I used to hate tofu – which I know is a strong word, but the first time I ate it, it was cooked all wrong. Perhaps it wasn't even cooked at all. Tasteless and rubbery, it was the weirdest thing I'd ever eaten, and I remember wondering why anyone in their right mind would eat it! The next time I tried it, it was very soft and slimy – so that was the end of my tofu-eating days for years to come.
Becoming fully plant-based was a huge turning point when it came to my relationship with tofu, as there was a gap in my diet for something that offered protein, texture and the ability to soak up flavours. I knew that if I was going to continue on my journey to create really tasty plant-based food, I'd have to become reacquainted with it. So reluctantly, I gave it another go...
And today, I can‘t get enough of the stuff! Crispy with salt and pepper, marinated in delicious spices, barbecued to golden perfection, cooked tandoori-style, blended to make quiches and tarts, scrambled... I know now that there are so many ways to enjoy this incredibly versatile food – so long as it's cooked correctly.
If you're as hesitant to embrace tofu as I was, I recommend doing as I did, and taking some time to educate yourself on what you're dealing with – the different types, and how best to prepare, marinate, and cook them. It might also be a good idea to look into the myths surrounding tofu and hormones, which are very easy to bust!
This particular way of cooking tofu is a go-to of mine now, and I use it for Asian salads, to fill summer rolls, and in bánh mì. It's simply marinated in ginger, garlic, tamari, and a little sesame oil, then fried or baked until deliciously crispy on the outside.
Here, I've served it on top of a super-fresh salad of blanched green vegetables, lots of fresh herbs, a little avocado, fresh red chilli and crushed toasted peanuts.
Finally, it's drizzled with the tangiest, most moreish peanut dressing you'll ever eat, which can be used with so many other recipes too – try using it as a dipping sauce, or stirring it through stir fried noodles and vegetables.
For the tofu
1 tbsp grated ginger
1 fat clove garlic, grated
3 tbsp tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
2 x 280g extra firm tofu, diced into 1-inch cubes
2 tbsp light oil, such as groundnut
For the tangy peanut dressing
⅓ cup smooth peanut or almond butter
⅓ cup sweet chilli sauce (or use maple syrup mixed with fresh chilli)
⅓ cup tamari
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tsp grated ginger
Juice of 1-2 limes, depending on size
A good grinding of fresh black pepper
For the salad
4 cups of mixed veg, such as sugar snap peas, broccoli, mange tout, baby corn and broccoli
½ cucumber, peeled into ribbons
2-4 cups of mixed leaves
Large bunch of mixed herbs, such as mint, dill, fennel, coriander and chives
2 avocados, peeled, stoned and sliced
1 red chilli, thinly sliced
1 cup toasted peanuts, roughly crushed
2 tbsp black sesame seeds
2 limes, halved and optionally charred under the grill
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