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Steamed Tofu and Trumpet Mushrooms with Ginger, Scallion and Soy For A Virtuous New Year

Like the classic dish of Chinese steamed whole fish — but without the fish.

Heaven knows that after the hardships of the past two years, we deserved to indulge heartily during the holidays.

But after one too many cookies, seconds of pie, and slabs of meat that made plates buckle, we’re feeling it.

Is it any wonder that we now crave something lighter and cleaner tasting?

“Steamed Tofu with Trumpet Mushrooms with Ginger, Scallion and Soy” fills the bill — and appetite — beautifully.

The recipe is from “To Asia, With Love: Everyday Asian Recipes and Stories From the Heart” (Prestel), one of my favorite cookbooks of 2021. It’s by Hetty McKinnon, the gifted food writer and Aussie transplant who now makes her home in Brooklyn.

I may be an omnivore and my husband, aka Meat Boy, an avowed carnivore, but the recipes in this vegetarian cookbook never cease to satisfy. Indeed, neither of us ever feels wanting, despite the meat-free dishes.

“Steamed Tofu with Trumpet Mushrooms with Ginger, Scallion and Soy” is ready in a blink of an eye. In fact, it’s so easy that you’ll practically be able to make it from memory again the next time.

Imagine that Chinese banquet-type platter of steamed whole fish, scattered with green onions and slivers of ginger, that gets doused with sizzling oil overtop.

That is exactly what this dish is like — except it’s vegan. Slices of firm tofu and mushrooms stand in for the fish, which get steamed for all of 5 minutes. Cilantro, green onions and ginger get scattered over, then the hot oil is drizzled over.

Use fresh shiitakes, oyster, or meaty trumpet mushrooms, as I did. Or even a mix of all three.

This dish is fragrant and homey, with a purity of flavors. And it’s every bit as delicious as the fish version.

Plus, it doesn’t require a special trip to the store for a fresh whole fish. In fact, it’s easier and quicker to make, especially if you regularly keep tubs of tofu handy in your fridge.

Trumpet mushrooms are especially nice in this dish because they are sizeable and possess a lovely nutty-earthy flavor.

Steamed Tofu and Trumpet Mushrooms with Ginger, Scallion and Soy

(Serves 4 with rice)

14 ounces firm tofu, cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices

2 to 3 fresh shiitake, oyster or trumpet mushrooms (about 3 ounces), sliced

2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

1 tablespoon shaoxing rice wine

1-inch piece of ginger, peeled and julienned

1 scallion, julienned

Small handful of cilantro laves

3 tablespoons vegetable or other neutral oil

Place a steamer basket or trivet in a wok or large saucepan, then pour in some hot water. Make sure the water does not touch the bottom of the steamer or trivet. Bring the water to the boil over high heat.

Lay the tofu slices in a single layer on a heatproof plate (make sure it fits into the steamer or on top of the trivet) and top with the mushrooms. Place the plate in the steamer or on the trivet, then cover and steam for about 5 minutes, or until the tofu is hot and the mushrooms are cooked. Carefully pour off some (but not all) of the liquid at the bottom of the plate.

While the tofu is steaming, stir together the tamari or soy sauce, shaoxing rice wine and 1 tablespoon of water. Set aside.

When the tofu and mushrooms are ready, very carefully remove the plate from the steamer or trivet. lay the ginger, scallion and cilantro on top of the mushrooms.

Heat the oil in a small saucepan over high heat until it is hot but not smoking. Immediately remove the oil from the heat and very carefully (stand back as it will spit) pour it over the ginger, scallion and cilantro. Drizze over the tamari or soy sauce mixture and serve with rice.

Note: Eggplant can be substituted for the tofu, if you like. The shaoxing wine can be omitted for gluten-free.

From “To Asia, With Love” by Hetty McKinnon

More Fabulous Recipes From Hetty McKinnon to Try: Flourless Soy Sauce Brownies

And: Miso Brown Butter and Crispy Sage Pasta