Slim Pickings: Tuck into tofu for a taste of the Far East
Tommy Tofu is a terrible name for an interesting dish that takes minutes to make and is a good introduction to the staple of Far Eastern cuisine.
Tofu, also known as soya curd, has extraordinary nutritional benefits. It is rich in both high quality protein and B vitamins, and is an excellent substitute for meat in many vegetarian recipes. As opposed to soya milk, tofu contains a lot of calcium, which originates from nigari, the coagulant used to make it firm. It can contribute to the prevention of osteoporosis.
Tofu is easy to digest and helps reduce heart disease by lowering levels of 'bad' LDL cholesterol. It's rich in isoflavones, which help lower rates of breast and prostate cancer, and reduce menopausal symptoms.
The recipe is taken from Michael van Straten's excellent The Omega-3 Cookbook, published by Kyle Cathie, t16. The author says that the reason tofu isn't more popular in Europe is because few people other than those from China or Japan know how to cook it properly.
Tofu is actually practically tasteless by itself, so it needs strong flavours to make it more exciting to eat. You can either marinate it overnight in a marinade of garlic, ginger and soy sauce, or source it from a oriental supermarket who will have plenty of ready-flavoured tofu.
Chilli oil is sometimes hard to find, but it is very easy to make at home. When small, red hot chillies are easily available in the shops buy a few packets, about 20 chillis, cover them with freshly boiled water, then drain thoroughly.
Leave them to cool, then push them into a large bottle, cover with olive oil and leave at least two weeks before use. This oil is really good too in an arrabiata sauce for pasta.
3 heaped tbsp ketchup
2tbsp soy sauce
2tbsp Worcester sauce
1tbsp hot chilli sauce
1tsp sesame oil
1tbsp rapeseed oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2.5cm ginger, thinly sliced
Handful fresh coriander
225g tofu, cubed
> To make the sauce, mix the ketchup, soy, Worcester sauce, chilli sauce and sesame oil in a bowl. Set aside.
> Heat the rapeseed oil in a wok, add the onions and cook until soft. Add the ginger, tomatoes and coriander. Stir fry for two minutes.
> Pour in the sauce, add the tofu and cook for seven minutes, stirring occasionally.