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Another fantastic recipe from the master of vegetarian cooking, Denis Cotter, of Café Paradiso in Cork. I (Jules) went there last week and got all inspired by tofu, having never been particular excited by it before. To avoid any confusion, tofu is bean curd and not “a meat substitute that tastes and looks just like meat” as the bewildered person at the table beside  me thought! There is quite a lot to do at the end of the recipe but it’s well worth the effort.

Maple-glazed tofu with rice noodles & kai-lan in a miso broth – to serve 4

  • 200g flat rice noodles
  • 1 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 300g kai-lan (Chinese kale) or sprouting broccoli
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced at an angle
FOR THE BROTH
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 celery sticks, chopped
  • 60g fresh ginger, thinly sliced
  • 1 whole fresh red chilli
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 bunch of fresh coriander, including stalks
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 3 tbsp red miso
FOR THE MAPLE-GLAZED TOFU
  • 3 tbsp maple syrup
  • 4 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tbsp chillis sauce
  • 250g firm tofu
  • vegetable oil, for brushing
First make the broth: in a large saucepan, bring 1 litre of water to the boil. Add the onion, carrot, celery, ginger, chilli, garlic and coriander. Simmer gently, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Leave to stand for a further 30 minutes.

While the broth is standing, prepare the tofu; mix together the maple syrup, soy sauce, vinegar and chilli sauce.

Slice the tofu into 16 slices about 1cm thick. Place in the liquid and leave to marinade for 20 minutes.

Heat a heavy frying pan over medium heat brush the pan with vegetable oil. Add the tofu and fry for 2-3 minutes per side, until lightly coloured. Pour in most of the marinade and continue to fry, swirling to make sure the tofu is coated, the marinade will stick to the tofu as a glaze. Add more marinade if necessary.

At the same time, bring a saucepan of water to the boil and cook the noodles according to the pack. Drain in a colander.

Finish the broth: strain out the vegetables and return the broth to the pan. Add the soy sauce.

Put the miso in a bowl and stir in a few tablespoons of the broth to get a smooth pouring consistency. Bring the broth back to the boil, whisk in the miso and hold at a low simmer.

Heat 1 tbsp of vegetable oil in a wide pan over high heat. Add the kai-lan and sauté for 4-5 minutes, adding an occasional splash of broth.

To serve, put some noodles in warm bowls. Place the kai-lan on top of the noodles. Ladle over some broth, top with slices of tofu and sprinkle with scallions.

Wine Suggestion: This is a dish which has a lot of competing flavours and components so a wine match isn’t easy. A yeasty beer or ale would work a treat like a Hobgoblin or a Leffe Brun to compliment the yeasty flavours provided by the miso.

(Original recipe from Denis Cotter for the love of food, Collins, 2011.)

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