Tofu with a moreish tomato and ginger sauce

by admin on March 17, 2010 · 15 comments

Post image for Tofu with a moreish tomato and ginger sauce

The best recipes have a balance to them; salt and sweet, hot and sour.  And if you’re lucky they have that something extra too, maybe a hint of the fifth taste, umami.

This sauce is inspired by Bill Granger’s recipe for Braised Lamb Shanks in his book, Holiday.  Bill’s recipe is deep and spicy and incredibly moreish, but not the kind of meal I like to make for healthy, everyday eating.  How to keep the flavour without the lamb, and as I promised last week provide a boost for your bones?  I’ve taken this deconstructionist approach to recipes before and know that tofu works as the perfect foil to a sauce that is ‘the main event’.

There are still reasonable amounts of added fat in this tofu version, included to carry the flavours of the spices, but the fat is a healthier oil predominant in monounsaturated fats rather than the heavy, saturated fat from the lamb.  Some of the umami-driven moreishness of the original dish came from the meat but also from the tomatoes and soy sauce which I’ve kept in, in fact the vegetable and taste of the dish has been oooomphed up considerably with extra tomatoes and onion. I’ve added a third umami element too, dark and sticky molasses (did you know that MSG is made from fermented molasses? I didn’t know this before but I’m guessing there’s some taste connection there).

Tofu is a favourite of mine to recommend to my osteoporosis patients.  Not every brand of tofu is calcium rich but those that are tend to be really rich in calcium.  100g of a tofu made using calcium sulphate contains around 510 mg of calcium; about twice the calcium you would get from a glass of milk.  To put this into more context, the UK recommended daily intake of calcium for adults is 700mg while Australia and US recommend that we have 1000mg. I suspect it’s us Brits that are a bit behind, but a serving would provide at least half of what you need in a day.

I’m usually a brown rice gal but prefer this with the clean flavours of basmati rice. With a green veg on the side this meal provides at least 3 servings of vegetable. Still don’t fancy the tofu? Try this with lean diced lamb, cubed paneer cheese, chicken thigh or a mix of chickpeas and butter beans.

Related links
If you like the sound of this recipe, try this tofu with hot and sour rhubarb sauce
Anna and Kristina have a nice guide to buying and storing tofu
Leslie Beck has tofu as a featured food, with good ideas of how to include more in your diet
Elaine at Greens and Berries has some excellent links on How to build and maintain healthy bone on a plant based diet

Recipe for Tofu with a moreish tomato and ginger sauce

Serves 4

2 blocks firm tofu (2 x 250g packs)
2 tbsp vegetable oil (rapeseed oil)
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
Thumb sized piece of ginger, peeled
1 stick lemongrass, chopped
1 red chillli (medium hot)
2 medium onions
2 x 400g cans chopped tomatoes
1 heaped tsp molasses
2 tbsp soy sauce or shoyu
2 limes (optional)

Remove the tofu from its packaging and press between two plates, with a piece of kitchen towel or a clean tea towel either side to soak up the moisture. Leave for at least 10 minutes while you prep the other ingredients.

Cut the tofu into large, bite-sized cubes and season with pepper and a little salt.

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in a deep frying pan on a medium to high heat.  Fry the tofu until lightly browned then remove it from the pan and put it aside.

Add the second tablespoon of oil to the pan and turn down the heat. Add the onion and cook for about five minutes.

Once the onions have softened a little, add the lemongrass, chilli and garlic. Cook for three minutes or so, stirring occasionally.

Add the tomatoes, molasses and soy sauce to the pan. Grate the ginger directly in to the pan to catch all the juices.  Simmer for 10 minutes.

Return the tofu to the pan and heat until the tofu is thoroughly warmed through.

Serve wth a grain and a green and half a lime to squeeze over.


Anh March 17, 2010 at 22:16

Such a lovely way to cook with tofu…

Maninas March 17, 2010 at 22:20

I love the flavours in this dish.
I must admit the photo attracted me because I made paneer in tomato and ginger sauce this weekend, and I was wondering if they were similar. They weren’t, but that’s even better. Now I’ve seen another great ginger and tomato recipe!

Elaine March 17, 2010 at 22:34

Sophie, this looks & sounds fabulous. And your post is a delight to read. “Umami-driven moreishness” — love that phrase!
I’m one of those that seeks out recipes where the sauce is the main event. I can’t wait to try this one. I don’t think I’ve ever tasted this particular combination of ingredients.
You’ve created a classic, calcium-rich, bone-healthy recipe here. I fancy it as is, with the tofu. Well done & thank you.
Gorgeous photo. Yes, everything about this post is well-composed.

kathryn March 18, 2010 at 01:33

Lovely recipe Sophie. I do like the creative way you adapt meat recipes, considering all the flavour “experiences” of the original dish. I’m going to be making this *very* soon indeed.
Someone on Twitter asked if they could replace the molasses with agave, honey or sugar – what do you think?

Johanna GGG March 18, 2010 at 01:51

Great recipe and so nice to see a really good example of how to replace meat with tofu – i think the molasses is a great idea to bulk up the flavour a little – but it is also reassuring to hear how good tofu is for getting more calcium in the diet after being ignored by the maternal and child nurse when I said sylvia loves tofu but not milk!

another outspoken female March 18, 2010 at 03:26

Looks wonderful. Sometimes I feel like a freak out in the real world due to my passionate love of tofu, so it’s always great to see like minds at work.
The molasses (especially if blackstrap) lends a touch of iron to the dish too, which never goes astray in a veggie diet.

Arwen from Hoglet K March 18, 2010 at 04:09

That sounds like a great way to get some flavour into your tofu. My mum has been trying to eat more tofu, so I’ll recommend your recipe to her.

Gill March 25, 2010 at 17:12

I’ve never tried Tofu before, so not sure what it tastes like, but this recipe sounds really tasty with the ginger and tomato flavours, so I am going to give it a try. Don’t know what my husband will think as he is a big meat-eater. I am trying to re-educate him to eat more healthily.

Sophie March 26, 2010 at 20:47

Thanks everyone for the comments.
Just to reply to Kathryn’s query regarding what to use if you don’t have any molasses; I would use brown sugar as first choice, but if not honey or agave would work fine, just in smaller quantities as they tend to be sweeter than molasses

Helen April 7, 2010 at 09:32

Lovely! I am a sucker for any new tofu recipes.
I make my own using milk from my soy milk machcine and use lemon juice or vinegar to coagulate so the calcium will be far lower.
Tofu is also great blitzed with seeds or nuts, some lemon juice and oil as a non diary ricotta.

kylieonwheels April 10, 2010 at 09:50

G’day, first time trying out one of your recipes. Can I just clarify the chilli situation…it’s meant to be chopped, yeah?
Looking forward to trying this out tomorrow, I love the combination of spice and tofu.

Sophie April 26, 2010 at 19:04

Helen, I’m very impressed that you’re making your own tofu. I haven’t looked into this myself yet but I’ve heard that you can buy the traditional calcium sulphate tofu coagulent to make calcium rich tofu at home.
Kylie, I have emailed you about the chilli but yep, it’s a finely chopped chilli that goes in (I’ll change the recipe to make this clearer).

another outspoken female August 9, 2010 at 10:12

Wow! As soon as I read tomato and ginger I knew how great this would taste. Undeterred by having no lemongrass or molasses on hand I substituted them with kaffir lime leaves and kecap manis (for the sweet deep flavour). I also had an eggplant in need of use so pan fried it and added to the sauce with the tofu. Served with a heap of fresh coriander on top. It came together beautifully. Thanks so much.
Have you tried it with tempeh, am thinking it would make a great sauce for tempeh and green beans?

Elizabeth August 10, 2010 at 03:16

Wow really great information! Thankyou for that and thankyou for the wonderful looking recipe. I am a tofu fan so this recipe would be great!

Jeannie Psomas November 3, 2014 at 04:57

This was great. I used a bunch of chopped scallions instead of onions and put Chinese black vinegar (like balsamic vinegar) in to liven it up a bit – fantastic results. I also put a few whole Sichuan peppercorns in with the garlic/scallion/ginger part. Yum!

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