Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Guest Chef Pete Blake: Tofu & Rice

It's not difficult to notice that here in Australia we have openly embraced Chinese cuisine, well the style we find in our Chinese restaurants anyway. Chinese takeaway is a staple of our mutli-cultural cuisine. Certainly as a Caucasian growing up in Australia it has coloured many of my childhood dining-out memories.

In my life I have a developed a real appreciation of the aesthetic found in many Asian cultures - from the art and crafts, to the spiritualities and philosophies, to the martial arts, to the vibrant and colourful celebrations and the wonderful food that always plays a part in these.

I can spend quite a time wandering through a Chinese grocery store, discovering an array of items to try, often wonderful and sometimes seemingly weird. As a vegan there are always lots of things to experiment with and with such a strong Buddhist influence found within many of the Asian cultures there are usually various varieties of mock meats to cook with.

Quite commonly found within Asian cuisines is tofu. For me it's a staple of my diet, I love it and find it versatile to cook with, and it's also packed with protein. For the first time user it can seem daunting and for some people it seems to be either a love or hate experience. Often it's because of the texture. One of the tricks to using tofu is changing this texture, and in doing so it changes its ability to being able to really soak up the flavours it's paired with.

The trick is to freeze your firm tofu, then defrost it. Once it's completely defrosted you can either gently press it, which can be done by placing it between two cutting boards and gently pressing down, or simply squeezing it, and doing this until all the water within the tofu is released. This then leaves you with a tofu that will readily absorb flavours into those air bubble like pockets where the water once was.

So with Chinese New Year upon us I thought I would offer a Chinese inspired recipe that I love to make from time to time. There are a few steps, and it needs some preparation time, but they're all easy and even a beginner could master this recipe.

Chinese inspired Tofu and Rice, with braised Asian Greens and Crispy Beancurd 
Serves 2 to 4

-1 x 450gm pack of firm Organic Tofu.
-2 Lengths of dried Bean Curd sticks, broken into lengths (found in Asian Grocers).
-2 Cups of water.
-2 Tablespoons of Chinese cooking rice wine.
-2 Tablespoons of Soy Sauce.
-2 Teaspoons of crushed Ginger.
-1 Teaspoon of crushed Garlic.
-2 Spring Onions chopped into inch long pieces.
-2 Teaspoons of a dried vegan Chicken-Style Stock Powder (I use Massel).
-Asian Greens of choice.
-A long grain style of Rice (enough to give everyone a cup of cooked rice).

For the best results freeze, defrost and press your tofu.

Cut the tofu into serve-able size pieces.

In a bowl combine the water, rice wine, soy sauce, ginger, garlic and the spring onions. Then into this place the pieces of tofu and the lengths of bean curd and marinade for at least 2 hours.

Clean and prepare your Asian greens. Place these in a frypan and get a light colouring onto them.

Next pour you marinade and the spring onions into the pan of Asian greens, gently stir in the stock powder and cover, simmer gently until cooked.

While the greens are simmering place the soaked dried beancurd into an airfryer on high for about 10 minutes, or onto a lined baking tray, until starting to colour and they are crispy.

As both these processes are happening put your tofu onto either a frypan or in the oven and cook until it begins to get a light colouring also.

Once these are all ready place a cup of rice onto each plate, with a serve of greens and tofu. You can spoon a little of the braising liquid over the greens and tofu, along with some chilli and some darker soy sauce. To garnish add the crispy bean curd, the slices of cucumber and salad veg like shredded cabbage and beanshoots.


#Chinesenewyear #vegan #healthycooking #recipe


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