I’ve been a neglectful blogger, I know.. you see, I’m going on a big holiday across the bottom of Africa in just over a week and that’s consumed my every moment this last month – I’m an over-the-top planner when … Continue reading
I left Canberra on Friday and headed up to the coast for a ‘hens’ celebration for a girlfriend who is getting married in two weeks. The weather was a scorching 38 degrees, so it was so nice to be by … Continue reading
I love wholefood shops, I lose myself in the shelves of little bags of feel-good nuts and vials of exotic ointments. I’m a sucker for the jargon-filled health food labels. Yeats, your poetry will not melt my heart, but whisper me sweet nothings like “a nutritious, all natural, high-protein, ancient grain” and I’m yours, body and soul.
In true form, I walked out of a wholefood shop last Saturday with a bag of amaranth. Now I dont actually know what to do with it….
According to the label, amaranth, like quinoa, is a high-protein gluten-free crop that lowers-cholesterol and is packed with lots of vitamins, minerals and healthy fats.
A bit of google-magic has told me amaranth means “unfading” and was a major food crop of the Aztecs. To the ancient Greeks, the amaranth was a symbol for immortality. They made crowns from it, since they believed that anyone who wore such a crown would gain fame and fortune. Inspiring stuff.
Despite the googling, I still don’t know how to cook it, and I’m a bit scared I’ll choose the one un-yummy way to try it out…
I’ve always loved parsnips roasted to a crisp ,or mashed up as a healthy alternative to potatoes. But this very versatile and sweet root vegetable is also a killer cake ingredient. Who knew? During World War 2, when fresh fruit … Continue reading
The moment I walked into the market I saw these adorable mini Lebanese zucchinis and just knew I had to buy them. Lebanese zucchinis taste much like normal green zucchini; and as with green and yellow types, they can be cut … Continue reading
I’ve found that tofu is one of those controversial foods that generates mixed feelings amongst people, and I must confess I often dont enjoy eating it at restaurants – there seems to be an overwhelming occurrence of tasteless rubbery tofu thrown into takeout pad thai, or silken tofu sitting in a bath of gluggy sauce.
For me, growing up, tofu was deliciously deep-fried at yumcha on Sundays or served up super spicy at home. Mum always said tofu is best if its really chilli-hot, and she’s right. But for some reason, no matter how much I try, I just cant recreate mum’s recipe. I guess you cant recreate your favourite tastes of childhood.
Instead, I’ve been working on my vegetarian Ma La Tofu (má là meaning numbing and spicy).
Ma La Tofu is a punchy and exciting dish due to the chilli bean paste, chillies, and Sichuan pepper powder. I find its a great mid week meal as its quick to throw together and always hits the spot after a long day at work.
Below is my adaptation. The fried tofu is a bit naughty, but lends a great texture in the absence of meat. I personally tend not to use corn flour as I hate the gluggy texture that often comes with using it.
vegan mala tofu
- 250g silken tofu, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 100g fried tofu, cut into tiny cubes (can be found in the frozen food section of most Asian Grocery stores)/
- 4 tbs peanut oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
- 2 tbs chilli bean sauce (this is chilli and fermented beans, commonly found in Asian Grocery stores)
- 1 tbs blackbean sauce/paste
- 1 tsp Sichuan pepper powder
- 1 cup stock (I use salt reduced, or it ends up too salty)
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbs light soy sauce
- 3 spring onions, chopped
- fresh chillies or dried chillies to taste.
a dash of cornflour and water if needed to thicken. Use two parts cornflour to one part water.
- Fill a bowl with boiling water and slide in the silken tofu. This allows the tofu to be gently warmed.
- Heat half the oil (2 tbs) in a wok over high heat.
- Add the firm tofu and stirfry until nice and crispy.
- Reduce the heat to medium and add the minced garlic and ginger. Add fresh chilli if using it. Stirfry until fragrant.
- Push everything to one side. Add the rest of the oil, the chili bean paste, blackbean paste and sichuan pepper. Stirfry until the oil is a deep red. Be careful as the mixture is likely to spit.
- Pour in the stock, sugar and soy sauce. Stir well.
- Carefully drain the warmed silken tofu. Slide the tofu into the sauce.
- Simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.
- If needed, add the cornflour and water mix to thicken the sauce.
Note: Silken tofu breaks very easily so be gentle with your stirring.
Serve with rice topped with the spring onion, alongside your favourite asian greens.