Tofu with coconut

Tofu Rendang

Quite often strange and wonderful foods are packaged with no explanations on how to eat them.

Take aduki beans. Gillian McKeith recommended them on British TV. The nation listened and duly bought them.

But what to do with those aduki beans? I bet you money some are still sitting in the back of people’s cupboards…

The more unusual the food, the more the food makers assume you know what to do with them.

This explains why I was so happy to receive a booklet (in this case free with this Sunday’s the Observer) on interesting ways to cook tofu.

I love the bland, digestible high-protein bean curd. But apart from stir-frying, I never quite know how to eat it.

The booklet from award-winning organic tofu makers, Cauldron, takes its inspiration from Asia where tofu is traditionally used and you are not seen as a weirdo for eating it.

Here’s my Winklerified version of its Rendang paste:

Toast 3 tablespoons of dessicated coconut in a dry, hot frying pan.

Make a paste: Blend (or whizz or pound) the toasted coconut with one cut raw onion, 1 mild fresh chilli, a chunk of raw ginger peeled and chopped, and a teaspoon of turmeric. No liquid needed.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy frying pan and gently fry the paste, stirring until the aroma is released.

Add 250 mls (a bit more than half a can) of coconut milk with 125 mls of water.

Blend a teaspoon of tamarind paste with a tablespoon of water, and add that along with 1 stick of cinnamon (see it floating on left of picture) and 4 star anise (I have had star anise in my cupboard for ages not knowing what to do with it…).

Bring the mixture to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Add the drained tofu pieces and cook gently for another 10 minutes. Stir in greens chopped in strips, such as fresh coriander or spinach or pak choi.

Serve as I did with brown rice and cubes of roasted sweet potato.

I am not known for my presentation skills when it comes to food. By the time I have cooked, I am in no mood for artistry. Hence the joy of eating out.

One of my fave local eating places is a gastropub on Bristol’s Gloucester Road Robin Hood’s Retreat.

The food is locally sourced and heavenly flavoured. I believe the chef is a master.

I had asparagus from the Wye Valley with a Scotch egg with the egg still warm and runny; pea puree and sea trout on a bed of lentils. Dinner for two with 1 glass of wine and two courses, came to about £50.

And all, as you can see, beautifully presented.

Robin Hood Retreat - asparagus from Wye Valley, scotch egg Robin Hood Retreat - pea puree, lentils (not pot) and sea trout

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17 responses to “Tofu with coconut

  1. The two most common ways of eating tofu in Japan (in my experience) are in small cubes in miso soup, or simply a cold chunk of tofu topped with crushed ginger and chopped spring onions which we then add a dash of soy sauce to.


  2. Hi Elizabeth,

    I knew there was a danger of commenting on blogs before I got mine in shape! That’s my task for tonight, getting my About page sorted out.

    Thanks for taking the time to have a look at what I wrote. That’s the first bit of feedback I’ve had so far!

    Currently I’m living in Japan but originally I’m from Scotland.

    Real Food Lover might be the first site to earn a place on my blogroll!

    All the best,


  3. I love your idea for a paste, and will try it forthwith. Yesterday I made a fabulous cherry sauce to have with some cold chicken or tofu. Just de-stone pound of cherry, put in pan, add water and sugar. Cherries are soooo good for you, too.
    Also, with tofu, you have to place it under heavy weights for a couple of hours to release all the moisture, esp. if you want it more crispy.


  4. Also, a tip from Mexican cuisine re: chillis. With the big yellow ones, you can bake them in the oven for 10 minutes and they make a tasty side dish.


  5. realfoodlover

    Phils, I love the sound of cherry sauce to go with a savoury dish – what a genius idea. And the English cherry season is open us too. Like the sound of the chilli too – does baking it reduce its fieriness?

    Andrew, there is nothing like having an audience to get the adrenalin going. That’s part of the joy of blogging I find. So you did well to comment and I did well to inadvertently motivate! Thanks for the Scotsman in Japan tag – look forward to hearing more. And I would be honoured to be on your blog roll!


  6. Ha ha ha!! I have some aduki beans roaming in the cupboard somewhere thanks to Gillian’s aduki bean stew. Don’t know if you ever tried the millet mash that went with it. NOT NICE


  7. Always good to read your blog. I agree about the Robin Hood, it’s very good, so’s La Barrique and The Lido in Clifton (went there with your sis on Saturday).
    I used to stick tofu in a Teryaki marinade and then stir fry or even barbecue it. Like the sound of your Rendang paste.


  8. Sarah Beattie

    Congratulations on being shortlisted for the Guild of Food Writers’ New Media Award, Elisabeth! Well done.


  9. realfoodlover

    Sarah, thank you! I have just found out! I am so thrilled, I am beside myself! There are not enough exclamation marks in the world to convey this!!!!!!

    Paul, I agree. La Barrique is one of my top faves too. And I am going to check out the Lido the week after next! Yipppeeeee!

    Emily – thanks for vindicating my Aduki Bean Theory. Ha ha!

    No, I don’t know the millet mash. I like millet! Was it that bad? How bad?!

    More exclamations marks! I am a happy bunny!!!!


  10. This is a great blog, well designed, fantastic lively writing, and nice comments. You should win! Can we lobby for you? Who do we write to?


  11. realfoodlover

    We have to lobby our ancestors because it is not a public vote. But THANKS!


  12. Sarah Beattie

    No, not a public vote but a jury of Elisabeth’s peers. They are all fellow food writers which is what makes being shortlisted such a prestigious accolade.


  13. Congratulations on being shortlisted for the Guild of Food Writers’ New Media Award, Elisabeth! Fingers crossed for you. You really deserve to win.


  14. realfoodlover

    Thank you, Sarah – a jury of peers puts it beautifully. For many food writers, being shortlisted is their ambition.

    As it was mine. But having achieved that ambition and been shortlisted, now I want to win. The Human Condition, or what? Never satisfied…So thanks, Natasha, for finger-crossing.


  15. I have just nominated you for Dorset Cereals blog competition – if they accept you as a nomination people will be able to vote for you there to satisfy voting urges.


  16. congratulations on your shortlisting – just found this blog via the bookseller website…. but have a terrible feeling i threw that tofu booklet away…. Your recipes look very tempting, i will be back!


  17. realfoodlover

    Hi Zoe, thank you.

    Out of the six recipes in the booklet, I rated the Rendang.

    Perhaps Cauldron will send you another booklet? I will ask them.

    Thank you, Ingrid Rose, for finding another outlet for my urges.


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