This is my version of a recipe inspired by the incredible Mari Fujii.
- 300 g (10½ oz) block of silken tofu, organic if available
- 1 tbsp mirin
- 1 tbsp usukuchi shoyu (light Japanese soy)
- 1 tbsp sake
- 1 tbsp white sesame seeds, toasted
- ½ tsp finely grated fresh ginger (grated using a Japanese ginger grater)
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 8 fresh shiitake mushrooms, about 6 cm (2½ in) in diameter, stems removed
- katakuriko, potato starch or plain (all-purpose) flour, for dusting
- 1 ½ tbsp sesame oil, for pan-frying
- finely julienned mitsuba (Japanese trefoil), seri or shiso, to garnish (optional)
Oven temperatures are for conventional; if using fan-forced (convection), reduce the temperature by 20˚C. | We use Australian tablespoons and cups: 1 teaspoon equals 5 ml; 1 tablespoon equals 20 ml; 1 cup equals 250 ml. | All herbs are fresh (unless specified) and cups are lightly packed. | All vegetables are medium size and peeled, unless specified. | All eggs are 55-60 g, unless specified.
Draining time 1 hour
Serves 4–8 as part of a multi-dish meal.
Wrap a double thickness of clean, dry cotton tea towel (dish towel) or several layers of kitchen paper around the tofu block and place it on a small baking tray.
Place another similar-sized tray on top, then weigh it down with a container filled with water — or a few tins of tomatoes! Allow to sit for 1 hour, or until the towel is soaking wet and the tofu is about half its original size. You may need to replace the tea towel or kitchen paper during this time.
Combine the mirin, shoyu and sake and set aside.
Finely grind the sesame seeds using a suribachi (ribbed Japanese mortar and wooden pestle). Crumble in the pressed tofu and continue to grind until the tofu is smooth. Stir in the ginger and salt until well combined. Lightly brush the insides of the mushroom caps with starch or flour, then divide the tofu mixture among the caps and smooth over. Sift enough flour over the top of the tofu to lightly coat it.
Heat the sesame oil in a large frying pan over medium–high heat. When hot, add the mushrooms, tofu side up, and cook for 4 minutes. Carefully turn them over and cook for a further 4 minutes, or until a crisp golden crust has formed.
Quickly turn them over again so the mushrooms are tofu-side up. Carefully pour the shoyu mixture around the base of the mushrooms. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, for about 1 minute, or until the liquid has almost evaporated.
Immediately serve the mushrooms on a platter, garnished with herbs if desired. Variation: For an impressive vegetarian starter, heat some kombu dashi and shiitake dashi and thicken to a sauce-like consistency with kuzu or arrowroot. Add some rehydrated wakame (seaweed), then pour into wide shallow bowls and top each with two of the mushrooms.
Recipe and images from Zenbu Zen by Jane Lawson, published by Murdoch Books $69.99.