Never underestimate the strength and benefits of local produce. Although I have in the not so distant past rambled on about the gorgeous ingredients I picked up at the vegetable market, I do not restrict this concept to fresh ingredients, but even to pantry staples. A lot of times, we tend to pick certain imported brands or products that we are familiar with, rather than its local counterpart or substitute, often because we focus on authenticity in flavour.
In the last few years, there has been an amazing growth of local brands selling stellar products not traditionally available here, ranging from perfectly portioned healthy snacks, freshly grated parmesan, fresh tofu, sparkling passionfruit juice, dried herbs and seasonings, freshly roasted coffee beans, you get the gist!
In the Joie De Vivre kitchen, when the urge to have a Mexican fiesta arises, I no longer scour the city for that ginormous packet of Tostitios, which barely survives it journey across the seven seas without breaking down into crumbs. Now, all I have to do is pick up the telephone and ask the corner shop guy to send over a few packets of the fast moving and perfectly flavoured Sea Salt Cornitos. And no, this isn’t a sponsored post- I genuinely believe these chips to be a cut above the rest.
That’s how this post began.
I always get to the starting point a bit late.
Tofu, it seems, has deserted the city for just over 6 months now. So long, that at times I almost forgot it to be an essential in my kitchen (which typically, always is). Just when I was going to forever write it off, I learnt that local fresh tofu is available, and to add to this revelation, it is available at a fraction of the cost of those imported little tetra pack boxes I have been craving! Such a relegation deserved a starlight tofu dish, and so here it is. Fresh tofu cooked to perfection with a hoisin glaze, floating in a miso flavoured broth with emerald green spring onions lacing above. Delicate yet comforting, this dish is a perfect meal in one bowl, with noodles of choice perfectly perched at the bottom of the soup.
- 250gm fresh tofu, pressed between two towels to drain out excess liquid
- 1 pak choy, leaves and base separated
- 2 cloves garlic, minced/grated
- 2 green onion
- 60gm fresh shitake mushroom
- 30gm enoki mushroom
- 3 tbs vegetable stock concentrate or 2 stock cubes mixed with 2 tbs water
- 1 tbs soy sauce
- 1 tbs miso paste
- 1/2 cup hoisin sauce
- 200gm soba noodles
- First off, prep the vegetables. Roughly chop the green leaves of the pak choy, then thinly slice the base stems. Thinly slice the green onion and separate the white bottoms and green leaves.
- For the mushrooms, discard the stems of the shitake, preserving only the caps. Thinly slice. Cut off 1-2 inches off the bottom of the enoki mushrooms.
- Cut the tofu into ½-inch cubes.
- Begin on the soup by heating a tbs of oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Stir fry the garlic, pak choy stems and the white parts of the green onion, until fragrant and soft. Stir in the vegetable stock, 4 cups of water, mushrooms, miso and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to the heat medium-low and continue to cook as the tofu cooks.
- In a small non stick pan, heat a tbs of vegetable oil until almost smoking, and add the tofu cubes. Cook till golden and crispy on all sides. Once done, turn off the heat and add the hoisin sauce and mix to coat each piece of tofu. Set aside.
- When ready to eat, add in the soba. Once al dente, add in the pak choy leaves.
- Divide the soup into eating bowls, add tofu to each bowl garnish with the green onion. Enjoy steaming hot with chopsticks and a soup spoon.