July 23, 2012 in Cooking with Woolies
I was first introduced to tofu during a shoot we did for an American food website about two years ago. Having never even thought of buying it, never mind cooking it, before then, it was a real foodie first for me! I still remember removing the first block from its sleeve and not knowing how delicate it was – I reduced it to mush by the time it was freed from its packaging! The only thing it was good for was blended in a dessert. The second time around, I gently cut away the box and was presented with a lovely smooth slab of bean curd. Tofu is super-nutritious, it’s made primarily from bean curd and is very popular in Asian cuisine because of its high protein and calcium content. It’s also suitable for vegetarians and vegans.
I think that tofu is still a bit of a mystery ingredient in South Africa – people are put off by its texture but if it’s prepared the right way, you’ll love it. Tofu comes in different varieties, silken and firm. You have to be extra gentle when handling silken tofu as it has a tendency to fall apart. It’s suitable for desserts. Firm tofu retains its shape much better and is good for slicing and for use in stir-fries. Firm tofu seems to be more readily available locally.
Tofu is delicious pan-fried or grilled. It gives it a slightly golden crust, and is always best served hot. Try using it in Thai or Indian curries, or glaze it with honey before serving it with chilli and ginger noodles. When tofu is cooked, it takes on many different flavours such as Indian spices or fragrant Asian dipping sauces. Try this salt-and-pepper tofu with sweet-and sour-dipping sauce – it’s the perfect snack for the Olympic Games. It’s lightly battered in seasoned rice flour and has to be served while it’s still hot and crispy so that it can absorb all the flavours from the sweet-and-sour Asian dipping sauce.
- ½ red onion, finely chopped
- 1 fresh green chilli, thinly sliced
- 1 fresh red chilli, thinly sliced
- 3 T fish sauce
- 2 T rice wine vinegar
- Juice of 1 fresh lime
- ¼ t sesame oil
- 1 t sea salt
- 1 t freshly ground black pepper
- 6 T potato flour
- 3 T avocado or peanut oil
- 1 x 297 g box of firm or silken tofu
- 1 red chilli, thinly sliced
- Few sprigs of fresh mint
- To make the sweet-and-sour dipping sauce, combine the red onion, finely chopped, fresh green chilli, thinly sliced, fresh red chilli, thinly sliced, fish sauce, rice wine vinegar, the lime juice and sesame oil and set aside to infuse while you make the tofu.
- To make the tofu mix the sea salt and freshly ground black pepper with the potato flour. Heat the avocado or peanut oil in a pan over a medium to high heat. Cut the firm or silken tofu into long strips or bite-sized pieces.
- Dust in the seasoned potato flour and shake off any excess. Fry in batches for 30 seconds on each side, or until golden. Remove using a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper.
- Scatter the fried tofu with a red chilli, thinly sliced, and a few sprigs of fresh mint. Serve with the dipping sauce.
Let me know what you think of the recipe and tell me how you like to eat tofu.
Have a great week!
Consultant Food Editor, Woolworths TASTE