I can accept that there are many out there who do not like tofu, or they say they don’t like it but haven’t tried it. I’m not some sort of tofu missionary. You can eat or not eat whatever you like. I’ll feel a little sad on the inside that you are missing out on one of life’s pleasures, but hey, it’s up to you. However, unless it’s due to a belief system or for health reasons, I really don’t get people who won’t at least try something. What do you think is going to happen?
There are two possible outcomes…
1) You try it. You like it. You’ve found something new to eat and enjoy.
2) You try it. You don’t like it. You don’t eat it anymore.
Where’s the fear? It’s tofu not skydiving. You don’t even need to double check your chute.
Having said that there is a LOT of bad tofu out there. Just last week my husband and I went out for breakfast to a café owned by a fairly prominent chef. I’ll say no more on that lest it was an off day. They had scrambled tofu on the menu and I was excited because I knew the guy is a pretty good vegetarian chef. So, I was surprised to find myself a wee bit disappointed. What I got was more like a stir fry that had tofu broken up in it. The flavours overall were fine but if I was a tofu-hater looking to convert, this would not have done it for me.
Where did they fall down? The tofu was chucked in as just another ingredient. Tofu doesn’t like that. When that happens to tofu it becomes rebellious and sits there with its arms crossed and says, “Right then, I’m not going to blend in. I’m going to sit in here all broken up like I am “blended in”, but I’ll sulk and taste all separate and bland.” Which is exactly what happened. I tasted well-seasoned vegetables…with some rough tasting tofu mixed in.
You just can’t do that. It’s an injustice to hundreds of years of tofu making history. You need to be at one with the tofu. Work with it, not against it. Try and imagine Obi Wan as a chef. What would he say? He’d tell Luke to respect the tofu. That’s what he’d say.
OK, I won’t geek out on you, but respect truly is due. Tofu wants to be loved and treated with care. It wants to be wrapped up in its own warm flavours or highlighted all on its own and complimented until the cows come home. Tofu doesn’t want to take the congratulations for participating medal home, tofu wants gold. Let’s go for gold.
The secret to a good tofu scramble is patience and a pinch of umami. I think silken tofu has the best texture for this which means there is a danger that you could end up with millions of tiny soft pieces that can only be scooped up with a spoon. Not nice, and not what we are going for. So, before you even get the tofu packet opened you need to step back, take a deep breath, and get to the zen place. Slow down and use gentle movements. Nurture that tofu, dammit!
So, we want to let the tofu fry undisturbed long enough to get a bit of a crust on it before turning it over. Try to resist the urge to keep stirring it around like you do with scrambled eggs. Also, you’ll get a nice colour and slight flavor from the turmeric, but you then need to umamicise* it with some miso or, the miso of down under, vegemite. I used red miso because that’s what I had in the fridge, but any would do and often people have white which is perfect. Don’t be tempted to use more because the flavor can be too fermented-like. If you don’t like miso or vegemite, you could go for a bit of light soy sauce but the colour of the finished product will be slightly darker.
1Tbsp canola oil
Half a small onion diced
1 garlic clove finely diced
1/8 tsp turmeric powder
250 grams Silken tofu
1 tsp miso or ½ tsp Vegemite or Marmite plus 2 tsp water to thin
1 tsp dried mixed herbs or half a handful of fresh flat leaf parsley (or whatever you have)
Optional toppings: smoked paprika and savoury yeast flakes**
Sweat the onions in the oil on a low heat until almost translucent and add the garlic.
After another minute you can stir in the turmeric until the colour is distributed around the pan.
Slice the tofu into fairly large chunks of about 2 cms thick and let any excess water drain off. Add to the pan and let cook, untouched for about two to three minutes. It’s unlikely to burn so longer is better but keep an eye on the onions and garlic.
When the tofu looks like the texture has changed on the bottom, turn the pieces over and wait for the same to happen to the other side while you thin the miso with the water. If your tofu is in cubes, this may take a little longer while you do all the sides.
Sprinkle the herbs on the tofu, pour on the miso and slice each chunk in half as you start to turn everything over by scooping gently from underneath. When you think the miso has heated through you are ready to serve up. It’s delicious on Vogels toast with butter and smoked paprika and savoury yeast flakes on top.
* I’m thinking of patenting the word ‘umamicise’. What do you think?
**Savoury yeast flakes, also known as nutritional yeast flakes, can be bought at health food shops and some supermarkets like Pak N Save in the scoopy bins. They add a nutritional content and a cheesy savoury flavor that is delicious.