Friday, July 3, 2009

A culinary case of mystery greens – greens with tofu & shiitake mushroom en papillote

Often we encounter mysterious looking greens unexpectedly. It is sweet but challenging surprise. Last summer, I encountered one of mystery greens that I haven't figure out what it is till now.

My dear friend got this green on her hand but had no time to cook.

So, she generously offered it to me. I accepted the greens along with lots of other goodies but exactly don’t know what to do with it. I bited into it. It has certainly taste of leafy green and quite tender: a good mixture of little bit of bitterness and hint of indescribable tastes.
It was too tough and grassy to eat as salad. So, it should be cooked.
Instinctively I went back to what I know best; sesame oil, soy sauce and ginger. I haven found any green that didn’t work in this mixture.
Next, I needed to decide what is best cooking method: steamed, blenched, or sautéed.
Since the leaf was tender, I didn’t want to cook it too much. Also it was too hot to boil water or tend sauté pan. I needed something that let me stay out of kitchen while it cooked. So, I steamed it in the parchment paper pouch: en papillote.

Ingredient (for two people): half package of tofu, one cup of sweet potato greens or others cut into two inch length, 3-4 dried shiitake mushroom, 1 green onion cut into two inch length, sesame oil 1/2 tea spoon, soy sauce 1 Table spoon, white wine 1/2 Table spoon, grated fresh ginger 1/2 Table spoon, pinch of freshly cracked pepper, parchment paper 2 feet in length

1. Preheat oven for 380 F.
2. Wash lightly dried shiitake mushroom and soak them in cold water for 30 min or till the stem part become tender. Cut off the stems and squeeze gently out the excess water.
3. Cut tofu into 6 pieces.
4. Fold parchment paper into 3.

5. Arrange hard part of greens (stems) and white part of green onion in the center. On top of it, arrange tofu and shiitake mushroom. Cover it with remaining greens and green part of green onion.
6. Fold the edge of parchment paper tightly in length first and fold one of wide end, forming an envelop (or pouch) with one-end opened.
7. Add mixture of ginger, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper, and white wine through one open end and crest it tightly. 8. Place it on top of cookie pan and bake it for at 380F for about 20 min.

9. Wear oven mitts and open it with kitchen scissors right before serving (watch out for hot steam!!!)

10. Serve it with steamed rice.

So far I found this methods works for most of tender greens including spinach, yu choi (edible rape), dandelion greens, and sweet potato greens. Adding bean sprouts and sugar snap peas is also good variation. En papillote is also good method to impress your guest with minimum effort. Not to mention, it makes excellent vegan main dish.

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