Most of my friends turn their noses up at the mention of Tofu. ‘Bland‘, ‘tasteless’ and ‘feels like a sponge.’ I’ve heard people complain about its plain appearance. ‘Oh’, my impassioned cried start off, ’the best bit about it is that it is like a sponge’. Protein packed tofu is absorbute. It soaks up and retains juices and flavours and is illuminous with all with the colours of the concoctions you cook it in. It brings dishes to life with every mouthful, when all of the intended flavours of a dish burst out of the tofu. I get quite romantic when describing tofu. It’s the plain canvas, waiting to be touched with emotion and imagination. Tofu is the bride, waiting to be adorned! Maybe I should curtail the romantic descriptions!
Japanese, chinese, Indian or Italian; I use it in a myriad of dishes, but here are a few of my favourites. I could eat these scrumptious items every week!
Pointed Sweet Peppers stuffed with spiced tofu
I do love sweet peppers. I adore the smell that permeates the kitchen. I could soak it up all day long. The colours make me smile and these peppers are a joy to unravel and find more flavour packed inside.
2 pointed sweet peppers
A pack of firm Tofu, with the excess water removed and then scrambled
one medium onion
4-5 mushrooms, finely chopped (small pieces)
3-4 curry leaves
Spices: 1 tsp curry powder, 1 tsp tomato puree, salt to taste, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1tsp cumin seeds, ¼ tsp mustard seeds, 2 chilies finely chopped ¼ tsp black pepper
Tip: scramble the tofu by crushing it in your hands. It should break easily to give a scrambled-egg like appearance.
1) Heat the oil in a non-stick pan before adding the mustard, curry leaves, chilies, cumin seeds, mustard seeds and allow them to crackle
2) stir in the onion and shallow fry until softened and transparent
3) Introduce the scrambled tofu and then mix thoroughly
4) Add the black pepper, curry powder, salt, coriander powder and cook for 3-4 minutes
5) stir in the tomato puree before turning off the heat
6) ) Make a slit pepper lengthways and then deseed the pepper. Stuff the pepper with the tofu and then roast in the oven until its slightly blackened and roasted. don’t roast it enough so that it falls apart. you will find that ten minutes is enough
Chick-pea and Tofu Curry
Curry juices burst out of the tofu when pressed with a hot buttery chappati and yellows and oranges enlighten the tofu.
one can of chickpeas
A pack of firm Tofu
2 firm red tomatoes
5-7 g of ginger, peeled and finely grated or minced
2 cloves of garlic, finely diced
one onion, finely diced
1 tsp lemon juice
Spices: 1 tsp paprika, 2 cloves, 2cm piece of cinnamon, a bay leaf, 2 green chilies, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, ¼ tsp black pepper, 1 tsp cumin seeds, ¼ tsp of turmeric powder, a pinch of asafoetida,
1) Heat the oil in a non-stick pan before adding the mustard and asafoetida, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, chilies, cumin and bay leaf. allow the seeds to crackle.
2) Stir in the onion and saute for a couple of minutes to soften, before adding in the garlic and saute until both the onions and garlic are soft, but don’t let them brown
3) Mix in the chickpeas, before introducing the spices and salt to taste.
4) add ¼ cup of water and the tomatoes, simmer until the tomatoes have softened. Do not simmer for more than 5 minutes.
5) Meanwhile, in a separate pan shallow fry the cubes of tofu until they are golden, before removing them onto kitchen paper to absorb any excess oil
6) Mix together the tofu and the curry and simmer for a further 2-3 minutes
7) garnish with the coriander and serve with lots rice or chappati.
serve with vegetables of your choice or rice.
One pack of firm Tofu
3-4 spring onions
¼ cup of peas, boiled for 3-4 minutes
1 red pepper, diced
one firm tomato, sliced horizontally into
¼ of sweetcorn kernels
¼ tsp of garam masala
¼ tsp of black pepper
¼ lemon, squeezed
Spices: 1 tsp paprika, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp toasted cumin seeds, ¼ tsp mustard seeds, ½ tsp turmeric powder, 1 bay leaf, 2 green chilies (finely chopped), ¼ tsp garam masala
1) Drain the tofu and wrap it kitchen paper until all of the excess water has been absorbed.
2) Heat the oil on a non-stick pan and then add the cumin seeds, turmeric, mustard seeds, bay leaf and chilies and allow the seeds to crackle before adding in the onions
3) fry the onions for a couple of minutes, until they have softened. Stir in the diced pepper and sweetcorn kernels and then the salt, coriander powder, cumin powder, paprika and then let the peppers soften until they can be pierced.
4) Crumble the tofu with your hands and aim to achieve a scrambled egg like texture and then combine with the vegetables and spices. Turn the heat down to a very low flame, before squeezing in the lemon juice and sprinkling in the garam masala. Cook gently for a further 3-4 minutes.
If you like your tofu to have a bit of bite and pull then a great way to achieve that is to drain it, cube it and then shallow fry it before freezing it. When you want to use them, just defrost in the microwave.
Drain, cube and marinade the tofu in 2 cloves of minced garlic, 1 tbsp of olive oil, black pepper and 5g ginger, 1 tsp of lemon juice. Leave it for a couple of hours in the fridge and then shallow fry it or use it in a stir fry. It really lifts the tofu.
Tart up the tofu by giving it a glaze. If you marinade in a little soy sauce, then give it a honey and chili glaze before crisping it up either in a pan, or in the oven, you’ll be bountiful with little gems to scatter into your salad.
Replace Paneer with Tofu in curries for a lower fat alternative that responds well to curry bases and gravies. For example, in palak paneer (spinach and paneer) curry, add shallow fried tofu. Do the same with mutur (peas) paneer or even a mixed vegetable and tofu curry.
Stir fry crumbled tofu, or even silken tofu with pak choi, bean sprouts and spring onion with garlic and a little soy sauce and bundle them into wontons and then steam. I love these as a starter or light meal.
Use up cooked rice, by shallow frying a large onion, 1 tsp of lemon juice, cloves, 2 chilies, cinnamon, star anise and a bay leaf and some crumbled tofu. Add salt to taste. sprinkle in ¼ tsp of black pepper. This side dish is fabulous with a hot bowl of dhal.
Fry up the tofu with bell peppers, sliced onions and Cajun spices and then blanket them in tortilla wraps for a fun and tasty lunch.