Difficulty Level: Easy
Big chunks of meat and potatoes are usually what come to mind when you think about stew. But many university students either don't have the money or the inclination to eat that kind of meal. I was looking for something that was vegetarian and would be hearty and nourishing, while being easy on the pocket book. And like all of the recipes in this series, you have to be able to make it all in one pot. This recipe fulfills all of those requirements, but I will freely admit that it isn't the most beautiful dish I've ever made.
I invited my son and his girlfriend over to be guinea pigs for this dinner which I made up on the fly as an experiment. They are both vegetarian and close enough to the student way of life to appreciate the task at hand. They also both eat a lot of tofu and are big Chinese food fans, so I chose Asian ingredients. Feel free to add any vegetables that you might have on hand. Baby bok choy or other green such as spinach would work well in this. I added some dried mushrooms, but that can be expensive, so just leave them out for a cheaper meal. If you do use them, make sure to add the soaking water to the stew after you have put it through a sieve lined with paper towel. I used a dried Mexican chili and I added the soaking water from that as well. If you wanted a really spicy stew you could use a small Thai bird's eye chili. Cut some of the potatoes small enough that they will break down during cooking and make a base for the stew.
I made a large amount of this because I wanted to see if it was even better the next day like traditional stew and it was. The flavours had some time to meld together and the texture held up nicely. Like all of my made up recipes, the ingredient amounts are approximate.
|1 tbsp||peanut or vegetable oil|
|1||onion, finely chopped|
|1||clove of garlic, minced|
|2 medium||potatoes, peeled and chopped into pieces|
|1 cup||vegetable stock or water|
|1 oz||dried mushrooms, plus soaking liquid (optional)|
|1 1/2 cups||white mushrooms, cleaned and sliced|
|1||dried chili, chopped, plus soaking liquid|
|1||fresh chili chopped|
|1/4‑ 1/2||soy sauce|
|1 small||stick cinnamon|
|2 lbs||tofu, drained and cut into cubes|
- Heat oil in a large pot. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another couple of minutes. Add the potatoes and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the potatoes are just tender, about 10 minutes.
- Add the mushrooms, the re-hydrated mushrooms, if using, the chili, star anise, cinnamon and soy sauce. Cook for another 10 minutes or so. Add the tofu and continue to cook, covered for at least a half an hour to allow the flavours to blend. You can make this earlier in the day or the day before serving.