There are many homey Chinese recipes based on simply steaming silken-style tofu and topping it with a simple sauce of sautéed meat with a light gravy. I wondered what would happen if I replaced that meat with some spicy Italian-style sausage from my local American supermarket. It works shockingly well.
Why this recipe works:
- Soaking dried shiitake mushrooms in water and using that mushroom water as a sauce ingredients gives it an instant flavor boost.
- Traditionally, plain minced pork would need to be marinated for hours to infused with flavor. By using store-bought sausage, the flavor comes already packed in.
Note: It's important to use soft silken tofu for this recipe and to handle it very gently so that it doesn't break apart.
- 5 whole dried shiitake mushrooms
- 1/2 cup boiling water
- 1/2 pound hot Italian sausage (about 2 links), removed from casings and crumbled
- 4 teaspoons soy sauce, divided
- 1 1/2 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
- 1/4 teaspoon sugar
- 1 (20-ounce) box soft silken tofu
- 2 teaspoons oyster sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
- Kosher salt
- 1 scallion, chopped
- 1/4 cup roughly chopped fresh cilantro
- Steamed white rice for serving
Combine dried mushrooms and boiling water in a small bowl. Cover and set aside for 5 minutes. Remove mushrooms, squeeze out excess liquid (reserving all liquid), and slice. Set aside mushrooms and liquid.
Combine sausage with 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 teaspoon sesame oil, and sugar. Set aside.
Place a steamer insert into a large Dutch oven and fill with 1 inch of water. Bring to a simmer. Upend tofu onto a shallow plate and carefully drain off excess water. Place plate in steamer, cover, and allow tofu to steam until hot, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from steamer, carefully pour or spoon off excess water, tent with foil, and set aside.
Combine reserved mushroom liquid, remaining 1/2 teaspoon sesame oil, remaining teaspoon soy sauce, oyster sauce, and cornstarch in a small bowl and mix with a fork to combine. Set aside. Heat sausage and sliced mushrooms in a medium non-stick skillet over medium-high heat, stirring and breaking up sausage, until just starting to turn golden brown, about 3 minutes. Re-stir sauce mixture then pour into skillet and heat, stirring, until thickened, about 1 minute.
Uncover tofu and pour sauce over it. Sprinkle with scallions and cilantro and serve with white rice on the side.