Gluten Free Chinese Food: Spicy Chili Tofu and Chinese Mushroom Broccoli Recipe

chinesemealtrio.jpg There are two really cool things about my DH. One is that he is willing to try almost any food once, and even if he doesn’t like it the first time, he’ll try it a few more times to make sure. The other thing is that when he found out I was Gluten Intolerant (Celiac, actually), he didn’t even blink and continued with his efforts to sweep me off my feet- with gluten free foods instead of gluten foods. As I got to know him better, I found out that his favorite thing in the entire universe is actually Chinese food, which was rather sad as I rarely have success dining at most Chinese places. Even when friends have tried ordering for me (in Cantonese, no less), simple things like vegetables stir fried in salt and oil somehow don’t escape the contamination monster, resulting in me feeling icky all evening. Boo. In recent years I’ve discovered the joys of Chinese American Restaurants like P.F. Chang and their sister restaurant, Pei Wei with their gluten free menus, but when DH and I were first dating I didn’t know of anywhere where I could eat Chinese food safely. So, when DH had a craving for Chinese food, I’d drink tea and eat plain rice and, let’s be honest, mope a little bit. When DH proposed and I suddenly had a fiancee facing years of Chinese food deprivation, I decided that it was high time that I learn how to prepare Chinese food properly. I started experimenting with a book by Eileen Yin-Fei Lo, who wrote what in my opinion is the best Chinese Vegetarian Cookbook ever, (out of print) book, From the Earth: Chinese Vegetarian Cooking. I learned new techniques like blanching vegetables and incorporating them in corn starch thickened sauces to avoid blandness- I learned how to season oil with scallions or fresh garlic clove- and I learned how healthful and delicious Chinese vegetarian food could be, and grew to love it as much as DH. There have been some failures. I can’t help but think of my first time steaming bok choy, when I misread the directions and steamed the life out of that poor baby green for 30 minutes, resulting in slime that could possibly have been used in a horror movie as a stand in for gelatinous goo trailed by some nightmarish creature. It also took several times working with a recipe to perfect the steaming time and balance of sauce to ingredients, but once I mastered each recipe we’d have another regular favorite for our Chinese meals. One of the first recipe I mastered is this recipe for Broccoli and Mushrooms. The freshness of the mushrooms are key, and I prefer to use whole broccoli stalks, cutting my own florets, as the ones you buy precut are usually slightly wilted and mopey by the time you get them to your fridge at home, while the whole broccoli remains more robust. We often increase the sauce by about 1/3rd or so, as DH likes a lot of yummy sauce with his vegetables. I just love this dish, as it incorporates two of my favorite veggies. I made a P.F. Chang Style tofu recipe to accompany it, of course using fresh, delicious toofu from the farmer’s market. (For those allergic to tofu, the original at PF Changs is made with chicken or shrimp, so you could try the recipe substituting your favorite ingredient.) What delicious Chinese foods do you prepare at home?

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Best Ever Chinese Broccoli Mushroom Recipe
Ingredients
Sauce:
1/3 cup vegetable stock (I use Vegetable boullion)
2 tsp low sodium San-J wheat free tamari
1 1/2 tsp sherry
1/2 tsp sugar
2 1/2 tsp cornstarch
pinch of pepper

Other:
3 quarts water
One slice of fresh ginger
2 tsp salt
3/4 lb brown or white mushrooms, caps only
3/4 lb broccoli flowerets (fresh cut is best, and I like to include some stem cut at an angle to retain crunch)
2 tbsp scallion oil or peanut oil
2 halved whole garlic cloves, skinned
2 tsp minced ginger
2 tsp minced garlic 1/4 tsp salt

Directions
Mix sauce ingredients and reserve.

Bring water, salt, and ginger in pan to a boil and blanch mushrooms for a minute or so, then draining. Bring water back to boil and blanch broccoli briefly (30 seconds or so) until bright green- don’t overcook! strain and rinse in cold water, drain.

Heat wok over high, add scallion oil or peanut oil and heat. Add whole garlic to oil and turn over when brown, removing when both sides are brown and oil has been infused with flavor. Let white smoke appear above oil and add minced ginger, garlic, and salt, stirring briefly. As garlic turns light brown, add mushroom caps and broccoli, stir frying for up to two minutes. Create space in center of wok for sauce, stir sauce to make sure cornstarch hasn’t clumped, and pour in. Mix ingredients as sauce thickens, remove from heat, put in serving dish and enjoy with rice.

Notes
We love this. Sometimes I increase proportion of sauce to ingredients for additional yum.

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12 Responses to “Gluten Free Chinese Food: Spicy Chili Tofu and Chinese Mushroom Broccoli Recipe”

  1. Looking very good! These Chinese-inspired foods are my staples over brown organic rice. Sometimes I make a thickened sauce, sometimes just put on tamari and salt and pepper, maybe with a dash of cayenne,(and a bit of water to steam) but always with garlic, ginger and onion-infused oil.

    If you julienne the ginger and fry it in the oil it goes gloriously crisp.

    Also like the idea of the chili fried tofu. Motto motto yum-my. I’d like to get my hands on that book; I’m a cookbook junkie.

    psst: Switch to genmai — more B vitamins and better taste.

  2. Tonight we’re having hoisin-stir-fried veggies. Now, my dad apparently is a dab hand at chinese cookery. My best friend (a native east-Indian) in school had grown up in Japan and was absolutely floored the first day she came over for dinner. “Where did you learn how to cook like this?” She couldn’t believe my dad could use american ingredients and pull off what to her newly arrived taste buds was an exact clone of some of her favorite dishes. *shrug*

  3. Hi Seamaiden:),

    We went to PF Chang’s last night. Fell off the vegetarian wagon, I’m afraid. But woke up this morning determined to renew my convictions. Having company for dinner and making tempeh burgers. Might have to add your broccoli and mushrooms recipe. Went to your remake of the PF Chang’s recipe quoted in above post and looks just like the GF chicken dish we had last night (their take on General Tso’s chicken – not sure of spelling). Will definitely try it this week. You’re a genius!!!

  4. Hey there VegJ! Infused oil is the best for flavor. Actually we used to go to this Chinese restaurant in Chiba City that had the best food- and their secret was garlic infused oil. So tasty! They were really nice about “Niku Nashi” as well… The garlic in this recipe is little bitsy crispy cubes, about the same width etc as a julienne- it’s good stuff.

    I hope you can find the book- it’s my hands down favorite. One thing to keep in mind is that they take a somewhat loose approach to vegetarianism- there is a chapter of seafood recipes. However, the chapter on vegetables blows away any other book in my collection- and I’ve got quite a collection. ;)

    Love genmai… Love basmati, jasmine- if it’s rice, I love it. ;)
    -Sea

  5. Hi Ellen,
    I think eating strict vegetarian AND gluten free out is one of the more challenging things out there… and PF Changs doesn’t have any really swoon worthy GF VEG options. (Although their crispy peas are lovely). They will make their Spicy General Tso’s dish with Shrimp, but not with tofu, as far as I know. That motivated me to make my own! I was inspired to make the recipe by a chicken one I found on a copycat recipe site- so can’t take tooooo much credit. ;) I have fun varying the veggies for the saute underneath, too… last time there was red pepper, cabbage… all kinds of goodies. I always hated PF Chang’s veggies with the Spicy General Tso, as it was chock full of celery. Anyway, good luck staying on the wagon and have fun cooking!
    *hug*
    -Sea

  6. Hi Naomi,
    It’s really interesting to see how Chinese food is interpreted around the world- for example, the Japanese take on Chinese fried rice often includes very Japanese pink fish cake cubes- and we all know how unique Chinese American food is! (Chop Suey anyone? or how about some ketchup in your sweet and sour???) I should start translating and trying more recipes from my Japanese cookbooks- there are some great, simple Chinese recipes in there. Funny about your friend- one thing I do appreciate about the States is the way a melting pot culture leads to amazing availability of international ingredients, especially in urban areas. Japanese supermarkets tend to be more monocultural, unless they are very gourmet or located in huge cities like Tokyo or Yokohama. I missed my international ingredients while I lived there sometimes… Even some Chinese ingredients were hard to find. :)
    -Sea

  7. Well HI THAR SeaLIAC LLAMA person! Consuming massive quantities of gluten free Chinese People is my most delicious activity for me today. Especially when these people are made out of broccoli or mush shrooms. Which I see you’re people is be made from. They look delicious!! Keep on rolling on, young stallion. Cogito ergo yum?

  8. [...] Try my other Chinese Recipes: Gluten-Free Soy-Free Chinese Fried Rice Recipe (Veg) Gluten Free Chinese Food: Spicy Chili Tofu and Chinese Mushroom Broccoli Recipe (Veg) Szechuan Chinese Peas and Sweet and Sour Veggie Stir Fry (Veg, Soy Free) Special Fried Rice (optional seafood ingredients) [...]

  9. [...] Want other Chinese vegetarian recipes? Try my Chinese Broccoli Mushroom Recipe Szechuan Chinese Peas [...]

  10. [...] Here’s Ra in the background as the DH poses with this week’s one-dish hearty thai brown rice noodle salad. This week the Gluten-Free Menu Swap is Hosted by Asparagus Thin with a theme of bitter flavors. I will have to give this some thought… stay tuned to see how her theme inspires me. I also always enjoy posting my menus with Org Junkie. Don’t forget that Cheryl is temporarily housing the Gluten Free Menu Swap at her blog GF Goodness. Monday Dinner: Chinese Broccoli Mushroom Stir Fry [...]

  11. I just discovered your blog a few days ago, and then spotted this post. I kind of combined the two stir frys you mentioned here, and can I just say I ended up with one of the best stir frys that I have ever eaten? This has become one of my new favourite blogs. Keep up the good work!

  12. Nice post, my girlfriend is now more serious with her food, over the last few years so she is constantly in local fruit and veg markets, vegan restaurants and even a health food book store. Its interesting even if you’re not a vegetarian yourself, theres so much good food to eat!

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