VEGAN GARLIC TOFU WITH RICE NOODLES
- Soft tofu – I used half a block of unseasoned Cauldron tofu, which served one adequately
- Onion – I used brown, but either would work well
- Dried chili
- Vegetable stock cube
- Rice noodles
Tofu was always going to be a difficult one. I’ve had it before, but it always seemed to taste a little like sponge, and so I was slightly nervous about making it and having it for dinner. I decided to use this particular recipe, because on the website it advocated that everyone who had eaten this had requested the recipe afterwards, and I thought that considering my apprehension this was probably quite a good sign. One of the main selling points of the tofu I used was the fact that it was extremely good at taking on other flavours – this was exactly my problem. Bearing this, and the fact that the tofu was unseasoned, in mind, I used strong flavourings – garlic, ginger and chili. I know this combination works really well with stir-fry types of dishes and so I was sure that it would produce a flavoursome dish. The pieces of tofu, which were well covered in the seasoning, were enjoyable: the tofu was soft, and fell apart like tender meat, and the flavours were extremely complimentary, yet not overpowering. These pieces I enjoyed. However, the pieces of tofu that did not have the chance to soak up the flavourings were bland – the softness of the tofu was suddenly something no longer to be commended, and I did not enjoy eating it.
This problem, I think, would be easily solved: having all the tofu covered in the seasoning would result in a wholly enjoyable meal, rather than some parts being better than others. When I was cooking the tofu in the frying pan I found it difficult to coat them in the seasoning without it falling apart – I think I would remedy this by creating a “rub”, instead of making the seasoning in the pan. In mixing the seasoning, garlic and onion together in a bowl with a little oil, it would make the perfect consistency to rub over the tofu before frying it, allowing it ample time to soak up the flavours evenly.
I served the tofu with rice noodles because they, like the tofu, are vegan. They came seasoned in rapeseed oil, and so once the tofu was cooked I transferred it from the pan to a dish to keep warm in the oven and cooked the noodles in the pan, allowing them to soak up the flavours. Much like the tofu, their own flavouring was extremely bland, and clearly relied heavily on other flavourings. This would be a good attribute if the noodles were to be served with a particularly strong main component; for this dish, I felt they were slightly unsuitable.
This dish was not a bad one, but I think it was not as enjoyable as the meals of the two previous nights have been. I think changing the method of seasoning would improve it greatly, and I would research into other accompaniments to prevent having two components that rely on complementing strong flavours, when neither are individually highly flavoured.
- Take the tofu from the packet, wrap well in kitchen towel and place between two chopping boards to extract any extra and unnecessary dampness. When sufficiently ‘dry’, chop into slices, roughly 1cm thick.
- At this point, I am going to suggest that you make the seasoning into a rub to prevent some pieces being more flavoursome than others (the original use of seasoning will be listed below should you want to follow it). Take a small bowl, and add half a crushed vegetable stock cube, dried chili and ginger; add a small amount of oil and mix well.
- Drizzle this over the tofu slices and leave to absorb.
- Meanwhile, dice the onion and finely chop the garlic. Heat some olive oil in a reasonably sized frying pan over a low heat, and lightly fry the onion and garlic.
- If you want to follow the original recipe, here add the unseasoned tofu to the pan, and season with black pepper, ginger, dried chilies and a vegetable stock cube. Cook for 5 minutes and then turn the tofu; cook for 5 minutes more until golden brown If you want to follow the changed recipe using the rub, add the tofu to the pan and cook for 5 minutes either side, until golden brown at the edges.
- Transfer the tofu to an oven-proof dish and place under a low grill setting or in the cooler section of an AGA to keep warm
- Place the rice noodles in the frying pan and cook for 3 minutes (or according to packet instructions) until warm.
- Plate up the noodles. Remove the tofu from the grill/AGA and nestle on top; season and serve