Home-Style Tofu with Shiitake Mushrooms

by on August 18, 2007
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Homestyle Tofu with Shiitake Mushrooms and Black Bean Sauce

I don’t often cook other people’s recipes, at least not exactly as written. I like to get inspiration from cookbooks and other people’s blogs and then go off and do my own thing, incorporating the techniques that have worked well for me in the past. But when I saw the recipe for Peng’s Home-Style Bean Curd on Barbara Fisher’s Tigers and Strawberries, I just knew I had to make it exactly—well, almost—as written.

Barbara is a blogger and cook who inspires confidence; she has attended culinary school, worked in restaurants, and taught cooking classes. Her particular love and specialty is Chinese cooking, and she writes about it in clear, evocative language that somehow summons up the taste of the food as she guides you through the steps in preparing it. Reading the recipe for Home-Style Bean Curd, I could imagine exactly how it would taste, full of the pungency and saltiness of fermented black beans.

And I wasn’t disappointed. One bite of this dish transported me back to a little Chinese restaurant back in South Carolina that D and I loved, instantly conjuring up its dark, candle-lit booths and strange door chime that chirped “Thanks for coming” whenever the door opened. From the outside, it looked like nothing special, one Asian restaurant among the many that graced the strip malls of that neighborhood, but once inside, visitors were greeted with tantalizing aromas and a diverse menu that included a whole host of vegetarian dishes. It’s amazing how many memories a taste can bring back; I didn’t realize how much I missed that place until this tofu dish reminded me.

Of course I made a few changes to the recipe, but Barbara had already suggested the main one, that vegetarians replace the pork with dried shiitake mushrooms. And though I trust Barbara when she asserts that it’s best with deep-fried tofu, I hope you’ll trust me when I say that baked tofu worked wonderfully for me. (I’m sorry, Barbara; I just can’t bring myself to fry anything!) Finally, I didn’t have fresh red chiles, so I substituted dried red pepper flakes (heresy, I’m sure). Next time I make this—which will be soon because I’ve been craving it ever since we ate it—I’ll make sure I have fresh peppers on-hand. Thanks, Barbara, for a wonderful dish!

Home Style Tofu with Shiitake Mushrooms

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Susan Voisin August 18, 2009 at 11:53 am

Here are the older comments that were lost when the blog was moved:

Stevie said…

Your food looks absolutely WONDERFUL! You are definitely something to aspire to!
6:20 PM, August 18, 2007

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Barbara said…

I am glad you liked this recipe enough to try it at home, Susan. It is a favorite, and now that it is hot outside, I have been making the vegan version with the mushrooms myself. (Great photos, btw!)

As for using chile flakes–they work fine. If you can get Tien Tsin chiles from Penzey’s they have an authentic Sichuan flavor and heat that I think you will like. You can just crumble them up into flakes, or use them whole or cut up. Great stuff.

Oh, and I loved the Korean baby eggplant recipe, too!
12:02 AM, August 19, 2007

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Cassie said…

Lovely images and recipe, Susan! Will be adding this to my “recipes to try” list!
8:38 AM, August 19, 2007

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Dr. Melissa West, Lifestyle Coach said…

Wow! This looks delish! I am definitely going to bookmark this recipe to try. Do you think you could use black bean sauce in place of the fermented black beans? (I’ve not seen these in my wanders)
7:28 PM, August 19, 2007
SusanV said…

Melissa, you can use black bean sauce, but you may need to adjust the amount. The big difference is that the sauce has added flavors so the dish won’t taste exactly the same as with the beans themselves.
10:07 PM, August 19, 2007

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Padma said…

its a treat for your eyes…I love chinese food!
8:09 AM, August 20, 2007

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Vegan_Noodle said…

What a beautiful looking dish!!
9:19 AM, August 20, 2007

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Lena said…

Where exactly does one find fermented black beans? Can’t say that I’ve ever seen them, either!
10:21 AM, August 22, 2007

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SusanV said…

Lena, you have to go to an Asian grocery store to find them. I can usually find black bean paste in the supermarket, but for just the beans I have to go to an Asian market.
10:26 AM, August 22, 2007

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Mandira said…

I have to restock my black bean sauce to make this… it looks fantastic!
10:44 AM, August 22, 2007

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Judy said…

Just wanted to pop in and say that I love the new layout. And from your pic, it seems as though you and E look quite alike.
11:03 AM, August 22, 2007

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Karina Allrich said…

Susan – I LOVE your new design. It’s fresh and beautiful! Congrats. :) (And you look lovely!)
3:28 PM, August 22, 2007

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Cassie Young said…

I’ve already commented here, Susan, but wanted to send another little note to let you know that I, too, am really liking FFVK’s new look! Nice work! :)
7:04 PM, August 22, 2007

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aTxVegn said…

Wow, Susan, this new layout is great! I appreciate all the work you put into your blog.
7:31 PM, August 22, 2007

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SusanV said…

Thanks so much, everybody! I’ve been so absorbed in working on the blog design that I haven’t been cooking much for the past few days. Now that all the bugs are out of the template redesign (knock on wood), I’ll have more time to spend in the kitchen.
7:57 PM, August 22, 2007

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Vegan_Noodle said…

I really like the new design!! Your title photo is beautiful and it’s so nice to put a face to all these amazing recipes!!
9:17 AM, August 23, 2007

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katie said…

i made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious! (wonderfully, incredibly delicious!)

i made three small changes to the recipe: i used black bean sauce, because i had it on hand and wanted to avoid a trip to the store; i used more pepper than called for, as i wanted more heat than it had (although my red pepper flakes are getting a bit past their prime, which is probably the reason); and i used more bell pepper than called for, because i’m up to my ears in them right now. honestly, though, i think it could take even more veggies if one wanted ‘em; they would go very well with the sauce and tofu, and make it an even healthier meal.

verdict: awesome. another great recipe! (my significant other’s reaction was–and i quote–”A++! Would request again!… There are leftovers, right?” which, i take it, means he liked it.)
8:27 PM, August 26, 2007

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Alandra said…

Susan, this is a must-try! Yesterday when I visited our very large oriental market in Kansas City, I had trouble locating the fermented black beans. How does the label look or what do I look for? Limited English there is sometimes a challenge. I get almost all of my favorite recipes from your site–thank you so much for inspiring and feeding your cheering crowds of fans.
9:38 AM, November 07, 2007

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SusanV said…

Alandra, here’s a link to a bag of fermented black beans thatyou might find in an Asian market. You can also find them in jars, with oil and some other ingredients, but the kind in the bag are in their pure state. I hope you’ll be able to find them (perhaps you could print out the photo and take it with you?) They’re really worth the trouble.
4:25 PM, November 07, 2007

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Anonymous said…

Hey, I would just like to also say that this recipe is amazing! I couldn’t find the fermented black beans, so I used Whole Foods 365 organic spicy black beans. Probably not as flavorful as the original recipe would have been, but still really delicious. I’ll definitely make this recipe again.
6:02 PM, November 12, 2007

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Melanie said…

If you’re making this recipe you absolutely MUST find the fermented black beans. Go to any Asian market and ask, they’ll help you. It adds such an amazing flavor, I think I’ve made this two times in the past month since I found the recipe. Tonight might be the third time…… Yum!
3:13 PM, July 08, 2008

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Refuse-Resist said…

My boy and I made this recipe on Friday night but without the black beans…it was absolutely delicious!
This is my absolute favourite blog and congrats on your third wonderful year – yay for Susan!!!
3:17 PM, January 12, 2009

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Lindsay said…

I`ve made this a few times already for my omni-parents, my half-veg sister and of course myself, and I just have to say that each time we had it was because my meat-eating mother requested it above all other recipes i`ve made. On top of that, she had only tried tofu a couple of times (and didn`t like it) before I started going vegan a few months ago. This recipe is definitely a keeper! (:

-Lindsay

Reply

2 caterina May 3, 2010 at 4:51 am

this looks really delicious! I would like to make it but I don’t have fermented black beans: could I use red miso insted? If so, how much do you suggest using?

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3 SusanV May 3, 2010 at 8:02 am

The flavor of red miso is different than fermented black beans, but it could be tasty. I would just start off with a little–a teaspoon or two–added near the end and add more to taste. You can always add more but you can’t add less!

Reply

4 Andrew November 2, 2010 at 10:34 pm

I made this two weeks ago and it was amazing! I will definitely make it again — I love the texture and taste the dried shitakes add and the sauce is delicious.

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