Would you believe it’s been a gloriously sunny today? That’s right, actual sunshine. Not warm, but sun all the same. Blue skies. A light breeze (though, wearing a flippy skirt was not a wise move)…all that jazz. Considering it’s first day back at university, it’s nice to have some brightness in the world. Lectures…what were those again? In all honesty it’s good to slide back into days that have some form of structure. Days, that no longer meld effortlessly into the next, into one big blob of ‘what did I even do/accomplish in that time?’. Deadlines aren’t all that bad. Truly. To celebrate the impromptu burst of spring weather – there are even, shockingly, yellow daffodils blooming in the grounds – we’ve got a light refreshing meal on the cards. ‘Vegetable and Tofu Bowl’ may sound less than appetising, but trust me on this one. Go on, I dare you.
Characterised by simplicity – simple flavours and simple preparation (on the table in under 20 minutes)– it still provides a burst of fresh flavour. Sesame oil gives a subtle nutty undertone, whilst the kecap manis covers your sweet/salty bases. The typical sea salt/freshly ground black pepper combo is in there, not so much to mask dull/unpleasant flavours, but to actually draw that from the vegetables out. To let them shine. Shine like the sunshine (hmm perhaps this drastic change from weeks of rain/wind/grey skies has gone to my head a little). Wouldn’t be surprised. Regardless, spicy rocket, sweet capsicum, earthy mushrooms…what more could you want?
Textures abound, with tender strips of field mushrooms, a satisfying crunch from the snow peas and shavings of sweet potato that melt away in your mouth. The tofu is crispy, yes actually crispy. No limp, soggy bits of bean curd around here. I prefer to use a firm tofu that is pre-marinated for a little extra flavour (that of the honey-soy variety is especially tasty in this dish), however it is in no way necessary. Somehow the marinade helps speed up the ‘crisping’ process. Don’t ask me how. That’s science. I don’t do science. Tearing the tofu, rather than chopping it into even pieces also helps. And you can’t deny that ripping up tofu is far more fun than the conventional slice, slice, slice.
With plenty of veg, this is a meal that you can’t help but feel virtuous for consuming. If you feel like mixing things up, try adding a splash more kecap manis, some freshly grated ginger, chopped roasted cashews or even a drop or two of tobasco. I like to serve it as is, without rice or noodles, as an easy lunch or light dinner. However, if you fancy a more substantial meal then by all means add your carbohydrate of choice!
Vegetable Tofu Bowl
Serves one hungry person or two not so hungry people.
3 tbsp sesame oil
200g firm, marinated tofu, torn into 1 to 2cm sized pieces
200g field mushrooms (about 4 small), cut into ½ cm thick slices
100g sweet potato, peeled and then the flesh peeled into thin strips
Small red or yellow capsicum, deseeded and cut into ½ cm thick slices
150g snow peas or sugar snap peas, topped and tailed
75g rocket or baby spinach
1 tbsp kecap manis
Freshly ground black pepper
Place a large frying pan over medium to high heat and add 2 tablespoons of the sesame oil. When shimmering add the tofu and cooking, stirring regularly for 2 minutes or until the edges of the tofu begin to go crispy. Transfer to a plate or bowl.
Add the remaining tablespoon of sesame oil to the pan. Once warmed, add the mushrooms, sweet potato and capsicum. Stir well and cook for 3 minutes or until the mushrooms begin to release their juices. Add the snowpeas and cook for a further two minutes. Then add the rocket/spinach and cook, stirring regularly until just wilted.
Throw the tofu back in and drizzle over the kecap manis. Season well with salt and pepper. Serve immediately in bowls, with brown rice or noodles if you fancy a more substantial meal.
Source: A Taste Without Waste original.