I was scheduled for a one-hour live radio interview this week on the Dr. Don radio show that beams out of Arizona. After reading Asian Tofu, he invited me to be a guest on his program earlier this year. We had a great time laughing and chatting about making tofu, hippie tofu versus Asian tofu, and health myths about eating soy.
When his production assistant, Sandy, scheduled me for the second interview, I jokingly said that we ought to talk about Tofurky since next week will be Thanksgiving. Sandy responded that she makes tofurkey annually for her holiday meal.
While I’ve made many things from scratch and enjoy project cooking, it never occurred to me that people would make their own tofurkey. I’ve only seen them in the freezer at our local health food market. Sandy emailed me her recipe, which involved a stuffing and tofu mixture that are baked and basted in a loaf pan. Intrigued, I started thinking about how I’d make an Asian tofurkey.
I figured that I’d tackle making my own (stuffing first, then the tofu shell) and Dr. Don and I would have more laughs on the radio. Alas, Sandy emailed today and we have to reschedule the interview. Dr. Don has to cover a shift in Urgent Care. (Yes, he’s a real medical doctor.)
I didn't mind. My schedule is loaded. I haven't mentioned this, but I'm reviewing the banh mi manuscript's copyedits, and preparing to tape another Craftsy class. Aside from those looming deadlines, I already dove down the tofurkey rabbit hole by preparing this vegetarian sticky rice dressing. I wanted to ensure that Asian foodways were part of the inside as well as outside of my tofurkey.
Because there’s such a small amount of sticky rice involved, I cooked it in a pot; no steamer needed. The grains were a bit mushy but just fine for my project. Wanting to keep the dressing vegetarian, I loaded it up with autumnal-colored vegetables – shiitake mushroom, carrot and parsnip (my go-to sub for gobo root). Pine nuts added luxurious bits of fattiness. Ground fennel contributed a warm sweetness.
When the dressing was done, I wanted to eat it so I baked some in a small ramekin. It was perfect for an individual portion. The top got a little crusty too. Delectable.
Here’s the dressing recipe, which is great on its own as a side dish with all kind of foods, vegetarian or not. I’m working on the tofurkey tomorrow and we'll see how the dressing performs inside a shell of tofu.
Sticky Rice and Pine Nut Dressing
Yield: About 2 1/2 cups to serve 4
- 1 cup sticky rice, long grain or short grain (available at Asian markets)
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons sesame oil, plus more as needed
- 1/2 cup (2.25 oz / 65 g) chopped shallot
- 1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 teaspoons minced ginger
- 1/3 cup (2.25 oz / 65 g) diced carrot
- 1/3 cup (2 oz / 60 g) diced parsnip
- 5 large dried shiitake mushrooms, reconstituted, stemmed and chopped (save soaking liquid)
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce or wheat-free tamari
- 1 tablespoon sake
- Black pepper
- 2 to 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
- 3/4 teaspoon ground fennel
- 1 1/2 tablespoons chopped cilantro leaves
- 1 to 2 tablespoons butter or coconut oil
- Cook the sticky rice. Wash, rinse and drain the grains. Put in a 1-quart (.25 l) saucepan and add the water, rounded 1/4 teaspoon salt, and a few drops of sesame oil to prevent sticking. Bring to a boil, then cook like you would a regular pot of rice. (See this post for guidance.) Set aside.
- Heat a medium skillet over medium heat, add the sesame oil. Add the shallot, garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, for about a minute until fragrant. Add the carrot, parsnip, and mushroom. Stir to combine and season with the soy sauce and about 1/4 teaspoon of salt and pepper.
- Splash 2 tablespoons of the reserved mushroom soaking liquid and sake. Cook for a few minutes longer, stirring, until the vegetables are just tender. Remove from the heat, stir in the fennel and pine nuts. Let cool for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, transfer the sticky rice to a bowl, fluffing and separating it as best you can. Add the cooked vegetable mixture and cilantro. Mix well, then finish with seasoning with extra salt and pepper. If you have super clumpy rice, use kosher salt to better distribute the savory goodness. The dressing can be made up to 3 days in advance, covered, and refrigerated.
- It’s ready to be used as a stuffing. To bake as a dressing, preheat an oven or toaster oven to 400F (200 C / gas mark 6). Smear butter (or oil) 4 individual ramekins then divide the dressing among the ramekins; the dressing compacts down during baking so feel free to mound it up and/or pack it down slightly. Dot with butter or oil, loosely cover with foil. Bake for 15 minutes, or until gently sizzling and hot. Remove the foil, then blast with broiler heat for 3 to 5 minutes to make the top slightly crusty.