This isn’t a typo. The blog hasn’t been hacked. This is, in fact, an all singing, all dancing, totally vegan dish with tofu. If you know me at all, you’ll know that this is not generally my idea of a good time. But if you are, like me, looking to find some ways to consume meat-free meals which don’t seem like meat-free meals, stick around – we’ve cracked it.
It was with an extremely sceptical attitude that CB
pushed encouraged me to try this. My experiences of tofu in the past have been all miss with no hits. When I’ve encountered it, it’s always been used as a meat substitute which is where I’ve perhaps gone wrong. My carnivorous palette cannot simply lie back and think of England when being ravaged by barbecued tofu skewers (don’t even). What I’ve come to realise is that if the meal is about tofu, then I can’t make it about tofu dressed as meat.
See how much I’m learning?
1. Use firm tofu. We used Cauldron and drained and then pressed it with some kitchen paper to get rid of as much moisture as possible. This will help your tofu crisp up nicely at the edges.
2. Have a friend to help you do all of the salad grating which takes time but which is worth it. If you wanted to speed things up, get a pre-packaged sweet salad bag and finely dice some cucumber into it.
Jamie’s Magazine brought out a ‘healthy’ eating edition in January which, amongst other things, featured a recipe for this which we have gratefully adapted to suit us. This meal is not a drill. Don’t wait for a vegetarian friend to visit, make it today!
Serves 4, generously or 5 smaller bellies
Sesame oil (Don’t be tempted to substitute this with other types of oil)
1 large onion, finely sliced
350g pack of firm tofu, drained and pressed to rid of moisture. Cut into bit size pieces (2-3cm cubes)
6 tbsp hoisin sauce
2 tbsp sesame seeds
200-250g of your favourite dry noodles, cooked as per packet instructions
a small handful of peanuts, crushed
1 large red chilli (medium spiced), finely sliced
2 limes, cut into wedges
Sriracha sauce, to serve
3 tbsp brown sugar
1 stick of lemon grass, peeled and finely sliced
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine vinegar (white wine vinegar or cider vinegar will do in a pinch)
1 tbsp sesame oil
Juice of 2 limes
2 carrots, grated
1/2 cucumber, grated
2 baby gem lettuce, finely shredded
4 spring onions, finely sliced
Leaves of a small bunch of mint (approx 30g bunch incl. stems)
- Make the dressing first by dissolving the brown sugar in 50ml of boiling water then mixing through the remaining ingredients.
- Heat 1 tbsp of sesame oil in a heavy bottomed frying pan and fry the onions until sweet and quite caramelised. This should take about 20 minutes.
- If you’re in a rush, once you’ve put the onion on the heat, heat a further 2tbsp of sesame oil in a separate pan and fry the drained and cubed tofu until brown and crisp on all sides – 10 to 15 minutes. If you have more time, do this step in the same pan as the onions, after they have finished cooking and have been set aside.
- Use the time while the onions are cooking to prepare and assemble all of the salad ingredients in one bowl.
- Once the tofu is cooked to your liking, add the hoisin sauce and cook through for a further 4-5 minutes. If you haven’t already cooked your noodles, do that as soon as you’ve added the hoisin sauce.
- Add the sesame seeds to the tofu for one further minute before taking it off the heat.
- Assemble lovingly in your bowls as follows: Noodles on the bottom, followed by salad (you’ll baulk at how much there is – this is deliberate) then the tofu. Top this with the fried onions, crushed peanuts, chilli slices and then smother the whole lot in the dressing. Serve with lime wedges on the side and with a beer and a bottle of sriracha within reaching distance.