Friday, May 29, 2009

Stewed Mock Meat

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VB thinks Chinese food is sauteed garlic with some vegetables. Unfortunately, that's generally true, unless you go to a vegetarian Chinese restaurant. There you'll find lots of "mock meat" items. I like mock meat as long as it is flavorful and tastes somewhat like the real deal. To me, this stewed mock meat dish tastes very similar to the meaty version.
  • 8 slices of vegetarian smoked ham
  • 8 dried shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 block of firm bean curd, cut into 8 equal slices
  • 2 whole star anise pods
  • 1 dried chili pepper
  • 4 tablespoons of vegetarian oyster sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of vegetarian shacha sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon of pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon of five spice powder
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of sugar
  • 2 slices of fresh ginger root
  • 1/4 cup of canola oil
  • 1 cup of hot water
  • 2 cups of water
Soak dried shiitake mushrooms in 1 cup of hot water for 15 minutes. Drain. Separate stems from caps. Do not discard stems.

In a large shallow skillet or a wok, pan fry bean curd slices, vegetarian smoked ham slices and mushroom caps until slightly golden. Remove. Stack ham, mushroom and bean curd and secure with cotton string.

In a medium pot, saute ginger root, chili pepper, star anise pods and mushroom stems until fragrant, about 2 to 5 minutes. Add 2 cups of water, vegetarian oyster sauce, vegetarian shacha sauce, soy sauce, five spice powder, pepper and sugar. Cook until the mixture boils. Add previously assembled stacks back into the pot. Reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

I really like the basic flavors of this dish. The combination of sauces and aromatics can be used on other ingredients like seitan. Next time, I may just use seitan and mushrooms instead of the vegetarian meat and bean curd.

We also had scallion pancakes and ma po tofu for dinner. I'm not very happy with how the scallion pancakes turned out. So no recipe for now. As for the ma po tofu, I can't take any credit for it. The sauce came from a pouch. Normally I'd make everything from scratch, but a little help from the store is nice every now and then.


  1. Mabo tofu pouches are the best.

    What was wrong with your scallion pancakes? From the appearance it looks like you might need a moister, more rested dough and a better rolling technique. But that stewed tofu is super cute with the strings.

  2. The dough was super chewy. And I didn't put enough scallions. Boo.

  3. You either didn't put enough water in the dough or didn't let it rest long enough. I know J's grandma always lets her dough sit for several hours, and I try for at least an hour. It should be pretty soft even though it has no yeast and won't really rise.

    Then you roll it into a pancake shape, throw on a handful of scallions, curl it up into a tube, roll the long tube into a coil, throw on more scallions, and then flatten the coil and roll it out again. All the rolling helps give it some texture and layers, sort of like how a croissant doesn't really have layers, but the texture comes from a lot of folding and re-folding.

  4. Nah, I don't think it's the resting time or the rolling technique. The recipe I used calls for a hot water dough instead of a cool water dough. Although I don't know what difference that makes exactly, but to me, this dough was much chewier than, for example, a dumpling dough.

  5. Adding hot water, then cold water,is standard for most Chinese doughs. It helps the dough develop glutens, which might be why it was so chewy if you only used hot water. Resting it longer allows the glutens to relax, making a softer dough. Basic rule of thumb: if you roll it out and it wants to bounce back into its original shape like crazy, you need to let it sit longer.

    It might also just be too thick.