In college, there was one Thai restaurant nearby, and on a whim I tried an unfamiliar dish very similar to this one from their menu. I have remembered those tastes ever since! Once I decided to make my own version, I had a hard time tracking down a recipe – I learned that this dish is probably of Chinese to Thai immigrant origin, and that while I enjoyed a tofu version at the restaurant, it is most often made with chicken. As I researched looking for an “authentic” recipe, I came to a realization I so often have and try to remember – recipes are always changing, and are influenced by too many countries and histories to count. Sometimes, in my efforts to respect the origins of a dish I do just the opposite – I expect it to be a window into a historic world that doesn’t exist. So! This recipe is a combination of many recipes I found as well as the flavors that I remembered from that wonderful first dinner, and I was very pleased. The meaty flavor of the mushrooms and veggies hold their own very well against the ginger, resulting in a dish that is balanced but packed with flavor. Enjoy!
Serves 2 – 3.
- 1 block extra firm tofu, pressed for at least 1 hour
- 1/2 cup ginger
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp red pepper flake (optional for more spice)
- 1 head broccoli, sliced into large pieces
- 6 – 8 oz shitake mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
- 1/4 cup red bell pepper, sliced thinly
- 1 shallot, peeled and sliced
- 3 green onions, white and tender parts sliced
- 2 tbsp light soy sauce*
- 2 tbsp oyster sauce*
- 1 tsp fish sauce*
- 1/2 tsp palm sugar or white sugar
- 1/4 – 1/3 cup chicken stock, mushroom stock, or water
- Jasmine rice for serving (1 cup uncooked rice)
*Cook’s note: if you are vegetarian, vegan, or gluten free – this dish can still work for you, just pay attention to the sauces! Oyster and fish sauce are products of fermented fish, and can be substituted for with 2 tbsp soy sauce. However, if your diet doesn’t prohibit these, don’t be tempted to omit them – these flavors add additional complexity to a great dish. If you are gluten free – just be careful of the soy sauce that you use! Many contain wheat, look for a tamari sauce (lower sodium soy sauce) that is labeled gluten free. I am most familiar with the Kikkoman gluten free tamari.
After pressing tofu, cut into 1″ – 1/2″ cubes. Oil a baking sheet, and bake the tofu on the baking sheet in a toaster oven or oven heated to 350 degrees F while you cut and cook other ingredients, or for about 30 minutes until slightly crispy and starting to brown. Start your rice now, too.
In a wok or large frying pan, add about 1 tbsp of canola oil, followed by ginger, garlic, and chili flakes. Stir over medium high heat until fragrant, about 30 – 40 seconds. Now, add the broccoli and mushrooms. Continue to stir for a few minutes until the vegetables are just beginning to lose their water, then add the red pepper, shallot, soy sauce, fish sauce, oyster sauce, and sugar. Continue cooking until the broccoli and mushrooms are almost tender – you don’t want to completely cook the water out of these though, because they are nice with a bit of a crunch!
Now, remove the tofu from the oven and add it to the stir fry along with the stock. Turn the heat up to high, stirring for an additional minute or two until the broccoli and mushrooms are just tender and the sauce has begun to diminish. Stir in the green onion and remove from heat. Serve over the rice, and don’t forget to spoon out the extra sauce! One of my favorite thing about this dish is that the rice soaks up the saucy flavors.