Tofu and vegetable chilli udon

This rich, fiery Asian inspired vegan noodle dish is packed full of wonderful spices and flavours. Thick, smooth udon noodles make for a hearty, filling base, the green pepper adds a nice crunch and vibrant colour, the portobello mushrooms bring an earthy, silky texture and the fried tofu soaks up the delicious spicy coconut broth really well.

This dish is reminiscent of many of the flavours you’d expect at a restaurant like Wagamama, with the coconut and chilli and unusual noodles. It’s pretty quick and easy to make, so whip this up and you’ll be sure to impress your friends!

Tofu and vegetable chilli udon

Ingredients

  • 150g tofu (I used Cauldron original)
  • 200g low-fat coconut milk
  • 200ml vegetable stock
  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • lime juice
  • 6 baby portobello mushrooms (what I had in the fridge – you can use a different type)
  • 1 green pepper, cut into thin strips
  • 300g quick cook udon noodles

For the curry paste

  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • ½ tsp fresh ginger, finely chopped
  • 1.5 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 lemongrass stalk, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 small red onion, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 2

Method

  1. Place the tofu on a large plate and balance a chopping board and heavy pan on top of it (or something else heavy that is likely to balance). Leave it for 15 minutes or so, to drain out the water.
  2. Meanwhile, make your curry paste. Place all of the curry paste ingredients – except for the sesame oil – into a deep-edged bowl and blend with a hand blender until it’s as smooth as you can get it. Add the sesame oil and then give it another go with the hand blender to make sure it doesn’t dry out. Stir it with a spoon to make sure you’re happy with the consistency; it should thick and a few little lumps are fine.
  3. To make your broth, place a large frying pan on to a medium heat. Add the curry paste and fry gently for 2-3 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add the coconut milk and vegetable stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for a further five minutes.
  5. While that’s simmering, cut your tofu into cubes, around 3-4cm.
  6. Using another frying pan or wok, add the sunflower oil and put it on a relatively high heat.
  7. Add the tofu and fry it until it’s golden brown, for around 7-10 minutes, turning it frequently.
  8. After 3 minutes, add the pepper and mushrooms and to the tofu pan and continue to turn them frequently with a fish slice or wooden spoon.
  9. Return to your pan of simmering broth and stir in the noodles.
  10. When the tofu has browned up and the pepper has softened, pour all of these ingredients into the pan of broth. Mix together well.
  11. Add the lime juice and cook on a low heat for 2-3 minutes.
  12. Serve in large bowls with a slice of lime on the side and eat with chopsticks.

This dish is inspired by Simon Rimmer’s Malaysian-spiced noodles.

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Tofu pad thai

I first visited Thailand in 2009; it was the first stop in a round-the-world backpacking trip after university. It opened my eyes to a completely different culture, nothing I’d ever experienced before. I loved it so much, I went back to explore more of its wonders over new year this year.

If the country’s stunning beaches and incredibly hospitable people aren’t enough to warrant a visit, then combine those things with its amazing (and very cheap) food and you’d be a fool to miss out.

Pad thai to Thai people is like a roast dinner to us Brits. It’s a staple dish and is sold almost everywhere. And it’s delicious in all its varieties. Traditionally it’s served with shrimps, but restaurants are always happy to make a vegetarian version with tofu if you ask.

This version I make is a sexed up stir fry. A cheat’s pad thai. It’s very quick and simple to make. It’s an adaptation of a traditional pad thai I saw on BBC Good Food combined with a sauce based on a recipe from one of my favourite vegetarian cookbooks at the moment, Leon Fast.

Tofu pad thai

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, sliced
  • 1 courgette, sliced into half moon pieces
  • 200g Cauldron Original Tofu (this works well, but you can use other varieties)
  • 2 portions of dried medium egg noodles (I used Sainsbury’s own)
  • 150g frozen stir fry vegetables
  • 2 eggs, beaten

For the sauce

  • 2 heaped tsp crunchy peanut butter
  • 1.5 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp warmwater
  • 2 tsp dried ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tsp honey
  • a few drops of rice wine
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Serves 2

Method

  1. Firstly, pop your block of tofu on to a large plate. Put a chopping board on top of the tofu and balance a heavy frying pan on top. Leave this for 15 minutes or so to drain out as much water as possible. The firmer the tofu, the better.
  2. Put a large frying pan on a medium to high heat and drizzle the olive oil all over the pan. When the oil is hot enough to move around the pan freely when you lift it up, add the onion and fry for five minutes, until soft.
  3. Meanwhile, half-fill a saucepan with cold water and bring it to the boil. Add the stir fry vegetables to the water.
  4. When the tofu is firm enough, chop it up into 5cm cubes. When the onion is cooked, add the tofu and cook for five minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Next, add the two portions of noodles to the saucepan with the vegetables and boil for 2-3 minutes.
  6. While everything else is cooking, combine all of the sauce ingredients in a tall-sided bowl and whiz them together with a hand blender, being careful not to let the liquid splurt out of the bowl (and go all over you, which has happened to me before). When you’ve smoothed out most of the peanuts in the peanut butter and the mixture is runny, give it a quick mix with a spoon and leave it to stand.
  7. Add the courgette to the frying pan with a dash of soy sauce and stir it in with the onion and tofu.
  8. Drain the stir vegetables and noodles with a colander and shake the excess water over the saucepan so you don’t lose any valuable noodles.
  9. When the courgette pieces are soft, add the noodles and vegetables to the frying pan, mixing all of the ingredients in well with each other. Do this for five minutes or so, or until everything is well mixed.
  10. Pour the sauce over the mixture in the frying pan and stir in until it coats everything.
  11. Lower the temperature to a low to medium heat, and using a wooden spatula or spoon, squash all of the mixture to one half of the pan. Pour the egg into the other half of the pan and mix it constantly until it has a runny, scrambled consistency.
  12. Mix the egg in thoroughly with the rest of the pad thai and season with salt and pepper.
  13. Serve in bowls, with a slice of lime and crushed peanuts on the side if you’re feeling fancy.

And that’s how you make a speedy pad thai.