We have just had an unusually warm snap and having been to the market where there was an abundance of asparagus I used it in this warm salad for an easy weekend lunch. The charred capers were a happy accident caused by me being distracted when cooking the tofu.
I love tofu and eat if every few days, but it took me a while to master tofu, it is worth persevering with and there are a few techniques & tricks for tasty tofu.
Tasty Tofu Tips and Tricks
Tofu by itself is bland and really not that good. It needs marinating and careful cooking. The good news is that it is very very easy to enjoy good tofu. I could write entire posts about tofu, and indeed have made my own, but here is a quick run down.
Tofu, is soy bean curd, basically soy milk cheese.
There are two types of tofu – pressed / regular and silken (unless silken is specified use the regular)
Fresh tofu from a Chinese or Asian shop will taste far far better than longer life packaged tofu from the supermarket. I buy a 800g block for £1.40 in Chinatown.
Tofu needs pressing (to squeeze the water out) and marinating before cooking. To press tofu cut into slices, place between 2 clean tea towels, put a chopping board on top and weigh down with a few cans of beans, cook book, fruit bowl or whatever is to hand. You will soon get an idea of the weight and amount of time needed to press your tofu. Even a 5 minute press will make a dramatic difference.
Freezing and defrosting dramatically changes the texture and character of the tofu, I always freeze supermarket tofu – its gains a spongy and chewier texture making it meatier and generally more liked by tofu phobes. Frozen tofu is generally easier to handle and to cook as it is far firmer.
Tofu is highly nutritious: Weight for weight it contains more protein, less calories & fat than meat or cheese, being a plant food it is also cholesterol free.
Fresh tofu will keep in the fridge for around a week – store it under water changing the water every day.
Asparagus with Fried Tofu and Charred Caper Dressing (Serves 4)
8 slices firm tofu about 1cm thick (pressed for 30 mins)
1 lemon – juiced
Extra virgin olive oil
3 tsp grain dijon mustard (to taste)
Salt and Pepper
2 tbs capers
1 tsp sunflower oil.
2 bunches of baby asparagus.
Green salad – I used baby spinach leaves
Slice and press the tofu as described above and place in a shallow bowl.
Squeeze the lemons and add an equal volume of olive oil, the mustard and salt and pepper, whisk well and pour over the pressed tofu. Marinate for as long as possible (at least 30 mins or overnight)
Meanwhile trim the asparagus and boil for 3 mins until tender, plunge into cold water and drain.
Remover the tofu slices from the marinade (reserving the marinade) fry the tofu over a medium heat in the sunflower oil, for 4 mins each side or until golden, turn the tofu gently, it can soften and be very fragile. . After turning the tofu add the capers to the pan.
Arrange the asparagus on the plates and place the tofu on top, meanwhile turn the heat right up and fry the capers until they start to char. As the tofu sits it will firm up. Scatter the hot charred capers over the warm tofu and asparagus.
The remains of the marinade will make a dressing, either use it cold or pour it over the capers to deglaze the pan if you prefer a warm dressing – both are equally good.
This recipe would work equally well with halloumi (which fries without melting) in place of the tofu or with lime instead of the lemon. Or add some chilli flakes to the marinade.