Sunday, August 08, 2010

The Best Tofu

Have I mentioned my deep, deep love of all things Ottolenghi? Oh. I have. Here's more gushing...

Last night I made the most delicious, spiciest and awesomest tofu we have ever eaten at home. Possibly eaten anywhere.

I'm not a huge tofu fan. Without adequate love and care it mostly tastes of slime, gray and nothing. Not appetising. And I know plenty of people who think it's gross, end point. If that's your starting point I dare you to make Ottolenghi's Black Pepper Tofu. It's so damn delicious. The tofu, dusted with corn flour and fried so it developes a lovely crust and great texture, then the sauce it gets coated in is a silly savory dream of flavour, with killer spice, chili and, you guessed it, black pepper. So so so delicious.

Yotam's recipe is on the Guardian website. You can start there, or you can work from my changes. Mine was killer hot. If you follow Yotam's it might be assasination in the dead of night hot. Just saying...

Black Pepper Tofu

Prep and Sauce

80g butter (this is half what Yotam uses but was fine, I rarely shy away from excessive amounts of butter but come on- you always realise how MUCH butter you actually use when you weigh, plus I needed some for cookies)
12 small shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
12 garlic cloves, crushed
3 red chillies, thinly sliced (Yotam called for 8 mild ones. How do you check how hot they are? Take a bite? I opted for less, just to be safe. Turns out that was wise. Eight of these babies and it would have been inedible.)
About two inches of ginger, chopped into tiny pieces

Melt the butter in your saute pan and add the flavours. Let them melt into each other until nice and soft, about 15 minutes.


Tofu Prep

600g firm, fresh tofu - because that's the size it came in
Cornflour for dusting, and playing with water in afterwards
Vegetable oil, for frying

Cut your tofu into small blocks and dust with cornflour, shaking off any excess. Heat up the oil, not too much, and fry your tofu into cubes of golden, crusty deliciousness. You'll probably need to do this in batches. This is dangerous and involves much spitting hot oil. Set aside to drain and continue on with your sauce.

Finishing the sauce

3 tbsp sweet soy sauce (called kecap manis, it's sometimes referred to as Indonesian ketchup. It was a bit tough to find, if you can't get it you could substitute soy sauce with some molasses or palm sugar in it...)
3 tbsp light soy sauce
4 tsp light soy sauce (yes there are two entries for light soy sauce. This one was supposed to be dark soy sauce but I got confused and bought another giant bottle of light soy sauce instead of dark. Oops. Anybody need to borrow some soy sauce?)

Let the soy sauce dissolve into the garlic and butter- it should get silky and shiny looking.

Now. Add your coarsely crushed peppercorns. Yotam called for FIVE tablespoons. I used three. Again, killer hot.

Once the sauce is combined add your crusty tofu and let it warm up and get enveloped in the shiny sauce. Add a bunch of green/spring onions, thinly sliced and serve with copious amounts of rice, to balance the heat.

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