If you were expecting a last-minute Christmas recipe I am very sorry to disappoint you. To be honest, I have just finished putting away so.many.groceries that even the thought of writing about food is making me a bit tired. I’m not feeling bah hum bug. Just a bit bah hum zzz.
I’m not quite sure why though. The Christmas meal is really just a tarted up roast dinner, isn’t it? So why are we so caught up in the scrum, diving for the last turkey crown, picking through piles of sprouts as if for a flawless diamond, spraffing a fortune on unnecessary this and thats no one has asked for, nor expect to get?
I saw some unhappy faces today. Not just the kids being dragged around the shops (I liked the good old days when your mum would just leave you at home and expect you not to set fire to the place), but old hands like me with tattered, crossed-through lists (multiple) and vacant expressions. We were thinking of beds that needed changing, festive dishes to prep and store, the carpets needing cleaned, normal meals that still needed making while semi-chaos unfurls around us. I hope these wan-faced stoics have been able to pop a pizza in the oven and put their feet up tonight. If you recognise yourself in this description, I salute you.
As for us, I’ve opened a nice little off-dry Riesling and am about to tackle a big bowl of this little spicy and subtly sweet number. I’ve also steamed some gorgeously minerally choi sum and baked lime leaf-flecked rice to go with it. A fitting reward for trawling around five stores and waiting ten minutes for a parking space.
You will see two versions made at very different times – one tempeh (the light background) and one tofu. As with almost all of my recipes, play with the spices to suit. I have written it a bit milder than is my usual want in order that it might be more child-friendly, but obviously whack in more chilli, or do what I do and slosh on some crispy garlic-chilli condiment. This Chinese staple is my new sriracha.
Now, with a satisfied belly, I may just have enough energy to
make the cornbread stuffing pour that glass of wine.
Easy Sticky Sesame-Orange Tofu
I make this with tofu and tempeh, and both versions turn out equally well. With the tofu I always press the whole block of its liquid then cut, spray with oil spray and bake until the cubes are just golden – about 20 minutes at 200C (400F). Do this ahead of time if you like, but it is not at all difficult. This easy recipe also tastes great the next day, so make double and take the extras to work. Beats a sandwich any day!
200g pack firm tofu or tempeh, cut into cubes (if using tofu see above) and tofu baked if you like. You could also use pre-fried tofu
2 carrots, julienne sliced
1 orange, juiced and half of it zested
1 large lemon, juiced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 heaped tbsp freshly grated gingerroot
2 tbsp kecap manis (Indonesian sweet soy sauce) or 2 tbsp soy sauce and 2 tbsp honey or favourite sweetener
A few grinds of black pepper
2 tsp cold-pressed rapeseed oil or coconut oil
2 tsp toasted sesame oil
2 spring onions, sliced (use the green bits for garnish)
2 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
1 red chilli, sliced
1. Pop the lemon and orange juice, garlic, ginger, kecap manis and black pepper into a small pan and simmer gently for five minutes.
2. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a wok or sauté pan and add the carrots when hot. Stir fry the carrots for five minutes, then add the tofu or tempeh pieces and heat through. Pour in the sticky orange sauce and the sesame oil; stir until all is heated through.
3. Serve sprinkled with extra chopped spring onions and the toasted sesame seeds. This goes really well with cooked soba noodles or brown basmati rice, plus some steamed choi sum or pak choi. Enjoy!