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Spicy Tofu with Aromatic Coconut Rice

February 1, 2015

My 5 year anniversary of vegetarianism is approaching and nary a drop of meat has passed my lips in all that time. Not one drop. (Shhh, Christmas chipolata, shhh! It was just ONCE, I was drunk, you were so lonely … ) In that time, my digestive system has improved beyond recognition, my sense of taste has intensified, and I believe I am not only much healthier, but a better, more versatile cook.

And so I believe it is time to tackle my fears. Open my arms to one of my last great mental barriers.

Tofu.

I have always feared tofu. The number of times I’ve truly enjoyed a tofu meal can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Too often it is badly cooked, watery, soft, squidgy, flavourless. On my plate it has slithered and slipped, disintegrated, granulated. In my mouth it has been flaccid and bland. Yes, I have truly experienced some Bad Tofu.

But once in a while – just now and then – it has sung and danced. It has been crispy, aromatic, joyous. It has sat snug amongst noodles, tumbled with rice, made merry with veg. It has been infused with heady flavours – gifts from an imaginative chef – and carried them to every bud.

And so, with great trepidation, I tried my very best to create a dish closer to the latter than the former. I’m delighted to say that, while improvements are always possible – this was pretty damn tasty!

Here’s what I did.

Ingredients (serves 2)

200g Basmati rice

300ml coconut milk (Blue Dragon remains my favourite – no, I’m not endorsed)

Not mine – copyright taste.com.au. Here they’ve added mushrooms, which seems like a great idea to me. Y wouldn’t agree though.

100ml water

2 shallots

3cm fresh ginger, chopped

1/2 tsp turmeric

Sesame oil (or oil of choice)

Pinch salt

225g tofu

1 tsp ground coriander

1 tsp ground cumin

Pinch paprika

Pinch Cayenne pepper (to taste)

Tiny pinch Allspice

Pinch ground ginger

2 tsp palm sugar (or sugar of choice)

1/2 red pepper, chopped quite small

1 x Spring onion

1 x red chilli (optional)

Fresh coriander

Method

For the rice:

1. Fry onions, fresh ginger and turmeric in oil over a medium heat until the onions are soft

2. Add rice & salt. Stir until well coated in the spices

3. Combine coconut milk with water and add to rice mix. Boil for 10 minutes, or until liquid is all absorbed. Then take off the heat and cover for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and add sprigs of fresh coriander just before serving.

For the Tofu:

1. Drain the tofu and cut into 1/2 inch cubes. Press firmly on the tofu until all the liquid is removed.

2. Combine coriander, cumin, paprika, Cayenne, Allspice, ginger and sugar in a bowl. Add the tofu and coat thoroughly

3. Heat 1 tbsp oil in a wok and stir fry the tofu mix for roughly 5 minutes on a medium-high heat. (Usually the higher the better for tofu, but with added sugar there’s a risk of burning so medium is better)

4. Add red pepper, spring onions and red chilli and fry for a further 30 secs

For a spot of poshness I put the rice in an old plastic hummous tub, tamped it down and then upended it on a plate, making a nice rice-dome which you can decorate with coriander leaves. The colourful spiced tofu with red peppers and green spring onions went on the side. It all looked – and smelled – wonderfully fresh and tempting. I’m delighted to say it also tasted great, with the sweet coconut milk brought to zingy life by the tofu spices. (I did add a fair amount of salt to my serving of coconut milk, but I have a salty palate. Y didn’t add any at all.)

As a total aside – this is also an excellent dish if you’re watching the lbs. Tofu is a low calorie and low fat food, with only 171 calories in the 225g of this recipe, and 10.8g of fat. BUT – coconut rice is more problematic. The 300mls in this recipe comes in at 462 calories – 231 each. Add that to 100g of Basmati and we’re looking at 580 calories. So if you’re really keen to drop weight, exchange coconut rice for ordinary Basmati. But still – in total we’re talking somewhere in the region of 700 calories per portion for this recipe. So fill yer boots!

Hope you enjoy it!

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