As someone who doesn’t particularly care for sandwiches, one of my aims in the kitchen is to construct a repertoire of foods which are just as good cold as they are hot and so can be taken to university for lunch. If I weren’t so fussy, this wouldn’t be an issue as I could just take sandwiches and make do but I am so I can’t. As a result, I ended up developing a selection of Asian style tofu dishes with different versions of my standard ‘teriyaki sauce’ as I have found tofu to be a very nice cold dish.
The reason I put ‘teriyaki’ in inverted commas is that this is not a classic teriyaki sauce, it has been westernised. A traditional version would have sake or mirin (types of rice wine) in it and would not have the sesame. As sake and mirin were very difficult to get hold of in the West when Asian food began to become popular, substitutions had to be made that would satisfy customers without changing the sauce too much. The replacement of mirin with sesame oil was one of these. The oil emulsifies into the sauce very well and doesn’t split during cooking – leading to a thick sauce packed full of flavour – and salt, so you shouldn’t need to season this at all. I sometimes add a little bit of rice vinegar if I have it in the house as it helps cut through the sweetness so you get a far more balanced sauce.
As with most cooking terms, the word ‘teriyaki’ comes from the combination of words describing the process. Teri describes the shine that this sauce gives to food because of the high sugar content and yaki refers to the actual cooking method of grilling or broiling. This origin of the word goes some way to explaining the reason why there is no ‘official’ recipe for teriyaki sauce in Japan. The only requirement is that it is a soy sauce based glaze. I could make an argument that, using this definition, my sauce is technically a teriyaki sauce as the result is a glossy dish but this version is certainly not authentic and is deeply rooted in western cuisine.
I hope you enjoy the recipe and decide that you want to try it out for your own lunches. Let me know what you think in the comments below!
Teriyaki Tofu with Coriander
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Cost per portion: around £1.20
60ml Dark Soy Sauce
60ml runny honey
40ml sesame oil
3 garlic cloves
1 tsp hot sauce (I use sriracha)
400g extra firm tofu
1 large carrot
I bunch spring onions
1 cup frozen edamame beans
20ml vegetable oil
If necessary: 2 tbsp cornflour mixed with 4tbsp water
I bunch of fresh coriander
Remove the tofu from its packaging and drain it. Wrap it in a hand towel and place it on a firm, flat surface with a heavy weight on top (a large cookery book is ideal). This will press any excess liquid out, making the tofu firmer and nicer to eat. (This is, of course, optional depending on how firm your tofu is to start with.)
To make the sauce, grate the garlic and whisk it together with the soy sauce, honey, sesame and hot sauce.
Cut the carrot into 2mm thick rounds and then cut these again to make tiny batons.
Slice up the spring onion.
After the tofu has been pressed for about ten minutes remove it from the towel
Cut the tofu into 1 or 2cm cubes.
Place the tofu and the vegetable oil into a non-stick pan and fry until the tofu begins to develop a hard crust underneath. This will soften later so don’t be afraid to get a little crispyness on the tofu.
Toss the tofu and continue to fry until most of it has formed a crust.
Remove the tofu from the pan leaving as much oil as possible in it as this will be used to fry the rest of the dish.
Add the carrots to the pan. Fry for two minutes on high heat and then add 50ml water. BE CAREFUL – this will spit a little. The water will help soften the carrots.
Fry for another three minutes until the water has mostly evaporated and then add the spring onion.
Fry for another minute before adding the frozen edamame beans.
Add another 50ml of water and cook until the water has all gone.
Tip in the tofu and the sauce mix. Simmer for at least five minutes to ensure the garlic in the sauce is fully cooked.
If the sauce is still very runny, add one tablespoon of the cornflour mix and stir it through. Continue to add more cornflour, cooking between each addition, until the sauce has reached a thick, oozing consistency. As this can be eaten cold, you do not want to add so much cornflour that the sauce sets when it cools.
Roughly chop the coriander and stir it through the still hot mixture.
Serve with rice either hot or cold! I like to take this to university with me for lunches as it doesn’t need to be hot to be delicious.
I hope you enjoyed the recipe. If you are a fan of tofu, check out my ginger tofu recipe, it’s another one which is good cold and my lord is it tasty. If, on the other hand, you are looking for something a little bit more on the sweet variety, why not treat yourself to a delicious devil’s food cake? It’s rich, chocolatey and devilishly good.
Have a good one and I will be back with a recipe for those of you looking to indulge your sweet tooth.