Posts Tagged With: tofu

Visiting Tofu Village – Yogyakarta, Indonesia

The load, hot and crispy end of the kitchen

The load, hot and crispy end of the kitchen – Tofu Village

Jane and I are not fans of tour groups so we jumped on a motorbike and headed out into the countryside around Yogyakarta.  We’d been reliably informed that there would be huge ancient religious monuments, something like the grandeur of Angkhor Wat, and no shortage of tofu (tahu) making villages.  We were ready for some great times, lumps of tofu and stunning temples sounded like a decent way to pass a day.

This southern area is known as the garden of Java. Incredibly fertile and beautiful, lush countryside

This southern area is known as the garden of Java. Incredibly fertile and beautiful, lush countryside

We zig zagged and bounced our way out of Yogkakarta in the early morning, traffic flowing like a crazy vein of buzzing scooters making erratic patterns on rutted tarmac tracks.  We made it to the greener surrounds and went off piste down little tracks lined with rice paddies and folk thrashing their harvest by hand.  The countryside was breathtaking and so very fertile.  After the polluted city, the fresh air and open skies were a delight.

We began to follow our noses, asking the wonderful people of Java for tips and signals.  Many people understand English in Indonesia and they are so very kind hearted.  One chap hopped on his bike and led us over awesome off road terrain to a little village where an old lady was sat on a terrace.  ‘Tahu!’ he excitedly exclaimed and we knew we’d hit our plant-based jackpot.

Firstly - Cook the ground beans and add coagulant

Firstly – Cook the ground beans and add coagulant (great word!)

Tahu (tofu) is a staple in Indonesia, as well as Tempeh (more to come of that in following posts).  Many people in the countryside cannot afford to eat meat regularly and it seems that tofu and tempeh fills the gap.  Indonesians love it and it is available everywhere, mostly in little stalls selling it as a deep fried snack with a cup of Jasmine green tea.  We’ve so far eaten it many ways and have gobbled them all with glee.  The tofu is generally given a quick fry in coconut oil before being re-cooked and the tempeh is regularly served after being simmered with cane sugar.  Sticky and sweet.  In many ways, eating tempeh and tofu in Indonesia is a little like eating Focaccia and Pasta in Italy, this is it’s land.  Where it is from.  There is something intangible there that cannot be recreated.

Put into moulds, then leave to dry on racks

Put into moulds, then leave to dry on racks

The tofu kitchen was actually a mini countryside production plant.  Generations of the family were lending a hand as Grandmother supervised.  For those who know the process of tofu making, it is the same as you’d do at home, just a larger scale.  They made what we’d call ‘firm’ tofu in the UK and sold it straight up cubed or gave big chunks a couple of minutes in very hot coconut oil to crisp up and then stored the finished tofu in water.  All of the heat used was via wooden braziers, the frying pan was heated using a large pile of wood chips.  Very, very hot work but the aromas were a delight.

Chop it up (Jane slightly assisting)

Chop it up (Jane slightly assisting)

The family didn’t speak English and were a little shy.  Our two scrumbled pages of Indonesian and a few sentences got us somewhere, but two big gangly exciteable tourists poking about your work place is generally a little unsettling.  They were absolutely lovely and we got to taste the tofu at each process and it was excellent, as you’d expect.  One thing that I did find surprising is that the soya beans used were from the USA.   I know that the US grows vast quantities of soya beans to feed their insatiable appetite for beef, but I did not imagine that some of it would be feeding the people of Java!  I can only imagine that its cheaper than local soya beans which just seems bizarre, but understandable with our current methods of food production and distribution.  Organic tofu this was not!  Otherwise, this method of making curd from warmed bean milk is completely genius and has long been established (Han Dynasty, China, over 2000 years ago) as a vital way to get nutritious, protein-rich food into diets.  It’s also utterly lovely stuff.

Bubble, bubble......man, this pan was smokin'

Bubble, bubble……man, this pan was smokin’

This was our first time seeing tofu being made in a traditional way and the family had been making the local villages tofu for generations.  It is such a privelege to be able to travel and investigate the food that we love.  Our connection with and understanding of what we are eating grows and we can find new found enjoyment in the wonders of global cuisine.  We’ll never look at a lump of tofu the same again!

PS – We’d love to tell you the name of the tofu village, but we were scooting all over the place and had no idea where we really were.  It’s our little secret, somewhere near Karang.  We’d also just had a jug of thick black coffee from Papua New Guinea which gave us some kind of joy jitters; laughing, jabbering, sweating, dazed, frantic, dry mouth……you know how that goes.

All wood fired in these parts

All wood fired in these parts

Categories: healthy, photography, Travel, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Creamy Tofu and Olive Dip (Vegan)

Tofu and Olive Dip

Tofu and Olive Dip

HAPPY EASTER Y’ALL!x

Easter is all about family, Mum’s here and we’ve been doing some celebrating.  It seems nowadays that no party is complete without a stonking dip to showcase (or is that just me!)  Dips act as the perfect accompaniment to pre-meal nattering and decadent snacking antics.

This is a very creamy/ cheesy tasting dip without the cheese.  I think its the olives and tofu that combine to form an unusual vegan cheesiness.  It is rich and like all dips, superbly versatile.  Spread it on things, dip things in it, eat it by the spoonful, anyway you enjoy this is just fine.

Making our own tofu appeals, but we hear it can be a pain.  Here is an interesting little clip that has inspired us and simplified things greatly:

We are moving back to our vegan ways, little by little and this kind of vegan dip leaves us with plenty of dairy space to get stuck into your creme eggs and Eater bounty.  Mum even made Jane and I an egg this year, what a talented creature!  Its chocolate and ginger and will definitely not be seeing the light of Easter Monday.  YUM.

I’ve put one clove of garlic down here, but we actually had two as we are full-on garlic fiends.  One is erring on the side of normality.

This can be thinned down by adding a cup of water, or oil, depending on your persuasion, to make a nice thick salad dressing.

Happy dipping!

The Bits

250g firm tofu, 1 cup green olives (pitted), 1 lemon (juice and zest), 1 clove garlic (crushed), 1 handful mint leaves, 1 handful basil leaves, sea salt and cracked pepper to taste, dash of fruity olive oil

Do It

Pop all ingredients in a blender and blitz until smooth.

Serve

We added it to a salad, adding nice creaminess and have also dunked wedges of carrots in with gusto.

We Love It!

All the cheesiness without the dairy bits that can get heavy and a little unhealthy after a while.  A pleasant change and very quick to get together, for all your impromptu party dip needs!

Tofu in all its glory

Foodie Fact

Tofu is a magic food with a bad rep due to tiresome jokes about vegetarian hippies and the like.  It is an acquired taste to some, but adds a great texture to all it touches and is a great vehicle for bags of fat-free protein in anybodies diet.  Tofu contains more protein than eggs and milk and contains a quarter less calories than beef and a third of the calories (that’s the main protein brigade taken care of!).  Like all plant based foods, tofu is completely cholesterol free.

Like with all soya products, we strongly recommend going organic.

Categories: Dressings, Recipes, Side Dish, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Rainbow Kale and Tofu Sabzi (Beach House Basics)

Rainbow Kale and Tofu Sabzi

“Simple is best.”

Sage advice and I managed to stick with it this time.  This Sabzi is quick, super healthy and a staple at the BHK.  All it takes is a little tofu, a scattering of seasonal veggies and a few sprinkles of fine spices.

Sabzi (pronounced ‘sabji’ or ‘chi’, my Hindi is not great) is a simple vegetable curry in India that is the cornerstone of most Indian meals. Sabzi, rice, chappatis, maybe some pickle and dahi (yoghurt), that is a hearty, balanced feast that can be enjoyed everywhere across India. It fuelled me daily and around 1 billion other folk on the sub continent for that matter.

Travelling in India is such a treat for all the senses, especially the belly sense.  The smell of toasting chappatis and a bubbling sabzi is a truly magical thing.  My best eating experiences in India were sat on the floor, on mats in communal canteens, eating by hand from a metal thali plate or banana leaf, steaming curries and daals served straight out of buckets.

This is a quick and easy Sabzi that I made a little heartier and healthier with the addition of the tofu, a substitute of sorts for paneer.  Make sure you get the firm tofu, it comes in many different textures and the firmer the better for cooking.  Silken tofu has a lower fat content and will just dissolve (but does make amazing tofu ice cream!)

Sabzi in India is prepared with what is growing locally and seasonally, the only way you can eat in most parts of the world, what you eat is where you are and for that reason, one of the wonderful things about travelling the world.  Our choice of veggies here reflects this with some gorgeous local organic tomatoes (plucked from the farms poly-tunnel).  The kale was yanked (lovingly) out of the Beach House garden, it’s actually doing quite well now winter is here!?  I have alot to learn with plants!  We are loving the cavolo nero cabbage that is available at the moment, it’s very dark green which can only be a good thing.  It has a really full texture and strong flavour making it perfect for stews, soups and even smoothies.

Oops!  I’ve managed to delete the rest of the photos from the camera but the dish is such a winner, I thought I’d share it anyway.

Serves four hungry sorts.

The Bits

1/2 block of firm tofu (chopped into cubes), 10 stems of kale (sliced), 6 stems of cabbage (like cavolo nero, long leafed is best, sliced), 1 stem celery (chopped), 1 courgette (cubed), 1 onion (chopped), 2 carrots (cubed), 4 tomatoes, 1 inch cube ginger (finely sliced), 4 cloves garlic (crushed), 2 teas turmeric, 1 teas gram masala, 1 teas chilli powder, 1/2 handful of methi leaves (curry leaves), 1/2 cup water, sea salt.

Do It

Add onion to the pan on a medium heat, get them nice and glassy, then add your ginger, spices and garlic, fry for a further 3 minutes.  Add your courgette, tofu and carrot and fry for 3 minutes, then the methi leaves and the tomatoes and cook this mixture down a little (5 more minutes will do).  The pan should be nice and hot, toss the kale and cabbage in along with the water, it should steam up nicely, put on a low the heat and pop a lid on the pan and leave to gently cook for 10 mins.  Check seasoning and serve piping hot.  This will keep very well overnight and may even be better for a good rest the next day.

Serve

With basmati rice (we used wholegrain) and some dahi (yoghurt), mango pickle if you have can.  If you have time and the skills, make some fresh chapattis.  This type of sabzi would normally be served out of a thali plate, a metal plate with compartments.

We Love It!

Eating Sabzi in Wales is a little like riding an elephant down Caernarfon high street, slightly incongruous yet very satisfying.

Foodie Fact

Tofu was discovered thousands of years ago in Japan, it is basically curdled soya bean milk.  It boasts many health giving properties from a plant based food.  Tofu is a brilliant source of protein and calcium.  Soy protein can lower your chances of getting a dodgy ticker and has also been shown to help during menopause.  Tofu is virtually fat free and contains many anti-oxidants and omega 3 fats.

In the absence of tofu photos, here I am with a cool car.

Categories: Curries, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

Golden Courgette, Cashew and Basil Bake (Vegan)

This is a blockbuster bake.  Layers of golden courgette, chard, green cabbage, onion, tofu and mushrooms, all smothered in a creamy garlic, cashew and basil sauce.  Hows that!

This was loosely based on the traditional French dish ‘au gratin potatoes’, but without the cheese, milk, butter, flour, breadcrumbs or potatoes!  So I guess it becomes a good, old fashioned bake!!  Its a healthier Beach House number after all.  I guarantee that no flavour is lost here, no enjoyment.  Just different flavours and ways of enjoying food.

We love a good bake, but generally they just turn into a cheese and fat fest.  All that oil and the incredible richness just makes us feel a little sleepy and bloated.  We fancied something baked and light and this dish hits that nail right on the head.

As usual, the local farm is producing some quite amazing veggies.  This dense courgette was over a foot long and weighed a couple of kilos, that’s a proper vegetable.  We thought about roasting it whole but then this little idea cropped up and we haven’t had baked anything for an age now.

Ready for a roasting

The tofu was added last minute, to give it a different texture and more luxurious feel.  Tofu has a certain cheesiness to it, like a vegetal haloumi. Viva tofu!   Our mate Pete gave us a fantastic Japanese tofu book from the 60’s, the entire history and different methods for producing the wonderful white stuff.  We shall be experimenting soon.  We forgot to add the sweet peppers here.  Red ones sliced thinly, that are unfortunately still in the fridge.  They would be a nice addition.  Next time.  This time, it still tastes quite amazing.

One of the best things about this dish is the leftover potential.  Tastes better the day after and is even delicious served cold.

This is an interesting little take on an old classic and with Autumn around the corner, its good to have some new ‘bakes’ up your sleeve.

Recipe Note

You can salt and pat dry your courgettes beforehand to get rid of some of their water.

The Bits – For 6 hungry sorts

Layers

1 giant golden courgette (or 2/3 normal sized courgettes/ zucchinis)

1 bunch of chard

1 bunch of spring greens (aka dark green long leafed cabbage)

1 onion

8 mushrooms

1 block tofu (250g-ish, enough for two layers)

1 sweet red pepper (sliced)

1 big handful of basil leaves

 

Sauce

1 small onion

3 cloves garlic (crushed)

1/2 cup cashews (soaked for 1 hour)

1 handful of chopped basil leaves

1 handful of fresh parsley

2/3 cup soya milk (or nut milk)

1/3 cup filtered water

1 big glug of olive oil,

Sea salt and cracked pepper

 

Topping

2 handfuls of roasted cashew nuts

 

Do It 

Sauce – In a decent blender, blitz up your cashews until a paste forms, then add the rest of the ingredients and blend until a smooth liquid forms.  You may need to scape down the sides of the blender to get it all mixed evenly.

Layer of mushrooms

Layers – Slice all veggies thinly, not quite wafer, but getting there.  Remove any thick, chewy stems.  Add a little sauce to cover the base of your dish (a good thick rectangular baking dish, glass would be nice to see all the layers), begin the layering.  Start with the cabbage, courgette, mushroom, onion, pepper, chard, tofu, courgette sauce (repeat once more).  That will be three layers of courgette, it should be the last layer on top and will go nice and brown when baked.

The dish should be piled high, don’t worry it will cook down quite alot.  Cover with foil and bake for 40 mins (180oC) then remove foil and bake for a further 15 mins or until the top is nice and golden brown.

Serve

Topped with roasted cashews, we ate ours with our leaf of the moment, a carrot top salad.  Rich bakes just crave for a nice crunchy salad.

We Love It!

Hearty winter fare, but light and healthy.  Like a normal bake but without the vast amounts of grease and fat.

Yellow Courgette and Basil Au Gratin

Foodie Fact

The gold in these courgettes makes it a great source of flavanoids, a wonderful thing.  They scavenge the body looking for baddies and make us look young and keep us disease free.  Courgettes are best stored in a plastic bag in the fridge, they dry out easily.

Categories: Autumn, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments

Watermelon and Tofu Kebabs

The Bits

We don’t care if the weather is damn awful, we are having our summer!  These kebabs are pure sun food, to be eaten when it’s too hot to even consider a barbecue and all you want to do is have a massive chill (preferably in a hammock).  Serving suggestion – on a tropical beach.  They are easy on the eye, served cool and require very little effort.

Summer will not be reaching Wales this year, so we are making our own, using kebabs.  When you need to get a big fire on in mid July, you know you’re in trouble.  British people are famous for talking about the weather, well it’s no wonder, it’s a freak.

Watermelons are a fruit custom designed for summertime.  They are so thirst quenching, I like then best just at it comes and straight out of the fridge.  When living in Murcia,(+40oC in summer) Spain I used to use them as ice cubes (just cut into cubes and stick in the freezer).  We decided to add kiwi here and some amazing cucumber from the farm; purely for the colour contrast, we demanded sexy kebabs.  The not-quite-ripe kiwi also adds a nice fruity bitterness.

We marinated the tofu for a few hours in a classic style summer dressing, all basil and mint from the garden with tad of honey and lemon.  You can use goats cheese or feta and treat it in the same way.

Marinating Tofu

When you buy a watermelon, and you don’t have a family of ten, you have to get a little creative to use it all up.  We found out recently that you can actually eat the rind of the watermelon, cook it up into a stew.  Checkout our some favela cooking, Rio style.  Waste not, want not!  We bought a beastly sized thing and have been making it into soups, salads, smoothies and all sorts. This was our favourite experiment with the big pink globe.

Watermelon works surprisingly well with savoury dishes, its light sweetness blends nicely with fresh flavours, it is quite neutral really.  It certainly add colour to the plate, which is something we love in any food.

Please try these cooling kebabs in a hotter part of the world, we ate ours with our fleeces on (indoors) dreaming of swaying palm trees.  We have good imaginations, it nearly worked!

Remember your seeds.  Keep them, dry them out and roast them for a lovely little snack.  Pumpkin and watermelon seeds are delicious and very easy to collect and roast.  It seems a waste to chuck them in the bin.

Kebabs and the ‘Big Crunch’

Makes two big kebabs:

The Bits

Kebabs – 10 big chunks of watermelon (cubes), 10 chunks of firm tofu (marinated), 1 large cucumber (chopped into chunks), 1 kiwi (not quite ripe, peeled and cut in slices).  2 large skewers, we used metal.

Marinade – juice of 1/2 lemon, 6 fresh basil leaves (ripped up small), handful of fresh mint (chopped), 1 teas honey, 1 clove garlic (finely chopped/ crushed), pinch of sea salt, cracked black pepper (to taste), 1/4 cup of good olive oil.

Do It

Mix up your marinade in a bowl, toss tofu well and coat in the marinade.  Leave  covered in the fridge for a couple of hours.  When ready to serve, gather your bits and begin to make the kebabs.  Slide on your chunks in a regular order, we like the last one to be a kiwi.

Serve

Spoon over any left over marinade and serve on a nice platter/ chopping board.

We had ours with a nice ‘big crunch’ salad:

All chopped – 1 head chicory, 1 apple, 2 carrots, 1 orange pepper, 2 large mushrooms, 1 beetroot, 1 red onion(diced small), 6 large lettuce leaves, 1 handful of beetroot leaves, sprouted mung beans, golden flax seeds with our ‘Beach House Dressing‘ mixed in.  CRUNCH!

Watermelon and Tofu Kebabs

We Love It!

This is the perfect summer munch and a fine way to get rid of your excess watermelon!  One day, we will eat this in the sunshine…….

Foodie Fact

Watermelon are the ideal accompaniment to a sun scorched summers day.  They are originally from Southern Africa and are closely related to the squash.  They are full of electrolytes and of course, water.  They also contain alot of lycopene (super antioxidant) vitamin A and C and potassium.

Categories: Dinner, Healthy Eating, Recipes, Vegan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

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