Did the title of this column throw you off? Tantalizing tofu? Sounds like a kitchen paradox- how could pressed soybean curds make anyone’s mouth water? Tofu may not be traditional fare in this part of the world but there are millions across the ocean who swear that tofu really is the best thing since long before sliced bread. I dare you to try this recipe and tell me it isn’t delicious. If this unique dish can’t convince a few meat eaters to embrace the occasional no-meat-meal, I’ll eat my hat.
Tofu has been around for more than two millennia. It originated in China and spread eastward throughout Asia as Buddhism made it’s way across the continent. There are many reasons to try this ancient, nutritious and interesting food: it has long been an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and is a go-to staple in my kitchen those nights when meat is not on the menu. Tofu is also low in calories and contain very little fat. It is high in iron and often also high in calcium and magnesium.
This particular recipe calls for firm tofu, which has been pressed to produce a flexibly solid mass of bean curd. Firm tofu most closely resembles meat and gives a similar satisfying feel in the mouth, however, it is not going to fool anyone. I think the trick here is not to try to serve the tofu and claim it’s chicken. Instead, embrace this ancient food’s unique flavour and call a spade a spade. Be honest and enjoy pressed bean curd for what it is.
Here’s what you’ll need:
For the sauce
2 Tbsp soya sauce
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp rice vinegar
2 tsp honey
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 inch ginger, grated
For the ‘meat’
1 pkg firm tofu
1 c. plain flour
salt and pepper
vegetable oil for frying
For the meal
Iceburg lettuce, leaves pulled apart
red and/or yellow peppers, sliced
Heat oil in a deep frying pan over medium heat.
While oil warms up, remove firm tofu from package and pat dry-ish with a towel. Slice tofu into 1/4 inch pieces and carefully lay them out across the cutting board. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Carefully coat tofu with flour by immersing them in a bowl of the white stuff. When the oil is hot, fry tofu in two batches. When the outsides begin to get golden, they’re finished. Let them cool a few minutes on a paper towel and then transfer to a serving dish and lather them in sauce.
Serve wrapped with peppers in a leaf of lettuce.