I admit that I’ve been very rude about Tofu in the past, so posting a recipe where it’s a main ingredient may seem a little odd. The jury is still out on whether I personally like it but I am certain that I don’t hate it. Hardly a ringing endorsement, I admit, but there’s a part of me that can’t help but think that with the right recipe it could be delicious. This Yasai Cha Han comes close and if you like tofu then I think it’s a winner. If, like Michael and me, you’re on the fence then it still makes for a very tasty bowl of food.
The determination to “get tofu right” comes from the fact that like many people I would like to reduce the amount of meat in my diet. It’s the right thing to do for the environment and it’s probably the right thing to do for my health. I have no plans to cut it out entirely, just make a few little changes here and there. That also means not replacing meat with dairy products – which are just as bad on both counts. Of the plant-based alternatives I’ve tried I think that tofu is one of the least offensive and probably the most versatile.
I also find that Asian-inspired recipes are a good place to start when experimenting. Let’s face it, as soon as you start to heat East, in the culinary sense at least, it doesn’t take long for bean curd to rear its head. With that in mind adding some to this fried vegetable and rice dish makes a lot of sense. You get a great combination of texture and flavour here and it’s another recipe that’s little more than chopping and stirring.
Frying the tofu in advance to make it a little crunchy helps it assert itself in the final dish. As does quickly frying the vegetables to keep them crisp. When they’re brought together with the soy sauce and rice the end result is flavoursome and very filling. I also like to add some beaten egg but if you want to keep things vegan you can miss out that step.
If you’re not a fan of tofu and it remains a bit of an alien ingredient in your kitchen then do give this recipe a go. The soft-yet-crunchy tofu is a great companion to the other ingredients. If this doesn’t convince you don’t give up. The right recipe for you is out there…
Yasai Cha Han
- 150 g Thai Jasmine Rice
- 2 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 200 g Firm Tofu drained and cut into 2cm cubes
- ½ Red Pepper cut into 1cm chunks
- 50 g Edamame Soya Beans
- 50 g Mange Tout or Sugar Snap Peas halved
- 50 g Baby Sweetcorn cut into thick discs
- 2 Spring Onions cut into 2cm lengths
- 3 tbsp Light Soy Sauce
- 1 tsp Sesame Oil
- 2 large Eggs beaten
- Small Handful Coriander to garnish
- Start by cooking the rice as per the packet instructions, though you will need to reduce the cooking time by a minute or so as you will be cooking the rice again in a minute. When cooked, drain well and put to one side.
- Heat a large frying pan or wok over a medium heat until almost smoking. Add in the oil, followed by the tofu and stir fry for 5-6 minutes until it’s slightly golden all over. Remove from the pan and drain on kitchen paper.
- Add the sliced shallot to the pan and stir fry for a minute or two. Add in the red pepper and cook for a further 2 minutes, before adding in the remaining vegetables. Stir fry until warmed through, yet still crisp, then add the tofu back to the pan and mix well.
- Add in the cooked rice, followed by the sesame oil and soy sauce. Stir fry for a further 2 minutes ensuring everything is well coated with the sauce and hot through.
- Add the beaten eggs then stir through the rice. Remove from the heat and continue to stir – the eggs will cook in the residual heat from the pan. Serve immediately, garnished with the coriander.