It’s always a joy cooking for a foodie friend who eats everything and shares a similar enthusiasm for exciting flavours, textures and foods. Said friend is off to pastures new in California so I wanted to prepare a simple and yet interesting lunch that he may not have tried before, but that he was hopefully going to remember fondly.
In the last couple of years my love for tofu has grown exponentially, on average I would say I eat it once a week as a main meal. One of my all time favourite recipes – Ma Po Tofu – I sometimes cook without the pork mince and add loads of spinach to compliment the tofu instead. I would really recommend you give this dish a go if you haven’t already, it’s absolutely superb.
Another dish using tofu, which I discovered more recently, is the one that I want to share with you today. It’s a perfect spring/summer dish bursting with colour and if the truth be told, totally addictive. Between the two of us we almost saw off a portion which Yotam Ottolenghi says ‘serves 6’. I know, I know, it makes us sound rather piggy. Look we were hungry and it is so delicious I bet you too would have seconds or maybe thirds ;o). I think that as a main dish it’s serving is better suited to 4 than 6, unless your guests have sparrow appetites that is!
Don’t be shy, once you’ve cooked it do write a comment below to let me know how you got on and that you too had seconds/thirds.
Soba Noodles with Tofu, Aubergine and Mango
Adapted from Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi
120 ml rice vinegar
40g caster sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1/2 red chilli, finely chopped
1 tsp toasted sesame oil
1 lime, zest and juice
300ml sunflower oil
2 aubergines, cut into 1cm dice
396g firm tofu, cut into small cubes (a little more or less is fine so don’t worry about getting exact amount)
250g soba noodles
2 ripe mangoes, cut into strips or dice
small handful of Thai sweet basil, chopped
handful of fresh coriander, chopped
1 small red onion, finely sliced
1. To prepare the dressing warm the vinegar, sugar and salt in a pan for a minute so that the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the chilli, garlic and sesame oil and leave to cool. Once it is cool add the lime juice and zest.
2. In a frying pan heat up half the sunflower oil and gently fry the aubergine in batches. To save time I cooked the aubergine in two frying pans cooking simultaneously. When they have bronzed place on kitchen paper to cool.
3. Using the remaining sunflower oil (if necessary – you may have enough left from cooking the aubergine!) gently heat up the tofu and cook until it has a crispy light brown appearance. This should take 6-8 minutes. Similar to the aubergine place on some kitchen paper to soak up some of the oil.
4. Heat a pan of boiling salted water and cook the soba noodles for around 5-8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Drain and rinse under cold water, shaking off as much excess water as possible. Place on a tea towel to dry.
5. In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, aubergine, herbs (save a few to scatter on top when serving), red onion and tofu. Transfer to another serving plate/dish. You can eat immediately or set aside for a couple of hours.
The dressing resting whilst I prepare the rest of the ingredients (above)
The final result (below)