Series: MODEST MONDAYS
All things in moderation is the theme of Modest Mondays, a weekly online cooking series with simple recipes to help counter the effects of overeating over the weekend.

For an adventurous cook, it’s always nice to find new ingredients in the market.

Shimeji mushrooms are not completely unfamiliar to us, but lately I’ve seen two varieties – fresh bunape shimeji (white beech mushrooms) and buna shimeja (brown beech mushrooms) – sold together in a pack with a total weight of 300g. You may think that you would not be able to finish them so quickly, but as I pleasantly discovered, they keep well in the fridge in the unopened packet for two weeks – and they looked like they could have lasted another week when I took them out to cook.

They’re pretty mushrooms and keep their shape and crunch when they cook so they’re great to use in stir-fries. They have a nutty flavour, and go well with meat or seafood. For the Modest Mondays series today, I am keeping the recipe vegetarian and cooking the mushrooms with tofu in a Sichuan-style sauce.

I’ve used firm tofu cut into cubes and marinated them before searing them on all sides. I do this to increase the flavour of the bland tofu. However, if that is too much effort, the tofu doesn’t need to be cooked beforehand.

Sichuan cooking features pungency and spiciness. Some of this heat comes from chilli bean sauce, which is easily available. However, if you just have ordinary black bean sauce (tauco), simply add a good dose of chilli flakes to build up the heat in the dish!

White and brown beech mushrooms – bunape shimeji and buna shimeji.

Serving

3

Ingredients

Sichuan sauce
1½-2 tbsp chilli bean sauce, or to taste
2 tsp Chinkiang vinegar (black rice vinegar)
½ tsp sugar
½ tsp sesame oil
¼ tsp cornstarch

Method

Prepare the sauce: Combine all the ingredients for the sauce with ¼ cup of water.

Cut each block of tofu into six pieces and marinate them in the soya sauce for 10 minutes. Heat up 2 tbsp of oil in a large frying pan. Drain the tofu and toss with the rice flour, shaking off excess. Fry the tofu over medium heat, turning to brown on all sides. Transfer to a kitchen paper-lined plate.

In the oil remaining in the frying pan, sauté the garlic, 30 seconds. Turn up the heat to medium high and add the mushrooms. Sauté until the mushroom begin to soften. Return the tofu to the pan and add the Sichuan sauce. Toss the mixture around until the sauce bubbles and thickens.

Plate up and garnish with parsley. Serve with boiled rice.

Crisp fried shimeji mushrooms.

Tip:

Shimeji mushrooms can be fried until crisp and used to garnish a dish. Fry the mushrooms over high heat in a little oil. Do not crowd the pan so do this in batches if you have too. Whatever liquid from the mushrooms with dry up quickly so that the mushrooms fry instead of boil. They will shrink a little as they cook. When they’re crisp and golden, drain on kitchen paper and sprinkle with flaky salt. They’re delicious! Sprinkle over fried noodles or use as a garnish for a thick soup, or on top of pizza – sprinkle them on after the pizza comes out of the oven for a nutty addition.