Seaweed is the new superfood

I know what you’re thinking. Seaweed? That slimy, dull green algae we’re so used to seeing washed up along the British coastline? Yes. Move over kale, seaweed is the new superfood.

Seaweed is in fact a highly nutritious and versatile ingredient. Used widely in Korean and Japanese cooking, it’s packed full of minerals like iodine, which is great for the thyroid function and helps to strengthen the immune system. It contains more vitamin C than an orange, plus it’s high in protein.

Seaweed can be used in a variety of dishes, including stock, soup, salad, and, of course, sushi. Its neutral, earthy taste pairs well with flavourful dressings and sauces, and it will leave you feeling full. You can find the dried stuff in some big supermarkets, as well as oriental supermarkets and online.

Try it for yourself

  
Try making this adaptation of Yotam Ottolenghi’s crusted tofu with seaweed and lime.

The seaweed soaks up the chilli dressing, contrasting wonderfully with the punchy coriander seeds and lime in the tofu coating. The seaweed ribbons have a thicker texture than you’d expect, similar to lasagne sheets, though with a fresher taste and more bite.

Ingredients

  • 40g dried seaweed (we used kelp – you could also use wakame or a similar alternative)
  • 20g panko breadcrumbs
  • Grated zest of 1 small lime
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp black (or white) sesame seeds
  • 15g coriander leaves
  • 150g tofu, drained and cut into 2cm chunks
  • 20g plain flour
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 50ml sunflower oil, for frying
  • Salt

For the dressing

  • 1 tbsp lime juice
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp sriracha chilli sauce
  • A couple of drops of rice wine
  • 2 tbsp groundnut oil

Preparation time: 40 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes
Serves 2-3 as a starter

Method

1. Place the seaweed in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring
to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes.
2. Whisk together all of the dressing ingredients except the groundnut oil.
Gradually add the groundnut oil, whisking as you go.
3. Next, get your production line ready to coat your tofu. Put the coriander
seeds in a small bowl and crush them with the back of a metal spoon. Add the
breadcrumbs, lime zest and sesame seeds, a pinch of salt and stir in together.
Beat the egg into another small bowl. Pour the flour into a third bowl. Coat the
tofu in the flour, followed by the egg and lastly the breadcrumb mix.
4. Drain the seaweed, and cut into 2-3cm wide ribbons.
5. Put a large frying pan on a medium heat and add the sunflower oil. Cook
the tofu for a few minutes on each side, until golden brown.
6. Mix the seaweed, coriander leaves and dressing together in a bowl. Serve
on a plate with the crispy tofu. Squeeze some extra lime juice on top if you
fancy.

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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.

Scrambled tofu with sautéed vegetables

Scrambled tofu, served with sautéed vegetables on an open bagel, makes a filling and flavoursome vegan brunch. It’s packed with protein and nutritious goodness, and injects plenty of colour onto your plate. It’s a great way to kickstart start your day.Scrambled tofu with sautéed vegetablesTofu, made from soy beans and water, is an ingredient I usually use at dinner time; in stir fries and curries. If you prepare it with patience by ensuring you press as much water out of it as possible, it’s very versatile and quite easy to use.

In this dish, the texture of the tofu is similar to scrambled egg, making it perfect for brunch-time eating. Its best quality is its ability to soak up and absorb strong flavours; which is demonstrated in this recipe as the taste of garlic, cumin and chilli tickle your tastebuds.

Teamed with the sweet flavouring of the red pepper and the juicy, succulent mushrooms, this is a really tasty dish that will get you well on your way to your five-a-day.

Ingredients

    • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
    • 200g tofu (I used Cauldron’s original tofu)
    • 1 red pepper, sliced lengthways
    • 3-4 closed cup mushrooms, sliced
    • ½ red onion, roughly chopped
    • 1 small clove garlic, crushed
    • ½ tsp rock salt
    • ½ tsp ground cumin
    • ½ tsp turmeric
    • ½ tsp mild chilli powder
    • 2 bagels, sliced in half
    • olive spread for the bagels
    • an avocado on the side, if you fancy it
    • ½ tsp paprika

Preparation time: 30 minutes (allowing time for the tofu to firm)
Cooking time 15 minutes
Serves 2

Method

1. Put the tofu on a plate and balance a chopping board on top, or something sturdy and weighty. Leave the tofu for 20-30 minutes, until the majority of the water has been pressed out.

2. Meanwhile, put a large frying pan or wok on a medium heat and pour in the oil.

3. When the oil has heated through, add the onion, pepper and garlic and fry for five minutes, stirring frequently.

4. While the vegetables are cooking, tip the spices into a bowl with a tablespoon of water and stir into a paste.

5. Add the mushrooms to the pan and cook for a further five minutes, making sure the vegetables cook without browning. Push the vegetables to one side of the pan.

6. Pat the tofu dry with some kitchen roll and place on to a clean plate (or rinse the existing plate and re-use). Mash the tofu up with the back of the fork, so it breaks up into rough, bitesize chunks.

7. Add the tofu to the empty side of the pan and cook for two minutes, stirring often. Pour the paste over the tofu and mix it in well so it covers all of the tofu. Cook for another two to three minutes.

8. While the tofu is cooking, toast the bagels and spread generously with olive spread. Place on a large plate.

9. When the tofu is ready, divide it in two and place on one half of the bagel on each plate. Do the same with the sautéed vegetables on the other half of the bagel.

10. Serve with half an avocado on each plate and sprinkle over a little bit of lemon juice.

This recipe was inspired by the Minimalist Baker and prepared by my wonderful boyfriend.
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Yasai itameru (stir fried tofu with mixed vegetables, rice noodles and a coconut & ginger broth)

Yasai itameru is a fresh and flavoursome soupy noodle dish with a kick. It’s bursting with the wonderful flavours of garlic, sweet coconut, zingy ginger, salty soy sauce and a wealth of interesting vegetables. And the tofu soaks up all of these delights as well as you’d expect.

This recipe is taken from the Wagamama cookbook; which is, without a doubt, my favourite ‘fast food restaurant’ in London – if it can be classed as that. I mean, the food comes out fast. And it’s always brilliant. Well, apart from that one time I was given chicken gyoza instead of vegetable gyoza. But they did make up for that, so I forgave them. If you’re not familiar; go there! They have them all over the UK! Find your nearest one here. And try the salmon teriyaki – so tasty.

I absolutely love Japanese food. I’d even go as far to say it’s my favourite cuisine. I was lucky enough to visit Japan in 2010 while a good friend of mine was out there teaching. We ate out every night for two weeks; it was amazing. We gorged ourselves on sushi, curries, noodles, ramen, okonomiyaki, salads and more. There was so much to try and all of it so tasty. Just thinking about it makes me want to go back. But luckily, there are a good few Japanese restaurants in London which won’t dent my bank balance so much.

I could go into more depth about my love of Japanese food, but instead I’ll move on to the meal in hand. I’ve adapted this recipe slightly, substituting some of the fresh spices for the dried stuff to save having to buy too many unusual ingredients.

It’s quite a multi-faceted meal to make as you’ve got 2-3 pans on the go at once, but it’s not too tricky. And the results are worth it.

Yasai itameru

Ingredients

For the stir fry:

  • 3 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tsp crushed chillies
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 generous handfuls beansprouts
  • 200g tofu, chopped into 3-4cm cubes (the recipe suggests firm tofu, but I used Cauldron – if you opt for this, make sure you drain out the water by putting it in a bowl and popping something heavy like a frying pan on top of it for 15 minutes or so)
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 small sweet potato, peeled and thinly sliced lengthways
  • 5 spring onions, trimmed and cut lengthways
  • 150g rice noodles (I used vermicelli which I’d recommend)
  • 2 pak choi, with the bottoms cut off and halved lengthways
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp sugar

For the coconut and ginger broth:

  • 4 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 250ml hot water
  • 100ml coconut milk
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp galangal paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 0.5 tsp ground coriander
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 0.5 tsp salt

Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking time: 30 minutes
Serves 2 generous portions

Method

1. Make a start on the broth first. Heat the oil in a large frying pan over a low heat for a few minutes. Add the garlic, ginger and galangal, being careful of the hot oil. Mix well and cook on a low heat for six minutes, until you can smell the mixture of aromas.

2. Add the hot water and bring to the boil, adding the salt and sugar.

3. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the liquid has reduced by half.

4. While the broth is simmering, half-fill a medium-sized saucepan with water and bring it to the boil.

5. And while the water is heating up, heat a wok over a medium heat for a couple of minutes. Add the sunflower oil and swirl it around so it covers the surface of the wok. Add the crushed chillies and garlic and fry for 10 seconds, stirring.

6. Next, add the tofu and coat it in the garlic and chillies for another 10 seconds, then add the pak choi, red onion, spring onions, sweet potato and beansprouts and stir fry for 5-10 minutes, until the pak choi has started to reduce in size.

7. When the water in the saucepan is boiling, add the noodles and cook for two to three minutes. Drain and rinse them under cold running water, and set them aside.

8. Add the salt, sugar and soy sauce to the wok and stir fry for five minutes, or until all of the ingredients are cooked – making sure the sweet potato has softened, but still has a bit of bite.

9. Check on the broth. If it has reduced, add the coconut milk and stir well. Cook on a low heat for a couple of minutes. Add the noodles and stir into the broth, and heat through for five minutes.

10. Serve the noodles in shallow bowls topped with the stir fry. Add a lime wedge and some fresh coriander sprigs as a garnish if you fancy.