stank you very much: spicy tofu with shiitake mushrooms

Sorry for all of this quiet on the blog front, but this past weekend my little brother got all married up in a small and beautiful ceremony. This was also the weekend that a crazy snow storm hit Southwestern Ontario. Luckily we flew in Thursday afternoon when the weather was still clear and while our Friday drive from Toronto to London, Ontario took 4 hours instead of the normal 2 hours, we arrived safe and sound. Our flight heading back to Vancouver was delayed for a little bit on Sunday night, but we made it back to balmy Vancouver temperatures no worse for wear.

A little jet-lag aside, I’m posting a recipe I made a couple of weeks ago. This year, I’ve decided to to try new things. My eggplant recipe from last month is one such example…I tried it and hey, I liked it! This meal is another kick in the pants for me: dried mushrooms. Normally, I’m not a fan but I came across this recipe on Epicurious and decided to take another look. I played with the ingredients to suit what I had on hand and lucky me, this meal was amazing served over brown rice.

Now if you think that conquering this fear was a breeze, I assure you it was not. Cutting up the rehydrated mushrooms was a painful process because no one told me that dried mushrooms have a very earthy nasty stank. It was so pungent that I almost didn’t go through with it….but like any trooper, I forged ahead. When the meal was ready to eat, I made Cornelius (also a mushroom hater) try the first bite. He liked it…so I cautiously dug in too. Thankfully, this was amazingly yummy! It was spicy, vegan and delicious and it tasted like a great meal from my favorite Chinese restaurant. While the recipe list looks long, it’s actually pretty quick to whip up once the mushrooms have soaked. Stank or no stank, I’m making this recipe again!

30 comments to “stank you very much: spicy tofu with shiitake mushrooms”

  1. 1
    Maven   March 10, 2008 at 7:00 pm

    Well, I would’ve warned you if I’d known you had mushroom issues. I have mushroom issues too, but I somehow use dried mushrooms all the time now, especially because the boyf is crazy for the texture. I’ve never soaked them for two hours, though! I wonder how that changes the texture, compared to the 20-30 minutes I give them…

  2. 2
    LisaRene   March 10, 2008 at 10:37 pm


    I actually despised mushrooms until recently. I decided I was going to learn to like them and started making myself try them, over and over, just little bits at first. I agree that dried are a bit unappealing but fresh I have come to love except for button or portabella (like biting into a slug).

    Great blog, I’ll check back and see what your cooking up!

  3. 3
    Mari   March 11, 2008 at 3:44 am

    I’m a mushroom fan who lives with mushroom hater. 🙁
    I hardly cook with them anymore, but I never got into dried mushrooms. I’m curious.

  4. 4
    Rachel   March 11, 2008 at 4:29 am

    I love dried mushrooms! Maybe soaking them for so long was the root of the stinky problem, they reinflate in about 10-20 minutes and that’s all they need. I really wring them out as well.

  5. 5
    erin   March 11, 2008 at 9:55 am

    I’m always looking for new tofu recipes, and I just happen to love mushrooms! This looks great.

  6. 6
    Bijoux   March 11, 2008 at 9:57 am

    J – I can’t believe that you stayed in TO and did not mention it. We could have met up! tsk tsk tsk 😀
    Actually, I did not even peek my nose outside all weekend. I stayed home and hibernated. Seriously. I am so anxious for all this snow to melt away. There is just too much of it. Balmy weather in BC?
    bah humbug!!
    Anyway, I LOVE mushrooms(all kinds)and have cooked with dried ones before. Yes, I agree they do have a putrid smell. However, once they have melded with all the other flavours in the dish they can taste really good and I quite enjoy the chewy texture of dried ones.
    I will attempt to make this dish soon …I’m just in the process of polishing off a block of tofu this week with plenty of leftovers for work. Yum!

  7. 7
    VeggieGirl   March 11, 2008 at 11:20 am

    no worries about not posting lately – sounds like it was DEFINITELY for a great reason! :0)

    mmm, shiitake mushrooms are my second-favorite mushroom variety (portabellos come first!) – looks like a delicious dish, as always.

  8. 8
    Sylvie   March 11, 2008 at 12:34 pm

    I’ve never used dried mushrooms as I usually like the fresh ones, but your meal sounds and looks great.

  9. 9
    fridrix   March 11, 2008 at 7:15 pm

    I tried the dried shiitake but don’t remember any smell. The texture was so subpar though. I got a mushroom log earlier this year. Most of them just went into ramen though.

  10. 10
    eatme_delicious   March 12, 2008 at 12:01 am

    I don’t like dried mushrooms either, but if you say this tastes good then I’m willing to give them another try! I still need to try your eggplant recipe.

  11. 11
    Helen   March 12, 2008 at 6:57 am

    I’ve never eaten tofu before but this week I spontaneously bought some. This looks like a great way of using it.

  12. 12
    kickpleat   March 12, 2008 at 9:07 am

    ah, maven, i’m trying to get over my mushroom issues! the stench didn’t help too much but i’ve got a very acute sense of smell. next time, i’ll soak ’em for less time, but the texture was great…like fresh even!

    haha, biting into a slug, i see what you mean, lisarene!

    mari, maybe you can give this recipe a try, i mean it converted 2 mushroom haters into lovers! it might work for you too.

    i’ll try soaking them less, next time around rachel. i also wrung them out too. we’ll see!

    then, i think you’ll love this recipe, ventures with veggies!

    bijoux, i only stayed in Toronto for 18 hours (besides all the time stuck in the airport).

    veggiegirl, i love portabellas too!

    sylvie, i think you could totally sub in fresh ones here. try it out!

    fridrix, a mushroom log? i’ve seen them online and curious!

    eatme delicious, this is a great recipe. you can try fresh mushrooms too!

    Helen, never had tofu? well, try this out! this recipe is delicious and easy!

  13. 13
    Sara   March 12, 2008 at 10:26 pm

    This looks fantastic!

  14. 14
    Cakespy   March 13, 2008 at 9:11 am

    Oh that looks delicious. No mushroom issues here. Ever since my first visit to the Mushroom Museum at age 7 I have been awakened. Yes, this place exists. It’s in PA.

  15. 15
    Meg   March 13, 2008 at 10:13 am

    Mmm, that looks fantastic. I like their smell, but dried mushrooms do have quite the permeating stank. And it sounds like a perfect dish for a cold, damp night.

  16. 16
    MB   March 13, 2008 at 3:55 pm

    Looks delish.

    Mushrooms are very healing. I find I crave them when I am unwell.

  17. 17
    Cheney   March 13, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    I’m a new here (came here by way of my friend Rach at thusbakeszarathustra) and I’m loving your blog. Your recipe for salmon patties is just about the easiest delicious thing to make (and they taste good cold too).

    This recipe looks like a more vegetarian version of my Chinese favourites – Ma Po Tofu. I usually break up dried mushrooms into little pieces before soaking – saves on any gross chopping!

  18. 18
    hag   March 13, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    I don’t like mushrooms either…. I think it is more the texture than the taste that turns me off. But, I have had some fantastic mushrooms in LOADS of garlic and butter at a pub in London once … and I liked ’em. Also I like the flavour of porcini mushrooms…but I still tend to pick out the large bits. Good for you for facing your food fears!

  19. 19
    Cookie baker Lynn   March 14, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    Amazingly, the picky eaters in my family love shitake and tofu, so I’m definitely saving this recipe. Good for you, pushing the envelope on your food fears!

  20. 20
    Anonymous   March 15, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    this was amazing! i used sambal oelek instead of chili garlic sauce (just because that is what i had available) and some additional soy sauce and garlic. thanks for the recipe!

  21. 21
    rach   March 15, 2008 at 5:22 pm

    Dried shitake mushrooms are incredible, I’m glad you overcame your issues. This sounds delicious and comforting, I shall have to mate it.

  22. 22
    Anonymous   March 16, 2008 at 9:42 am

    I am always peeping in on this blog, and today I thought I would finally stop and say hi!
    I have tried several of you’re recipes, and have had success with all of them…. I’m still a novice, but you’re recipes always turn out so great, SO great in fact, that I can’t be bothered to try out any other food blogs!

    I have always been a bit intimidated by cooking with Tofu, but I’m giving this one a try tonight! I have complete faith, that it will be as great as everything else!

    Thanks for all the yummy meals!

  23. 23
    Anonymous   March 16, 2008 at 9:43 am

    I am always peeping in on this blog, and today I thought I would finally stop and say hi!
    I have tried several of you’re recipes, and have had great success with all of them…. I’m still a novice, but you’re recipes always turn out so great, SO great in fact, that I can’t be bothered to try out any other food blogs!

    I have always been a bit intimidated by cooking with Tofu, but I’m giving this one a try tonight. I have complete faith, that it will be as great as everything else!

    Thanks for all the yummy meals!

  24. 24
    kickpleat   March 16, 2008 at 11:22 am

    thanks jeena!

    sara, it totally is 🙂

    cakespy, a mushroom museum? interesting!

    meg, this meal perfect for those cold cold nights!

    marusya, i certainly don’t have that kind of craving, but i’ll take your word for it.

    anything in butter and garlic should be good, hag! in a pub, even better!

    cheney, thanks for the breaking up tip! next time!

    thanks lynn, it’s a struggle 🙂

    anon, glad you loved it! hoorary!

    rach, i’m glad i tried this recipe too. i’ll definitely give dried mushrooms another go!

    thank you anon, you’re making me blush! tofu isn’t anything to worry about! enjoy the challenge 🙂

  25. 25
    Corinne M   March 19, 2008 at 9:19 am

    I have never tried using dried mushrooms before, they have always scared me a little but I think I am going to start now!

    PS I love your blog! Anything with tofu makes me happy 🙂

  26. 26
    Harwin   March 21, 2008 at 4:47 am

    Love your recipe.

  27. 27
    kickpleat   March 21, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    thanks corinne! if i can get over dried mushrooms, so can you!

    thanks harwin!

  28. 28
    Bijoux   April 20, 2008 at 12:02 pm

    I have made this dish twice so far. It is phenomenal! I used fresh mushrooms using a combination of wild and domesticated. I did not have black bean sauce on hand either time, so I threw in a handful of black beans from a can on one occasion and the other time I added a tablespoon of miso paste. I have served it with brown rice vermicelli noodles and with brown rice separately. Whichever way you prepare this dish, it is so delicious!!

  29. 29
    ChristineD   March 28, 2009 at 9:01 am

    My reconsititued shiitakes smell like gasoline. I’m scared to use them. Anyone have this experience. They are labelled “certified organic…”. Thanks.

  30. 30
    kickpleat   March 30, 2009 at 10:05 am

    ChristineD, I honestly can’t remember if my mushrooms stank like gasoline….all I do remember is that they really did smell awful. If you are wary, then chuck ’em. My mushrooms were purchased in Chinatown and not organic.

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