Kohlrabi is an uncommon vegetable. My research puts it mostly in the turnip sphere and treats it thusly: saturate in butter and/or cream. That’s a very European view of this vegetable. Kohlrabi is also popular in India and China, though you wouldn’t know it looking through most vegetable cookbooks.
|A kohlrabi along with some Kashmiri saag (probably mustard greens)|
I’m here to fix that. Kohlrabi does not need to be cooked to death, then puréed, and finally bathed in butter and cream. It’s quite delicious lightly cooked. In texture and flavor, it is similar to broccoli stems, which you could use instead of kohlrabi in this recipe. It has great crunch. It isn’t overly cruciferous in flavor. Perfect for a stir fry.
This is a mild flavored dish with a play of textures: crunchy from the kohlrabi, chewy from the mushrooms, and soft from the tofu.
Kohlrabi with Tofu and Dried Shiitake Mushrooms
8-10 large dried black mushrooms (shiitake)
1 ½ pounds kohlrabi
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 Tablespoon Chinese rice wine or dry sherry
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1 ½ teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon Asian roasted sesame oil
3 Tablespoons vegetable oil
1 Tablespoon minced ginger
14-16 oz. tofu, cut into cubes
Soak the black mushrooms in about 2 cups boiling water for at least 30 minutes.
Peel the kohlrabi and cut into thick julienne, like thin French fries. Cut the scallions into 3″ lengths, then slice thinly lengthwise. Set aside.
Remove the mushrooms from the water, cut off the woody stems, and slice the caps. Pour off ½ cup of the soaking liquid, being careful to leave the bits at the bottom of the bowl in the bowl. Mix 4 Tablespoons of the soaking liquid with the cornstarch, rice wine, black pepper, ½ teaspoon salt, sugar, and sesame oil. Set aside. Add ½ teaspoon salt to the remaining ¼ cup of the soaking liquid and set aside.
Heat up oil in a wok or large skillet until nearly smoking. Add the ginger and stir until fragrant, about 10 seconds. Add the kohlrabi, scallions, and mushrooms. Stir fry for one minute. Stir soaking liquid with just the salt added and add to wok. Reduce heat to medium and cook, covered for 4 minutes.
Add the tofu, but do not stir, and sprinkle with remaining ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and cook for 3 minutes. Stir the mix of soaking liquid, etc. to redissolve the cornstarch. Pour over everything. Stir lightly. Bring liquid to a boil to thicken sauce; there isn’t a lot of sauce. Serve immediately over rice.
Photo: By Tarunpant (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons