Tuesday, August 23, 2011

August 21, 2011: Szechuan pepper tofu with wasabi pea sauce

Along with our blog's fifth birthday spring give-away spectacular, we decided to have an actual real-life celebration of veg food to mark the occasion. We gathered our usual potluck crew for a Sunday afternoon vegan, gluten-free binge, a veritable smorgasbord of deliciousness. Everyone came through with the goods (chocolate-coated root beer ice-cream! the most amazing black-bean sauce of all-time!! choc-berry tarts!!! Buffalo tofu!!!! and so much more!!!!!). It was a lovely afternoon, and having a dozen people in our house who we'd never have met without the blog was a fitting way to mark five years since we started. 

My attempt to impress involved shallow-fried Szechuan tofu fish-fingers with a wasabi pea puree, inspired by VeggieNumNum. This was an easy combo to whip up and one that is guaranteed to impress. The Szechuan peppers gave a tingly numbing kick to the tofu strips, which combined a crunchy rice-crumb exterior and a lemony-soy tofu interior. The pea mush was a striking green colour and gave the illusion of being guacamole - it tastes nothing like avocado, so you've got to try to manage your expectations. As long as you're not expecting guac, it's a tasty treat, with the sweetness of the peas cut through by the wasabi tang. I'll probably go heavier on both the Szechuan and the wasabi next time. Rest assured there will be a next time.

Szechuan pepper tofu
(from Veggie num num)

1kg tofu, cut into fish-finger sized rectangles
juice of 2 lemons
3-4 tablespoons tamari
5 teaspoons of ground Szechuan pepper corns (I'd go higher here next time, I was playing it safe for the potluck gang)
1 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups rice crumbs
2 teaspoons corn flour
plenty of oil for frying

Combine the lemon juice and tamari in a baking tray and marinate the tofu in it for 20 minutes or so (I even turned my tofu pieces once, but that's probably not essential).

Combine the rice crumbs, Szechuan pepper, white pepper and salt in a bowl. This is your crumbing mix.

Take the tofu out of the marinade and pat it down with some paper towels to dry. Combine the remaining marinade with the cornflour and whisk until smooth.

Heat a 1/2 cm layer of oil in a frying pan until it's nice and hot. Then, dip your tofu in the cornflour/tamari/lemon mix and coat it in the crumbing mixture before dropping it in the frying pan.

Do this for a pan-load of tofu pieces - by the time you get all the pieces in (about 4 minutes I'd guess) it'll be time to flip the first pieces you put in. The crumbs go nice and hard and you end up with something very reminiscent of a fish finger.

We've got a big frying pan and this still took us three batches to get done - we kept our cooked tofu in a covered container to retain some warmth while we finished the job. I think these are best eaten at once - ours had turned a little dry by the time they'd cooled down.

Wasabi pea sauce

(again, via Veggie num num)

Note: because I doubled Trudy's quantities for the tofu, I did the same for the pea puree. This is not necessary! Below are the quantities I used, but beware that this makes more pea puree than you could possibly use.

5 cups frozen peas
1 cup water
3 teaspoons wasabi

Combine the peas and the water in a large fry-pan over medium heat. Get things simmering and let them bubble along, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. The peas should be bright green and nice and soft.

Pour the pea/water mix into a blender and whizz to a thick, bright mush.

Stir through the wasabi (add more or less depending on your tastes - it was definitely noticeable at these quantities, but I might kick it up a notch next time).


  1. This looks AMAZING! Considering that wasabi peas are one of my favourite snacks I'll definitely have to give this a go.

    Oh, and happy blog birthday! Here's to five more tofu-filled years!

  2. This sounds awesome. I wish I could grab it right out of the screen and eat it!

  3. Hells yes. Everything about this is brilliant!

  4. Am sure I would be impressed to be served this in a cafe! Sorry I missed the shindig! However I am curious - I had a feeling that you didn't like peas much - was I wrong or has it changed?

  5. What sort of wasabi are you using - the fake stuff out of a tube, or the real deal?

  6. Hayley, Leaf, Zo - thank you! Give it a go, and up the wasabi if you're feeling brave. :-)

    Johanna, you have quite a memory! It's me that doesn't much like frozen peas. This was pushing my limits - I reckon it'd be much better still with fresh peas or broad beans.

    Andy - it was the stuff in the tube. I imagine freshly grated wasabi would give it a much heftier kick!