Fried Tofu with Mushroom Gravy
- SERVINGS: 4
Mushrooms marry well with tofu (which is cooked until crisp on the outside but still soft in the center), and oyster sauce provides a mellow base to this dish. Serve it as part of a vegetarian meal with sautéed greens and steamed medium-grain rice.
- 1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
- 12 ounces fresh shiitake mushrooms, stems discarded and caps thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced
- 1 small onion, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons dry white wine
- 1/4 cup oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon Asian sesame oil
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2 cups vegetable oil, for frying
- 1 1/2 pounds soft tofu, cut crosswise into 12 slices
- In a large nonreactive skillet, heat 1 tablespoon of the peanut oil over high heat. Add the mushrooms in an even layer and cook, turning once, until browned, about 3 minutes on each side. Add 1 tablespoon of the soy sauce, toss to coat and cook for 2 minutes longer. Transfer the mushrooms to a plate.
- Reduce the heat to low and add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon peanut oil to the skillet. Add the garlic slices in an even layer and cook until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to moderate, add the onion and cook, stirring, until wilted, about 3 minutes.
- Add the white wine and scrape the bottom of the pan to loosen the browned bits. Add the oyster sauce and the remaining 1 tablespoon soy sauce and bring to a simmer.
- Meanwhile, dissolve the cornstarch in 1 cup of water and stir it into the sauce in the skillet. Return the mushrooms to the skillet and simmer the sauce until thickened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the sesame oil and season with pepper. Remove from the heat.
- In a medium saucepan, heat the vegetable oil over moderately high heat until it registers 360° on a deep-fry thermometer. Gently pat the tofu dry with paper towels and carefully lower 4 slices into the hot oil. Stand back—the oil may spatter. Fry the tofu until golden brown, gently scraping it off the bottom of the pan with a slotted spatula if it seems to be sticking, about 4 minutes. Using the spatula, transfer the tofu to a baking sheet. Pat it with paper towels to remove excess oil, and keep warm in a low oven. Repeat the procedure with the remaining tofu slices.
- Rewarm the mushroom gravy over moderately high heat, stirring. Pour the gravy onto a platter, arrange the tofu slices on top and serve at once.
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