing the bok choy with the ginger to give the dish some color as well as a little bite and vibrancy.*
To properly prepare this tofu, you’ll need to get every drop of moisture out of the tofu before placing it into the marinade by thoroughly pressing it. I always press tofu using this method, and would strongly recommend it for this dish as well as any other marinated tofu dish. This method always produces tofu that is succulent, full of flavor and comes out of the pan beautifully textured and seared.
for the marinade and tofu
1 cup vegetable broth
2 TB dark sesame oil
1 TB soy sauce
1 TB raw agave syrup
1 tsp rice vinegar
1 block of firm tofu, pressed using this method
for the puree
4 TB of the leftover prepared marinade (above)
1/2 TB grated fresh ginger
3 cups chopped bok choy
1/4 tsp salt
6 fresh shiitake caps, stems removed
Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a large and shallow glass pyrex. Cut each of the slabs in half to create 8 squares, then place the tofu into the marinade. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Flip the tofu at some point in case the tofu is not totally submerged in the marinade.
When you are ready to make the dish, place 4 TB of the marinade into a skillet over medium-low heat. Add in the ginger and saute for about a minute. Add in the bok choy and salt, and allow to soften for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add to a blender and allow to cool while you prepare your tofu.
In the same pan, add in about 3 TB of the marinade, then add in the tofu. Increase the heat to medium. Allow to saute for about 5 minutes. Check the bottom of the tofu—if it is nicely browned, flip it over, then allow to saute for an additional 5 minutes. Check it occasionally to ensure it does not burn. Transfer to tofu to a separate plate to slightly cool.
Add in 3 TB of the marinade to the pan. Place the shiitake caps into the pan, then cover. Allow to steam for 3-5 minutes, then remove them from the heat.
By now, your puree should be cooled enough to safely puree it. Puree until smooth, adding a little bit more of the marinade if needed. To serve, stack the tofu and shiitake, then drizzle with the bok choy puree.
*This dish also tastes nice as a stir fry. Just prepare everything as described above, then toss the puree with some soba noodles and serve.
Don’t toss out the bok choy stems when you are done—reserve and freeze them for making vegetable stock later.