My lover, Dan, is from Iowa; therefore, he is genetically programmed to be a meat and potatoes man. So fish and tofu don’t make it onto the menu very often at our house.
But when my friend, Danny (not to be confused with lover Dan), brought me a package of Quangzhou Milk Oolong from DAVIDsTEA in Toronto, this creamy, silky, buttery tea just cried out to be used in a fish dish. Since there is no fish eating at my house, I tested out the Milk Oolong tea in Danny’s kitchen instead.
We came up with a simple braising recipe that works great for fish and tofu. The difference between the preparation of the fish and the tofu is that you want to let the tofu cook a little longer in the braising liquid so it has time to soak up some flavor. You can’t really overcook tofu here like you can fish.
Also, braising in tea alone leaves either protein a little lacking in flavor. So the key to this recipe is to add some aromatics to the tea-based braising liquid, without overpowering the original flavor of the brewed tea.
This dish turned out so nice that my Dan said he could be talked into having tofu on the menu at our house more often. But he’s still snubbing fish.
Happy cooking and sipping!
Here’s a quick visual journey through the recipe preparation:
Milk Oolong Tea-Braised Fish (or Tofu)
By Suzanne Klein, Tea Foodie
Makes 2 large servings of fish and 2 large servings of tofu. Double either protein if you want 4 large servings of only fish or tofu.
2 cups filtered water
2 heaping teaspoons loose leaf Milk Oolong tea (I used Quangzhou Milk Oolong from DAVIDsTEA)
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon mirin (rice cooking wine)
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, minced
2 teaspoons cornstarch, plus 2 teaspoons water
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 lb extra firm tofu, cut into 4 equal pieces and patted dry with paper towel
1 lb mild white fish (e.g. halibut), as 2 large pieces
Salt and pepper
1. Bring the water to a boil, remove from heat, and pour it over the loose leaf tea. Cover, and steep for 5 minutes. Strain the tea liquid into a medium-size mixing bowl, and discard the tea leaves. (Or, steep the leaves a second time, and sip on this fabulous tea while you’re cooking!)
2. Whisk the soy sauce, mirin, garlic, and ginger into the tea liquid, and set aside. In a separate small bowl, mix together the cornstarch and water, and set aside.
3. Season each piece of tofu and fish with salt and pepper. (I used my Tea Foodie Green Tea Salt for seasoning.)
4. Start the tofu first: Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the 4 pieces of seasoned tofu to the pan, and cook, undisturbed, about 3 to 4 minutes per side, so each side gets a nice brown sear. Add 1 cup of the tea-braising liquid to the pan, reduce heat to medium, cover, and simmer for about 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the tofu from the pan onto a serving plate. Add half of the reserved cornstarch mixture to the liquid in the pan, and simmer for a few minutes, until the liquid reduces and thickens slightly. Pour sauce from the pan over the plated tofu, and serve.
5. While the tofu is simmering, get the fish going in a separate pan: Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a medium sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the 2 pieces of fish to the pan, and cook, undisturbed, about 1 to 2 minutes per side, so each side gets a nice brown sear. Add the remaining 1 cup of tea-braising liquid to the pan, cover, and simmer for about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove the fish from the pan onto a serving plate. Add the remaining half of the reserved cornstarch mixture to the liquid in the pan, and simmer for a few minutes, until the liquid reduces and thickens slightly. Pour sauce from the pan over the plated fish, and serve.
- Keep checking on the fish to make sure you don’t overcook it. It should be tender, moist and flaky, and not too dry or firm. Cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your fish pieces.
- You could substitute any other oolong, green, or black tea in place of the Milk Oolong.
- Serve either protein over greens, soba noodles, or rice noodles, and top with fried shallots and/or fried garlic to add a little flavorful crunch.