Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Cabbage, Mushrooms, Tofu Stew 香菇豆腐烩白菜

Both braising and stewing are moist-heat, slow-cooking methods that develop flavors over time. Most often, meat such as beef or lamb are braised or stewed as moist-heat over time tenderizes the meat by breaking down the muscle fibers and connective tissues. Then what is the difference between braising and stewing? When referring to meats, braising cooks large cuts of meat vs stewing that uses small uniform meat pieces.

Technically, this homemade Chap Chye should be considered Mixed Vegetable Stew as it consists of relatively-small, uniform vegetable pieces (mainly Napa cabbage), mushrooms and tofu. Though its name means vegetable stew, Chap Chye may not be vegetarian all the time when some Chap Chye may contain dried shrimps as one of the "flavor" ingredients, and often uses oyster sauce as seasoning. Today's Chap Chye version - Mixed Vegetable Stew, however, is vegetarian.

This is not my first time making Chap Chye but this is an even simpler version from the one made last time. So, if you have trouble finding dried lily bulb and dried bean-curd/tofu sheets - ingredients commonly found in the classic Chap Chye, don't worry as this version uses ingredients that are easily available in most Asian supermarkets if you are outside Asia. The only ingredient in this recipe that is possibly hard to find might be woodear mushrooms or black fungus mushrooms.

Mixed Vegetables Stew 香菇豆腐烩白菜
10 oz tofu, pan-fried
5-6 fresh shiitake mushrooms
Handul of brown crimini mushrooms
Handful of fresh woodear mushrooms (optional, if there is limited accessibility to this ingredient)
1 small Napa cabbage, sliced to bite-sizes
1/2 cup finely sliced carrots
1/2 cup finely diced onions
1 small shallot, thinly sliced
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 small knob of ginger, finely minced
2tbsp light soy sauce
1tbsp dark soy sauce
1tbsp Cooking wine
Pinch of sea salt, ground white pepper
1 tbsp sesame oil

Directions: Saute the onions, ginger, shallots and garlic till fragrant. Add carrots and mushrooms and fry for 2-3 minutes. Add cooking wine to deglaze the pot, then add light and dark soy sauce to the mixture. Mix well. Add water to partially submerge the carrots and mushrooms and simmer at low-medium heat till mushrooms are tender and "release" the flavors. Add tofu and cabbage, mix well, cover the pot and simmer for 15minutes or more till all the flavors are developed in the stew.

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