This dish is definitely a favorite; it’s really easy to make, you can add flavor and flair by adding different vegetables (or meat), and my version is completely vegetarian and you don’t even notice that there’s no meat because the king mushrooms are so hearty. My mom introduced me to king mushrooms when I was a kid – they’re chewy and fun to eat and really cheap in Chinatown (I recently saw them at Whole Foods for about $19.99/pound – they’re $1.99/pound in Chinatown and you can find them at practically any street vendor). The chive blossoms add a great garlicky flavor, the king mushrooms add an interesting texture, and the pressed tofu adds a lot of flavor since it’s preserved in various spices. Also, since the tofu is preserved, the dish is already salted (although I occasionally add additional salt).
1 pound of Chinese Chive Blossoms (very easily found in Chinatown)
2-3 king mushrooms (also found in Chinatown)
3 pieces of dried tofu (primarily found in Chinatown, but I’ve seen these in specialty aisles at grocery stores)
First, cut up the chive blossoms into 1.5-inch pieces (cut off the stem of the chive flowers because it’s too fibrous to eat):
The chive blossoms are used a lot in Chinese cooking; my mom used to grow chives in our backyard and everytime we had to cut some up for a dumpling filling or chive box, our backyard had a very strong garlic scent. Chives also spread like a weed, so it was all over our garden and suffice it to say, we used to have a LOT of dumpling parties!
Next, roughly cut up the king mushrooms (I like bigger chunks because the mushrooms are chewy and have a bite to them, but you can cut them thinner if you’d like):
Lastly, cut up the pressed tofu:
Heat up a pan with a little oil and put in the tofu (it takes the longest to cook so it goes in first):
After about 2-3 minutes (just so the tofu is warmed up), add the king mushrooms:
After another couple of minutes, add in the chives (they don’t take very long to cook and they wilt if you cook them too long):
Occasionally stir with chopsticks to make sure everything cooks. You can also add a little salt now:
You can tell the dish is done when the chives have turned a dark green and the king mushrooms are slightly translucent:
The completed dish:
The dish has veggies, protein, and lots of nutrients. It also takes about 15 minutes (max) from start to finish; while the tofu is heating up, you can start making a little oatmeal (with flax seed), which is my grain of choice with this dish.