Tasty Tofu: Tofu and Fresh Herb Dip
By: Rose ElliotAs a Westerner, I hesitate to write about tofu when our Guild includes such eminent and celebrated Asian authors… My own qualification is that I adore the stuff and eat it often. As a vegetarian, I find it a wonderful source of protein, low in fat and carbohydrate, and of course now it’s been shown to have so many health benefits, that’s another incentive to eat it. But actually I’ve always loved it, even in the 1970s when, not living anywhere near an Asian shop, I used to make it at home using soya beans and lemon juice: lots of soaking, grinding and sieving involved.
Fortunately these days there’s plenty of it around, though as with any ingredient, success begins with choosing the right quality. Fresh (vacuum-packed, in water), medium-firm tofu is the type I find most useful and versatile and my favourite is made by Dragonfly. It’s delicate and almost wobbly without being too soft, so it’s a good multi-purpose tofu. Proper health shops and organic places usually stock it or will do so if prompted. Other makes which I’ve found reliable - that is, the tofu is delicate and light - are Clear Spot and Clean Bean, from the same kind of outlets.
Tofu addicts like me will eat a really good tofu straight from the pack - just drained, sliced and sprinkled with salt, freshly ground black pepper and a few drops of green unfiltered olive oil; or drizzled with soy sauce, umeboshi vinegar or a mixture of soy sauce, mirin (or a touch of honey) and a dash of rice vinegar, maybe topped with some furls of pink pickled ginger. Or with some Dijon mustard (or wasabi if you’re really getting into Oriental mode) spread on it. Or some pesto and sliced cherry tomatoes, or black olive pate for a bit of east-meets-west.
But, I digress… For the non-converted, I’ve had the most success by first pumping up the flavour with spicy pastes or marinades (soy sauce, fresh grated ginger and crushed garlic) then dusting it with flour and frying it so that the outside is crisp, as in the recipe below. The Tofu and Fresh Herb Dip is also popular and one of those dishes about which people say ‘mmmm, this is good: what is it?’
I hope you’ll enjoy these recipes. They are adapted from recipes which will appear in Fast, Fresh and Fabulous, Rose Elliot’s New Vegetarian Cookbook, to be published by BBC Books in autumn 2003.
Tofu and fresh herb dip
This tastes rich and creamy, like a dairy-free version of garlic and herb cream cheese but it’s not trying to copy anything, it’s great in its own right. I like to scoop it up with crudites, or heap it up onto organic oatcakes: it makes a very filling snack.
Makes just over 250g (9oz)
250g (9oz) tofu
1 small garlic clove, crushed or grated
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Small handful parsley
1-2 tablespoons chopped chives and other fresh herbs as available: dill, fennel, chervil…
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A little olive oil, to drizzle, if liked
1. Drain the tofu, break it up roughly with your fingers and put it into a food processor with the garlic, mustard, lemon juice and parsley and whizz to a thick green cream, scraping down the sides and re-whizzing as necessary - it’s quite stiff.
2. Stir in the chives and other herbs and season with salt and pepper.
3. Pile onto a serving dish, drizzle with olive oil, grind some more pepper coarsely over the top, and serve.
© Recipe copyright 2003 Rose Elliot