(Epicurious) Parsnips, Shitake, & Tofu

“What’s the plan for dinner?” That’s probably one of the most common questions around here these days – next to “is she sleeping?” and “good God, what is that?” And, true to form, the question arose again this evening when the intended pork ribs were still resting in their unintended deep freeze marinade (read “frosted”)…

Hmm, thought the bedraggled but culinar-ally curious husband. Run to the market, find some lean meat on sale? Find a good side veggie? What’s in the fridge right now? A couple parsnips… maybe could pair that with, I don’t know, broccoli?

Alas, a trip out of the house was not in store for our epic hero this eve, and so instead he consulted the pantry and came up with a small list of potential ingredients.

Leaf lettuce.
Dehydrated shitake mushrooms.
Firm tofu – don’t ask.
Bean thread noodles.
Jalepeños. (Yes, I know that one of these things is not like the others…)

I had the ingenius idea – or sad brain fart – of trying to make some form of lettuce wrap. But I didn’t want tofu with the consistency of ground beef, so I needed to do something to firm it up. So how about an initial dredge in seasoned flour, egg wash, and second dredge in said flour?

I seasoned some flour (salt, pepper, nutmeg, curry – though it turned out kind of bland). Sliced the tofu into small rectangular pieces, four stacks. Dredged two stacks less one piece with flour, egg, and flour – did one piece without egg. Let the rest sit stacked after a single dredge – and discovered that as they sat, the salted flour mixture pulled out enough moisture from the tofu to make the egg wash unnecessary. So the second two stacks went back into the flour sans egg wash. So the tofu squares – or “nuggets” as we described them to Will! – came out in two styles: the egg battered ones had a slightly thicker batter on them, but the batter puffed up a bit; the non-egg washed ones had the same color and crispness, but no puffiness.

Okay. Tofu (why did we have that in the fridge?) was cooked/cooking. Had some extra egg wash and flour and so I thought, why not?, and deep fried a few jalepeño slices. Mmmm. Could eat these all day. Oh, wait, I have to cook for the other two…

Took the mushrooms out of their soak (and was disappointed that they didn’t all soak all the way through), sliced them roughly, and threw them into a skillet to cook with the parsnips, bean thread noodles, some red & orange pepper, and a teriyaki sauce over high heat. Oh, darn, should have started the parsnips first…

So the whole thing didn’t turn out stellar… Although I did use the lettuce to “wrap” mine, Lynn forwent that – the ‘shroom & parsnip mixture was a bit too chunky, perhaps…

But I do have to say that I was struck by how well the parsnip and shitake flavors mingled together. Were I to do it again, I’d julienne the parsnips a bit finer and sweat them a bit before adding the shitake; I’d also julienne the ‘shrooms rather than just slice them. The bean threads would have added a nice crunch if I had deep fried them – but the oil was not looking pretty anymore, so I wasn’t going near it again. On their own, they didn’t really add much to the combination…

Overall, it was good – and, again, I was struck by the combination of parsnips and shitake mushrooms. I wouldn’t have thought of that before. Sometimes having no clear plan in mind, and experimenting with what’s in the kitchen, doesn’t turn out too badly!

And Will loved the nuggets, both styles. Ate them better than he eats chicken nuggets – 7 of them! Course, he had ketchup on them, too…

(As a subcategory on my blog, Epicurious entries are about my curiosity and love for food and cooking.)


One response to “(Epicurious) Parsnips, Shitake, & Tofu

  1. Quick update: The tofu nuggets are great reheated (on broil, in the toaster oven) and then tossed with Tabasco Chipotle sauce. A great faux-wing! Boneless, even!

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