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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Broccoli Bouquet

    The Ingredients (for 4 servings):

    • 340 g (or ¾ lb) of broccoli 
    • 340 g (or ¾ lb) of cauliflower 
    • 8 to 10 cloves (about 35 g) of garlic
    • 30 ml (or 2 tablespoons) of fermented tofu
    • 30 ml (or 2 tablespoons) of liquid from the fermented tofu bottle
    • 45 ml (or 3 tablespoons) of cooking sherry
    • 55 g (or 2 oz) of fragrant mushrooms
    • cooking grade olive oil
    • slices of yellow, orange, and red bell peppers as as an optional garniture

    The Method:

    1. Cut the broccoli and cauliflower into bite-size florets, discarding tough stems, and rinse them under hot water in a colander or large sieve.
    2. Peel the garlic cloves and force them through a garlic press.
    3. Dice the mushrooms finely.
    4. In a small bowl, mix together the sherry and the fermented tofu with its liquid to make an thick liquid with no lumps.
    5. Pour enough oil into a skillet or wok to coat the bottom, and place medium-high heat until the oil is very hot but not smoking.
    6. Stir-fry the broccoli and cauliflower for 2 minutes.
    7. Add the garlic and stir-fry for 1 minute.
    8. Turning the heat to medium-low, add the tofu-sherry mixture, stir briefly, then cover the pan and allow to cook for 3 minutes.
    9. Add the raw mushrooms, stir to distribute them evenly, and turn the mixture out into a serving dish.
    10. For added color, sprinkle fine slivers of bell peppers on top of the dish.

    The Story:

    Truthfully, I don't like broccoli all that much. The taste is just plain greenie and the texture, especially of raw or steamed broccoli florets, is pebbly. When I eat it I feel like a pigeon, with rocks accumulating in my upper alimentary tract. Nevertheless, it's a nutritious and readily available vegetable, even sometimes for sale at our local farmers' market in Kaua'i.

    I don't know when I started using Chinese style fermented tofu (different from the infamous "stinky" tofu, which I have tasted and abhorred) or when I decided to try it as a flavoring for broccoli. But it turned out to be a perfect seasoning—salty, with the yeasty taste now called umami. The cauliflower gives a contrast in taste, texture, and color, and the mushrooms enhance the umami flavor.

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