As any regular reader will have figured out I am an omnivore when it comes to food. Did it have scales, shells, feathers or a hide before it checked out and landed on my plate? Who cares, as the good news is that it is indeed on my plate! I am equally happy eating vegetarian dishes: there is nothing remotely make-do and mend about aubergines, mushrooms, butternut squashes and those other substantive vegetables that often form the core of a dish as a meat substitute. However, until relatively recently, okay maybe a few years than I care to type for fear of anyone figuring out my age, I was highly suspicious about meat substitutes of the soya bean variety. And whilst I have never given in to the peculiar charms of soya milk, I have fallen in love with Tofu.
Today, to gently convert those who still remain as skeptical as I once was, I present my vegan andall round taste winning Tofu, Spinach and Shitake Mushroom stir-fry. Many years ago, a friend, after eating this dish demanded the recipe and it came in handy when said friend started dating a vegetarian celeb. No it wasn’t a McCartney, although feel free to keep guessing!
Tofu, Spinach and Shitake Mushroom Stir-Fry
Difficulty Factor: Easy-Peasy
1 Block of Tofu (used Cauldron Foods’ block in this instance) 396 grams
200 grams of Spinach leaves
150 grams of Shitake Mushrooms
1 Red Onion roughly chopped
3 cloves of Garlic peeled and chopped roughly
1 head about thumb-sized of Ginger peeled and roughly chopped
3-4 Table spoons of Tamari Soya Sauce
2-3 Table Spoons of Honey
2 Birds Eye Chillies (you can use one if you’re not good with heat)
Stir-fries are all about getting your ingredients prepped together and ready to put in the pan in quick succession so that nothing gets cold. The good news with this particular dish are fancy knife skills are not essential. In fact part of the delish factor comes from there being bold flavours to bite into; from sweet onion to honey and chilli coated tofu that is crisp on the outside and soft in the inside.
Fresh Tofu often comes in liquid, so drain it and cut into one centimetre by two centimetre cuboids. Beware though as if you cut too thin the crisp but soft in the middle texture could be compromised.
Heat the pan as hot as you dare and add a tablespoon of vegetable oil – don’t use Olive Oil as it will overpower the dish and doesn’t traditionally work with Oriental leaning flavours. Add your Tofu pieces to the pan and liberally douse with the Tamari Soya Sauce. Warning: the pan will go mental and there will be lots of hissing and spitting but this is how you get the crisp whilst soft in the middle element.
Move the tofu for about a couple of minutes and then reduce the heat before adding the honey and the chilli. Cook this for a minute or two or until the tofu begins to take the colour and remove from heat and put aside in a bowl.
Now onto the other vegetables: Heat a pan or wok and fry the onions until they soften adding the garlic and ginger later so as not to burn.
Next add the mushrooms for a minute and last the spinach.
I am a big fan of NEVER overcooking vegetables. Who needs a miserable reminder of school dinners with the vegetables cooked to oblivion and double maths for afters? Once everything has come together remove from heat and assemble.
I tend to serve this dish with rice, but it works equally well with rice noodles or if you are having a no-carb moment on its own. Who knew no meat could taste so good eh?