Another meat-free meal to add to the collection! This time, my challenge was to master tofu. I don’t often eat tofu, I had certainly never cooked with tofu and I was determined to figure it out. So what even actually is tofu, other than white chunks found in Japanese food? You’ll have to humour me here if you’re a tofu master, but as a tofu novice I’ll admit to googling ‘what is tofu made of’. Obviously, it’s soya bean curd. I probably knew that, right?
Anyway, I know a lot more now. One of the reasons I haven’t often dabbled in the world of tofu is that sometimes it can be quite a disappointing experience. No texture, and little taste. So it turns out that there are two smart little tricks to overcome this. First of all, you need to drain all the water out. Pop something heavy on it (my big iron-cast Le Creuset seemed to do the trick), and let all that liquid seep out. Secondly, you need to bake it in the oven to give it a nice crispy texture. The longer you leave it in, the more crunch you get in your final product. After this, you can marinade it and pop it in the frying pan. As often with things that seem shrouded in mystery, the solution is pretty simple. Apologies if I’m preaching to the converted here, it was news to me!
So why bother with all these tricks? Tofu is probably best known as being a good source of protein, which makes it particularly popular for veggies and vegans. Some of the other nutritional benefits include high iron content, calcium, magnesium, copper and zinc. Not only that, but given that it derives from soya beans, it is thought to have some protective benefits against cancer and heart disease. Finally, it also shares some of the health benefits associated with soya beans for that hurdle all of us ladies need to face later on in life. Yes, I’m talking about the menopause! Like soya milk, tofu is thought to help reduce symptoms like hot flushes that are associated with low oestrogen levels. Personally, I’m in my 20s right now and hopefully won’t have that to deal with anytime soon. But as far as all the other stuff goes, sign me up!
I got this recipe from the Minimalist Baker blog, who has a pretty great criteria for recipes: less than 10 ingredients, less than 30 minutes or 1 bowl. The baking time for the tofu means this takes a little longer to make, but actual physical prep time is pretty minimal and its fairly easy! And there are only 9 ingredients. She assures us in her blog post that it keeps in the fridge for 3 days, so I think we should trust her on that one. This serves two, enjoy!
- 1 pack of tofu (396g pack, I used ‘Cauldron Original Tofu’)
- 2 tbsp sesame oil
- 4 tbsp soy sauce
- 3 tbsp of honey or maple syrup (vegan option)
- 2 tbsp almond or peanut butter
- juice of 1/2 lime
- 1 chilli, chopped (or 1 tsp chilli flakes)
- 300g green beans, trimmed
- Cooked rice, to serve (optional)
How to make it…
- Preheat the oven to 200°C/ Gas Mark 6. Wrap the tofu in a clean towel, or in a few sheets of an absorbent kitchen roll. Place something heavy on top, and leave for several minutes to squeeze out all of the moisture.
- Next, discard the excess moisture and chop the tofu into small 1cm cubes. Lay on a lined baking tray and bake in the oven for 30 minutes, or until the edges start to become crispy and golden. If you prefer it a little softer take it out after 25 minutes. Conversely, for a crispier texture leave it in for 35 minutes instead.
- Meanwhile, make the marinade by mixing 1 tbsp of the sesame oil, the honey (or maple syrup), the almond (or peanut) butter, lime juice and chopped chillies (or chilli flakes). Adjust the proportions according to taste if required. You can also use this time to cook your rice according to the packet instructions, if serving it with this.
- When the tofu is ready, remove it from the oven and leave to marinate for 5-10 minutes (you can also do this in advance for a stronger flavour). Leaving most of the marinade in the bowl, remove the tofu and fry in a large wok or frying pan on a high heat for around 5 minutes, or until it starts to brown and the marinade starts to caramelise slightly. Then, remove from the pan and leave to one side.
- Finally, add the remaining 1 tbsp of sesame oil and stir fry the green beens to the pan with the rest of the marinade. Cover, and allow to steam in the marinade for 3-5 minutes, until the beans have softened a little but maintain a bit of a crunch. Then add the tofu back in, stir fry for another 1-2 minutes.
- Serve (with rice), and enjoy!
Based on the Minimalist Baker’s ‘Healthy Almond Butter Tofu Stir Fry’, as can be found here!