one day i'm throwing a dinner party and the theme is going to be "white". i've already planned out the entire six-course menu, which led to me planning a "green" dinner menu, "black", then one that highlighted just beans or rice or chilies. i thought i'd be realistic and planned to execute just one of these dinners a quarter. yeah…that was over a year ago and i haven't attempted one yet. but this creation, although not part of the original plan, reminded me of the white dinner idea. i'm gonna do it, damn it. in june! there, i'm putting it out there. now i have to do it. in the meantime, let me tell you about calm-looking but super-flavourful white vegetables en papilotte (in parchment).
steamed vegetables may sound boring but it's all about strategy: trapping nutrients, cooking fast, and cleaning less! unlike stir-frys which require more oil, or boiling in which vegetables loose some of their goodness to the water, steaming requires no fat (though this recipe has some in the marinade) and the parchment also keeps in the steam which helps the food to cook faster. plus it's "one-pot cooking" without the really messy pot to worry about after.
just make sure to lay out a large enough piece of parchment to hold all of the ingredients with room to enclose the package and still be able to crimp the edges securely all around. you don't want steam or liquid escaping. parchment is quite tough and will scrunch well without ripping so don't worry, this is not a fussy process and you don't need a pretty result.
i've made this recipe with bok choy and swapped in other ingredients before, but it turned into a "white" vegetable dish when i used napa cabbage in place of the greens. the sweetness or the napa echoed the sweetness of the sauce from the hoisin and was a reprieve from the thai bird chili i use. a tiny chili goes a long way when it's simmering in a sauce! consider yourselves warned.
serve over the starch of your choice–white rice noodles, somen noodles or white rice continue the theme nicely. but feel free to substitute them for soba noodles, brown rice etc. and also to swap out any of the vegetables for your own favourites. as long as they're cut in sizes that allow them to cook at the same speed, you should be enjoying a healthy and quick meal just the same!
white vegetables en papilotte
note: make sure to cut a large enough piece of parchment paper to hold all of the ingredients, with room to enclose the package and still be able to crimp the edges securely all around. you don't want steam or liquid escaping. parchment is quite tough and will scrunch well without ripping so don't worry, this is not a fussy process and you don't need a pretty result.
1 lb medium or normal tofu, drained, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes and laid out on a large plate
6 large leaves of napa cabbage cut down the centre and then cut into 1 inch slices (about 4 cups)
3 large king oyster mushrooms, cut down the centre and then cut on a bias into 1 inch slices (about 3 cups)
2 scallions, sliced into thin strips lengthwise and then cut into 2 inch long pieces
1 inch of ginger, sliced into thin matchsticks
1 small thai red chili (bird's eye), sliced thinly (yields a very spicy dish; for less heat, seed the chili and use half, or use half a seeded serrano)
2 tbs soy sauce or tamari
2 tsp black pepper or black bean sauce
2 tsp mirin
2 tsp rice vinegar
1 1/2 tsp hoisin sauce
1 tsp sesame oil
parchment paper cut to size (see head note)
preheat oven to 325 degrees. on a large cookie sheet, lay out parchment paper and set aside.
pour 1 tbs of soy sauce over the tofu, trying to coat all of the pieces. set aside.
in a bowl large enough to toss all of the sliced napa leaves, combine the remaining soy sauce, black pepper sauce, mirin, rice vinegar, hoisin sauce and sesame oil. add the chili and mix well. add all of the napa cabbage to the bowl and using your hands or tongs, toss well to coat the leaves with the marinade. transfer leaves to the centre of the parchment paper. add the mushrooms to the bowl and toss in the remaining marinade until it's entirely soaked up. transfer mushrooms to the parchment, then transfer the tofu (including soy and liquid) to the parchment paper, and sprinkle with the scallions and ginger. fold parchment edges together to enclose the ingredients completely and fold and crimp the edges securely so that no steam or liquid will escape during cooking. transfer parchment package, on the cookie sheet, to the preheated oven. bake for 30 minutes, then remove from oven, carefully open the package making sure the steam escapes away from you and that no liquid spills out. spoon some of the sauce on the bottom over the tofu and vegetables. serve hot over rice or noodles.