Soak it all in: Bill Granger cooks with tofu
Yes, tofu's bland. And that's its greatest asset, as it will assimilate whatever tastes you want, without ever losing its silken delicacy, says our chef.
Sunday 14 July 2013
You'd think that being a great lover of everything spicy would mean I'd have little time for tofu. Quite the opposite, actually. I've become obsessed by its silky texture and, well, blandness. Mostly I love the way it soaks up the flavour of whatever you throw at it, which in my case is invariably something full of heat.
Like Vegemite and Marmite, tofu is a love-or-hate thing here in the West, but it doesn't divide people quite as much in the East. Maybe it's because they understand how versatile it is, or because they don't necessarily think of it as an alternative to meat. These three recipes are part of my mission to convince the world how wonderful tofu is – delicate when you want it to be, but just as comfortable in fiery company.
Bill's restaurant, Granger & Co, is at 75 Westbourne Grove, London W11, tel: 020 7229 9111, grangerandco.com
Braised pork mince and tofu
True comfort food – traditionally you'd use less pork, but this is the perfect balance for me.
2 tbsp light-flavoured oil
400g/13oz pork mince
3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
3cm ginger, peeled and shredded
3 tbsp chilli-bean sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
150ml/¼ pint good-quality chicken stock
2 tbsp Shaoxing wine
450g/14½oz pack firm silken tofu, cubed
½ tsp sesame oil
Chilli oil (optional)
1 tsp toasted Sichuan peppercorns, crushed
4 spring onions, sliced
Steamed white rice, to serve
Heat the oil in a large wok or large frying pan, add the mince and stir-fry over a high heat until it k is no longer pink. Add the garlic and ginger and, once the meat is golden-brown and fragrant, stir in the chilli-bean sauce and cook for another minute.
Pour in the soy sauce, stock and Shaoxing wine. Bring to the boil then gently fold in the tofu and simmer gently for 2 minutes. Add the sesame oil, chilli oil to taste and scatter with the crushed Sichuan peppercorns and spring onions. Serve with steamed rice.
Aubergine and tofu laksa
Sunday tends to be soup night at my house, especially if we've had a big Sunday lunch.
1 tbsp light-flavoured oil
400g/13oz firm silken tofu
1 tbsp red curry paste
1 litre/1¾ pints chicken stock
150ml/¼ pint coconut milk
2 kaffir-lime leaves
3cm fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
1 large aubergine, cut into chunks
Soft brown sugar and lime juice, to taste
150g/5oz rice noodles, soaked in hot water and drained
Handful coriander leaves
Handful mint leaves
Handful basil leaves
Handful bean sprouts
Heat the oil in a large saucepan over a high heat. Fry the tofu on all sides, remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes, or until fragrant. Add the stock, coconut milk, kaffir-lime leaves and ginger.
Increase the heat to high and bring to the boil. Then reduce the heat, add the aubergine and simmer gently for 8 to 10 minutes, or until just cooked through. Add the tofu, simmer for 2 minutes then season the soup with the brown sugar and lime juice, to taste. Divide the rice noodles among four large bowls. Top with the herbs and bean sprouts then pour in the hot soup and serve.
Tofu omelettes with tenderstem broccoli
We keep a packet or two of tofu in the fridge, so we can throw these together at a moment's notice. I like to think of this as my healthy version of fast food.
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 garlic clove, crushed
2cm ginger, peeled and grated
8 spring onions, sliced
400g/13oz firm silken tofu, crumbled
Light-flavoured oil for frying
For the broccoli
1 tbsp light-flavoured oil
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 red chilli, chopped
400g/13oz tenderstem broccoli, trimmed
3 tbsp chicken stock or water
For the omelettes, mix the eggs, garlic, ginger and spring onions with some sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Fold through the tofu. Heat a little oil in a large, non-stick frying pan, ladle in tablespoons of the omelette mix, and cook for 2 minutes on each side. Keep warm.
For the broccoli, heat a wok or large frying pan over a high heat. Add the oil and use to stir-fry the garlic and chilli for 30 seconds. Add the broccoli and cook, stirring, for 1 to 2 minutes. Pour in the stock or water and stir-fry for another minute, or until just tender. Serve with the tofu omelettes and some Asian chilli sauce, if you like.
Food preparation: Marina Filippelli and Rosie Reynolds; Props merchandising: Rachel Jukes
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