Stealing From the Restaurant: Marumi Sushi's Tofu Steak
Marumi Sushi's tofu steak is made of pure win -- it's a thin brick of tofu that's been lightly floured and pan-fried, then topped with about a pound of mushrooms, onions, and silky sake butter sauce. The mushrooms are amazing. There are about seven kinds on top, including regular buttons, enoki, shiitake, oyster, and cremini. Lightly sauteed, the fungi are tender and the onions are crisp. And the sauce -- oh the sauce -- is slightly sweet, floral with sake, and thickened with butter. It pretty much demands swiping your finger through. For a simple piece of tofu, it's one of my favorite things on the menu. And it's only $7.50.
I decided I would try my hand at re-creating this awesome tofu steak at home. I had to make some concessions right away, however, as I only got my hands on shiitakes and creminis (I didn't like the look of the oyster and enoki mushrooms I found near my house). But the result was damned close. Here's what I came up with.
Pressing the water out of your tofu is a key step -- don't skip it.
I started with two packages of extra firm tofu. The first thing you want to do when dealing with tofu is press out the excess water. The blocks sit in those pools for a while, and they basically act as a sponge. So layer the blocks on paper towels on a plate, and put another plate on top. Then top that plate with something heavy -- canned food works great for this. In about 15 minutes, the towels will be soaked and your tofu a little more firm.
Next I seasoned the tofu, then dredged each piece in seasoned flour (just add salt and pepper). If your tofu doesn't come in small blocks like this, cut it no thicker than an inch. You could probably use an egg wash before the flour here, but I decided to leave that out. It would make for a bit fluffier crust.
Make sure the skillet is nice and hot, or the oil will soak into the tofu.
I heated a nonstick skillet and added olive oil, then sauteed the tofu for about eight minutes on each side, until the pieces had a golden crust. Flip only once, and make sure the skillet is nice and hot, and you won't have to add oil at any point. The tofu will also develop a better crust. When your tofu is done, remove the pieces to a rack and let them sit -- you can place them in your oven or microwave to keep warm while we finish the other stuff.
Clean those shiitakes well -- they can harbor all sorts of dirt.
Meanwhile, I prepped my mushrooms. I carefully cleaned a pound of shiitake mushrooms and a half pound of cremini. After that, I cut the mushrooms into small slices. I also sliced up two medium-sized onions, and heated my wok.
Once the wok is scorching hot, add a little bit of vegetable oil, making sure it's not so hot that the oil is burning. Toss in about a cup of sliced mushrooms at a time -- any more and you'll end up boiling the mushooms as they release their juices. Don't season them now either -- salt will make them bleed. Just render them down until they have some nice color. It may take you about four batches to get through all the mushrooms. Remove the mushrooms to a plate when each batch is done.
Get yourself about four ounces of sake -- it could be any kind you want. I grabbed these little bottles of Gekkeikan, which are nice because they're already measured to the perfect amount. Just like when cooking with wine, though, the sake should be something you wouldn't mind drinking. It should taste good or your food won't. Obviously, this sake isn't amazing stuff, but it's not horrid either. Just use your own judgment.
Time to go in with the sake. Once those onions are nice and brown but still crisp, add the sake. You should catch a bunch of sake-scented steam in your face, which is always nice. Let this reduce for a minute or two.
Now, back in with the mushrooms. Pour in any mushroom juice that collected on your reserve plate as well. Let this mixture boil and reduce for another few minutes until you've got about half as much sake in the wok as you started with. Now comes the important part. Hit the mix with about a TBS of tamari soy sauce and a TBS of rice wine vinegar. This will salt it and give it some zing. Then remove the wok from the heat. Take half a stick of butter and cut up into 1/2 TBS-sized pats. Dredge each pat through the leftover flour you had from the tofu -- the pieces don't have to be completely coated; just get a little flour on them. Add the butter to the mushroom mixture a few pieces at a time, stirring while you do it. You should get a nice, thick, pale yellow sauce. Yum.
Now arrange the tofu on a plate. Pour your thickened mushroom mixture and sauce on top so it completely covers the tofu. At the end, I cut up a bunch of chives and spread them around the top.
Looks beautiful, dunnit? Serve with steamed rice and sauteed bok choy. Next time, I might actually use egg wash on the tofu to make the
coating a little thicker, which in turn would soak up more sauce. While I can't say it came out just as good as Marumi's version, this tofu steak was a great meal and very healthful too.
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