food for thought

by michelle

Archive for the ‘tofu’ Category

eggplant and tofu in garlic sauce

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I love Sichuan food. It’s so full of robust flavour without overpowering the ingredients. This recipe from Serious Eats has the perfect balance of salt, sweet, sour and spice. All the ingredients you might not recognise are readily available at Asian supermarkets.

Cut 900g (2 lbs) of eggplants into chunks. Place them in a large steamer and steam until the eggplant is completely soft. Set aside. Meanwhile make the sauce by combining 2 teaspoons of Chinkiang or black rice vinegar, ¾ of a cup of Shaoxing wine and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch and stir or whisk to combine. Add 3 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of Doubanjiang (fermented broad bean chilli paste) and 1 tablespoon of sesame oil. Set aside. Heat a wok or large saucepan over medium heat and and add vegetable oil and 2 smashed cloves of garlic. When the garlic cloves are golden brown and fragrant discard them and turn the heat to high. Add 4 cloves of sliced garlic, the sliced white parts of 2 spring onions and 2-3 tablespoons of thinly sliced preserved Sichuan vegetable (mustard root). Stir and cook until fragrant and just beginning to brown. Stir the sauce and add it, stirring constantly. Add the steamed eggplant and 350g (12 oz) of firm silken tofu cut into chunks and fold gently to combine. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer and cook for a few minutes more until thick and glossy. Stir in the chopped green parts of the spring onions and an equal amount of roughly chopped coriander (cilantro). Serve with steamed rice.

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Written by michelle picker

August 28, 2019 at 12:15 am

christmas 2018

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Only four of us this hot Christmas day, so we decided to have a Chinese hot-pot. Cooking everything at the table is the ultimate slow food but very satisfying and delicious!

Our home-made stock was made with pork bones, chicken and ginger. Before serving we seasoned to taste with salt and added a black cardamom pod, star anise, black peppercorns and Sichuan peppercorns. To cook we had: prawn and ginger dumplings; shiitake, king oyster and enoki mushrooms; a variety of fish balls; prawns; beef; pork; fried beancurd and beancurd skins; Choi sum and Chinese broccoli; quail eggs; and mung bean noodles. For dipping we chose our ingredients from soy sauce; black rice vinegar; sesame oil; sesame paste; minced garlic; minced ginger, chopped coriander (cilantro); chopped spring onions; and finely sliced fresh chillies. And some chilli oil.

Written by michelle picker

December 26, 2018 at 12:43 am

miso grilled tofu and vegetables

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Here’s a lovely way to eat tofu and should appeal to both vegetarians and omnivores.

You will need a firm tofu for this meal. For the vegetables I used butternut pumpkin (squash), zucchini (courgettes) and whole Swiss brown mushrooms but the choice of vegetables is flexible as long as they keep their shape reasonably well. Combine white miso paste with some sesame oil, a little brown sugar and enough water to make a paste which is thin enough to spread and thick enough to stick. The amount of ingredients here are flexible as miso paste varies quite a lot and you must taste this mixture to make sure it’s not too salty or too sweet. Cut the tofu and vegetables to the size you wish to serve and coat them all with vegetable oil. If you don’t have a griddle or barbecue you can roast the vegetables in the oven. Cook them first until they are a little brown and softening then brush them with miso paste and continue to cook until coated and delicious. Watch them carefully at this stage as the miso and sugar can burn quite easily. Serve garnished with finely sliced spring onion and toasted sesame seeds.

Written by michelle picker

June 13, 2018 at 12:04 am

shiitake mushrooms

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Shiitake mushrooms are used widely in Asian cuisines and considered to have many health benefits. They are widely available in their dried form but are a little harder to find fresh, although Asian stores are a good place to try. We decided to attempt to grow them. This a lengthy procedure with some inherent difficulties for those of us living in urban areas. The first problem was finding living branches from a suitable tree. This took some time but we finally found some fairly large oak branches without any signs of fungus or mould. Shiitake are grown by drilling holes into the branches and hammering in dowels impregnated with the mushroom spores – we ordered these online. The holes are covered with beeswax and the logs then need to be kept damp and in a nice semi-dark place, similar to a forest floor. We waited approximately 18 months before we induced the first crop by soaking the logs for a day and then dropping them to shock them into fruiting. This can be done in Spring, Summer or Autumn. Hopefully they will now fruit twice a year. Although our first crop wasn’t very large it was exciting to finally see the mushrooms growing and they tasted amazing!

This recipe for a Chinese-style omelette is perfect for featuring shiitake mushrooms. Begin by slicing some medium to firm tofu and fry it in a little vegetable oil. Season with soy sauce and honey and set aside. Remove the stems from the mushrooms (Shiitake stems don’t soften when you cook them) and slice the mushrooms. Heat a pan and add some finely shredded ginger into the dry pan until it is fragrant. Add some sesame oil and the mushrooms, season with a minimal amount of salt and cook them until they are just softening. Add the tofu to reheat it along with some spring onions. Keep this mixture warm while you make the omelette. Whisk 3-4 eggs with a little water and a drop of sesame oil, and season them with soy sauce and white pepper. Heat a generous amount of vegetable oil in a wide frypan, add  the eggs and allow them to cook, without turning, until almost firm. Place the mushroom and tofu mix onto one half of the omelette and, using a wide turner, flip the other half over the top. When the omelette is cooked carefully slide it onto a serving plate and garnish with spring onions and toasted sesame seeds.

Written by michelle picker

April 11, 2018 at 12:33 am

Posted in eggs, tofu, vegetables

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spicy tofu with oyster mushrooms

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Oyster mushrooms have great texture and robust flavour making this a very satisfying vegetarian meal.

planks

Heat oil in a large flat frypan or wok until smoking hot then add 2 brown shallots, 2-3 cloves of garlic and 2-4 red chillies, all finely diced. Next add large squares of tofu (classic Chinese style) and allow them to fry on both sides to add a little colour. As the tofu is frying add an equal amount or more of oyster mushrooms which have been torn into smaller pieces. When the tofu is sticking and the mushrooms wilting add 1½ tablespoons of soy sauce, 1 tablespoon of dark soy (caramel) sauce, some ground white pepper and a sprinkling of black rice vinegar (this is available at Asian stores or you could try apple cider vinegar). Serve with steamed rice and seasonal vegetables and make sure you scrape all the good bits off the bottom of the pan.

Written by michelle picker

May 25, 2015 at 6:56 am

tofu with mushrooms + water spinach stir-fry

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The people of Sichuan (Szechuan) Province in China are fond of hot and spicy food. This recipe, adapted from Eating Well Magazine, is no exception although you can moderate it to suit your taste.

szechuan-tofu-and-mushrooms

Drain your fresh tofu on several paper towels. Sprinkle with a little salt on each side. Place more paper towels on top and weigh the tofu down with a plate. Set this aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients. Make a sauce by mixing together 1 tablespoon of tomato paste, 2 teaspoons of black rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons of soy sauce, ½ a teaspoon of sesame oil, ¼ of a teaspoon of cornstarch, ½ a teaspoon of crushed dried red chillies and 3 tablespoons of water. Finely dice 4 cloves of garlic, slice 2 spring onions and slice mushrooms – I used 200g (7 oz) each of fresh shitake mushrooms and fresh oyster mushrooms. Heat some oil in a flat fry-pan and briefly add the garlic and then the mushrooms and spring onions. Cook until just softening and remove to a plate. Now remove the paper towels from the tofu and slice the tofu into squares. Add more oil to the fry-pan and fry the tofu over medium heat until brown on both sides. Return the mushroom mixture to the fry-pan along with the sauce. Gently mix through and continue to cook until the sauce is clinging to everything. Serve with rice and a green vegetable.

Here is a recipe for a Sichuan style stir-fry of water spinach (avaiable at Asian grocery stores).

stir-fried-water-spinach

Finely dice 4 cloves of garlic and finely slice 2 fresh birds-eye chillies. Wash 2 bunches of water spinach and slice into shorter lengths. Heat some oil in a wok and when hot add the garlic, chilli and ½ a teaspoon of Sichuan peppercorns (also available at Asian grocery stores). This step will only take a few seconds as the garlic should not brown so have the water spinach ready to add next. Cook the water spinach until the stems are just tender enough to eat. Add a pinch of salt and a splash of sesame oil, stirring through before serving.

Written by michelle picker

May 28, 2013 at 7:00 am

black pepper beancurd

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A birthday request was fulfilled with Yotam Ottolenghi‘s inspiring cookbook Plenty. This first recipe I tried didn’t disappoint.

Cut 400g (14oz) of firm tofu (beancurd) into cubes and toss in some cornflour. Shallow fry in batches in hot vegetable oil and remove onto paper towel. Discard the oil and sediment and melt some butter in the same pan. Gently fry 6 thinly sliced brown shallots, 4 thinly sliced long red chillies, 3 finely diced cloves of garlic and an equal amount of finely diced fresh ginger until soft. Add 1½ tablespoons of kecap manis, 1½ tablespoons of  soy sauce, 2 tablespoons of dark soy, 1 tablespoon of caster sugar and 2½ tablespoons of coarsely crushed black pepper. Return the tofu to the pan to reheat. Lastly add some thinly sliced spring onions. Serve hot with steamed rice.

Written by michelle picker

October 6, 2012 at 9:45 am

Posted in tofu

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