I stumbled upon this recipe for Moldavian mushroom stew while leafing through Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman’s “Please to the Table: The Russian Cookbook.” I immediately thought I could put the mushrooms I had sitting in the refrigerator to a good use. The dish was easy to put together and very delicious with varied, interesting flavors. Traditionally, tokana is eaten with mamaliga, a cornmeal dish, resembling mashed potatoes in texture, but I opted for mashed potatoes this time as I didn’t have any cornmeal at home.
Moldavian Mushroom Stew (Tokana)
Adapted from “Please to the Table: the Russian Cookbook,” by Anya von Bremzen and John Welchman
1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms (such as boletes, portobello, cremini, white, or a combination)
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
1 medium-size red bell pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
3 large fresh, ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded, and coarsely chopped
2 large cloves garlic, sliced
1 teaspoon sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon fennel seeds
2 teaspoons all-purpose flour
3/4 cup dry white wine
salt and ground black pepper, to taste
3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh parsley
Trim the mushrooms, separating the stems from caps, and wipe thoroughly with a damp paper towel to remove any traces of dirt. Cut the mushrooms into 1/2-inch pieces. If the mushrooms are young and firm, you can use the stems, too.
Heat 4 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the mushrooms and saute, stirring constantly, until the mushrooms are browned, about 7 minutes. Sprinkle with the lemon juice and set aside.
Heat the remaining oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring, until the onions are lightly colored, 7 to 8 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, garlic, paprika, thyme, and fennel seeds and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes.
Turn the heat down to medium and sprinkle in the flour. Add the wine and stir to blend. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then reduce the heat to low and simmer, covered, for 12 to 15 minutes.
Add the mushrooms, stir, and simmer for about 10 minutes longer. Correct the seasoning, sprinkle with parsley, and serve.