Five-spice smoked tofu nuggets
Tofu has never been my favourite ingredient to be honest but these brilliant smoked tofu 'nuggets' from my friend Elly Curshen's book Let's Eat are positively addictive.
Elly writes: These things are ridiculously delicious and I can't recommend them enough. They're great on the end of skewers and dipped into the satay sauce as party food. But if you don't want to serve this as a canapé the cubes of tofu are delicious on a bed of brown rice with some pok choy and the sauce drizzled over the top. (I actually served it with a crunchy vegetable salad based on the noodle salad in Elly's book. I'm not giving the recipe for that so you have to buy it!)
The tofu you choose is important. You want to look for one that comes as a big, solid, wet cube and nearly always in a cardboard box. The recipe requires this soft, wet kind to create the steam inside the crust that makes it puff up.
Make the dressing first so the nuggets stay nice and crisp.
Note: this recipe contains peanuts
Five-spice smoked tofu nuggets
Makes 8 (although I cut them slightly smaller to make 16. That might serve 4 at a pinch though don't bank on it)
1 x 225g box of smoked tofu
2 tbsp cornflour
¼ tsp Chinese five-spice powder
a large pinch of smoked paprika
300ml vegetable oil
2–4 tbsp Satay Dressing (see below)
flaked sea salt
Lay the block of tofu on a few sheets of kitchen paper. Fold another sheet of kitchen paper and use to press down gently on the top to absorb the moisture.
Cut the tofu up into 8 (or 16) equal-sized cubes. Put the cornflour in a shallow bowl, add the five-spice powder and paprika and mix well. Toss the tofu cubes in the spiced cornflour until they are dusted on all sides.
Pour the vegetable oil into a wok and place over a high heat. Once hot, shake off any excess flour then very carefully lower each nugget into the hot oil using a slotted spoon or tongs. Deep-fry, turning regularly (and very carefully), for 4–5 minutes until all sides are golden brown and crisp. Remove the tofu from the pan using a slotted spoon or tongs and drain on kitchen paper.
Sprinkle the cubes with flaked sea salt while they are still hot – this helps to keep them crispy. Put them on to skewers and serve with the dressing for dipping.
Makes 6 portions
1 tsp light soft brown sugar
2 tsp lime juice
4 tbsp peanut butter (smooth or chunky is fine, and I actually find the cheaper, bog-standard versions work best)
3 tbsp rice wine vinegar
1 tbsp soy sauce
1¼ tbsp vegetable, sunflower or rapeseed oil
1¼ tbsp Sriracha (or more to taste)
2 tbsp sesame oil
Dissolve the sugar in the lime juice, then put it into a blender with all the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth. Taste and adjust as you see fit. That’s it. Once made, it will keep fine in the fridge in a jar for ages.
What to drink
The sauce is more important than the nuggets when it comes to finding a pairing. Winewise I'm thinking an off-dry riesling or young semillon. A medium-dry cider would also be good.
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