JAPANESE TOFU & CAULI RICE SALAD

I thought tofu was a cheese.

Yes reader. Every time I saw a picture of tofu I always figured it was a form of feta or something, just a cold, hard block of cheese and never really paid much attention to it. It was only when a fabulous veggie friend of mine explained tofu to me that I thought I could give it a go.

He explained to me that it’s basically a form of soya, made from curdling soya milk. So I wasn’t far off the cheese track – same method I guess – but where tofu stands and cheese falls is that it’s extremely durable under the attack of heat. He told me it was an amazing source of protein and contains all the iron, calcium and vitamins you need.

Great. But how does it taste?

Bland, if I’m honest. I tried a piece of it without any seasoning or preparation and was much underwhelmed, but of course a piece of pasta tastes dire until you DO something with it. I looked into tofu a little more and found it originated in China so I decided to be culturally respectful and create a Chinese inspired dish to compliment the tofu.

But as always, my Kitchen took a sharp turn and I found myself somewhere in the middle of Japan with my salad dressing with no idea how I got there. So, with no disrespect intended at all, I have merged together a Chinese ingredient with some Japanese influenced ingredient to bring you my healthy salad packed with all the nutrients that sound good and like you need them.

But more so than that, it’s delicious.

I also went for baby gem lettuce here because I then could use them as little boats (or ‘taco shells’, for those that want a more accurate visual) allowing me to have all three aspects (rice, leaf and tofu) in each bite.

So it’s a Chinese ingredient cooked with a Japanese dressing combined with a Western take on alternative rice but eaten like a taco.

This blog will never cease to amuse me.

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Preheat the oven to 180C. Break up a head of cauliflower into small bite size chunks. Toss into a food processor and blitz down to resemble rice particles. You may want to do this in batches so that each piece has enough room to break down. Pour your cauliflower into a roasting tin, season with salt and pepper before sliding in the oven for 30 minutes.

In a small jug, combine the juice of a lime, a quick splash of dark soy sauce, a pinch of brown sugar, a grating of fresh ginger, some sesame oil and a tablespoon of tomato puree. Mix this together with a fork and leave to one side.

Get yourself a box of firm tofu – you can find it in ASDA very easily near all the seasoning. Slice the tofu (it will feel really weird in your hands but strangely enjoyable?) into small chunks/cubes. When you’re about 5 minutes from the rice’s finished cooking time, in a large wok, heat up a little coconut oil. Place your tofu cubes in the pan and allow to cook and firm on the one side (should take no more than a minute or so).

Now start tossing the tofu around so that it has a chance to catch and cook on all sides (like dice cubes). After about a minute or so of this, pour in your Japanese dressing. Once the cubes are coating in the dressing. Cook for another minute or so before removing from the heat. Remove your cauli rice from the oven. Assemble some salad leaves on a plate (I went for baby gem), add your cauli rice and adorn with the tofu. Sprinkle over some sesame seeds and serve.

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