Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Tofu curry

God I fucking hate summer so much.

I know I've said this before, but it's worth saying again. Hate, hate, hate. I would try and blame it on my parents somehow, in the way that I manage to blame everything else on them, but I think summer may be my problem.

Where did it all go wrong? We had pretty dreamy summers as children, I think. Big garden, swing, making mud pies, all that. It was in my teens that things took a turn for the bad.

I often thought that working might be a good idea before I learned that London in August is a cauldron of awfulness and every day that you are there you feel a bit self-conscious, like you really ought to be on holiday. I always felt that the city was looking at me in mild curiosity the way that people do when you go back to school after you've left sixth form. "What are you doing here? Why are you here?"

And nothing happens. It's so boooorring. Day after day of nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing. If I do anything for my child it will be to send it to get tennis lessons, so it will have something to do in the summer. I have already started trying to make friends at Kentish Town city farm, so Kitty's got somewhere to go when I boot her out of the front door on summer holiday mornings, light a fag and shout "Don't come back til it's dark."

The only solution is to go away for as long as financially feasible in August. If that means staying in the UK, so be it. We went to France last year and were eaten alive by mosquitoes the size of kittens and rained on for 1 week solidly. So this year we are going to Sussex to see if anything happens there.

Now, don't laugh at me about this tofu curry. I haven't turned into a hippy, I was just curious about tofu. I have never cooked with it before and thought I ought to rectify this because I always eat it in Chinese restaurants and think it is nice. So the other night I made a tofu curry and it was really fantastic and I was very pleased with it.

If you've never cooked with tofu, don't be scared. The secret is prepping it. So you get a block of it in a packet (I used some by Cauldron from ... all together now... WAITROSE!), take it out, drain it, wrap it in kitchen towel and then press it between two chopping boards weighed down with something heavy [insert joke about my fat ass here].

I did this for 10 minutes, but I think next time I will do it for 20. It makes the tofu tighter and more likely to take on colour and texture when you fry it off, which you do in a pan with some oil in. It takes a while to fry off - about 20 minutes to do a really good job.

As with all veggie curries, this requires a lot of ingredients, but it is worth it. And it'll give you something to do to pass the time until summer's over.

Esther's tofu curry

For the curry paste

2cm knob fresh ginger
1 chilli, seeds in or out, up to you
1 tsp tamarind paste (don't worry if you haven't got it)
2tsp soy sauce
1 tsp fish sauce
2 kaffir lime leaves (if you have)
2 cloves garlic
2 spring onions
1 heaped tsp tomato puree
1/2 tsp runny honey
1/2 bunch coriander (if you have)


1 block tofu
1 large can or two small of coconut milk

and any combination of

sugar snap peas
bamboo shoots
baby sweetcorn
baby pak choi

1 Prepare the tofu as described and chop into chunks. Put all ingedients for the curry paste in whatever manner of whizzing machine you possess and whizz.

2 Fry off the curry paste for about 5 minutes over a medium flame. Fry off the tofu, add to the curry paste and stir. Add the coconut milk and stir further, being careful not to mash up the tofu blocks. Let this simmer for a few minutes.

2 Drop in your other veg and let the whole lot simmer for 5 minutes. If you're using pak choi, put a lid on your pan to help it all steam.


  1. may I also suggest freezing your tofu? after it's thawed, the texture changes slightly, to something a bit meatier. also makes it much easier to squeeze out. just a suggestion, if you have a go at it again!

  2. Now I like you even more as you are turning into a veggie hippy. Well done you!

  3. Well done and good try, and all, but really, honestly, wouldn't all that have tasted just as good if you'd missed the tofu out altogether? I suffer from tofu-resistance. I can't get my head round it or the need for it, except that one needs protein. Please explain...

  4. I swear to god I was just thinking tonight about tofu curry and how I was really craving one, and here you are ! I'm so happy, everything I have cooked so far of yours has been lovely. I have of course then passed off said receipes as one my own little creations to friends and men im trying to impress. Mainly men...

  5. I know it is early/late on in the morning/evening, but I have just read this post & thought it was great! And it is true, summer is booooooring! :) But, I know your blog will keep me entertained.

  6. I really like tofu and the cauldron brand is excellent for frying and using in salads and curries etc. This year I had silken tofu for the first time in a Korean restaurant in California and I am now a convert to that too. I never knew what to do with silken because it is so soft, but I had it in a very spicy broth filled with shellfish, veg and tofu and it was delicious! I now do my own version at home a bit like a Tom Yum soup with prawns, squid and tofu in it. Particularly good the day after overindulging on booze and food.

  7. I am so with you on the summer thing. A friend of mine moved to Glasgow for the same reason. Her shoulders have not seen sunlight since.

  8. I really, truly hate summer so was delighted to hear your wee rant, it made me feel like I'm maybe not such an oddball. Hurrah! My theory is that the larger the chest a woman has, the less she enjoys summer. Hear me out – I am the owner of what could be termed a 'decent pair' and am currently BOILING as I can't do strapless, can't do spaghetti straps, can't do floaty. It's structured proper clothes for me and that's truly miserable when the temperature is anything over tepid. Just a thought. Recipe looks nice too!

  9. I'm all about winter. My pale Scottish skin actively repels the sun. So I will agree with summer hatred.

    I will not however try tofu. Sorry.

  10. come stay in Lincolnshire... we have loads of stuff to do... such as staring at cows and pointing at owls... it's great!

  11. Yeah, Cuthach try a suckling pig, that's something you might find to your taste.

  12. I don't really have a problem with the summer. What I hate is when weathermen/women look apologetic and say it's bad news when reporting a bit of drizzle. I wish they would just stick to the facts as I bloody adore the rain. What a great recipe - must try this soon.

  13. Ooh, Ola. That sounded NASTY! As though the refusal to try a bean curd protein means one must automatically be an enthusiastic consumer of baby animals. Have you never heard of the colour "grey"?

  14. Ha ha... I knew this would happen. (ie/ the beginnings of arguments in your comments section.) Welcome to mumsnet!

  15. If this were The Guardian there should now be a vicious bitch/butch fight between Ola Sowa and Cuthach about tofu, et (yawn) al.

  16. Amazing recipe and amazing blog!!! I'm so happy I found you!!! ciao

  17. I hate Summer because, since having a baby, I seem unable to regulate my body temp and just feel hothothothot all the time when it's sunny.

    When I had my daughter last April, many people said 'Oh, what a lovely time of year to have a baby. You can spend so much time outside with her!'. Yeah, beacuse it's such a lot of fun panicking about the sun, moving the parasol on the pushchair every 5 mins, trying to keep a hat on her, worrying if she's drinking enough... Meh.

    Also, thanks Jill for the tip about freezing tofu!

  18. O Claire I couldn't agree more. "Are you having a lovely summer with Kitty in the garden?

    "Oh yeah. She likes having hayfever, and being dive-bombed by wasps, and having the sun in her eyes, and being too hot."

    Esther x

  19. There's must be a bit of a tofu zietgisty thing going around at the moment - I'm doing a Sarah Brown's diet veggie Tofu Bobotie (spiced fruity African curry) tonight - thanks for the squeezing tofu tip...

  20. Maybe it's a Scottish thing but I'm not that into tofu either. Love the other ingredients though...maybe nice with baby aubergine instead of tofu?
    Currently in north north north Scotland where it is absolutely pissing down and still there are midges so summer here is not really like summer.

  21. You wouldn't want to have known me in me yout then. I got through bottled of baby oil, olive oil and bergasol zero factor. I won't even tell you about my sunbed habit In my defence, I was a teen in the 80s, but still can be found basking in the rays admittedly with my factoe 30 close to hand.
    Tofu, if you really want the good stuff, go Asian supermarket. I sort of like it , but really love it fried with a crispy outer layer....

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  23. Made this, absolutely delicious, thank you. Boyfriend said it was one of the best things he had eaten, ever. Yup. As for summer: spent the weekend hiding indoors watching dvds (and still managed to get stung TWICE, by the same wasp, in my kitchen - summer hates me).

  24. hey esther! just wanted to let you know that i've posted a link to your recipe on my blog - absolutely love this curry and i thought i'd be mean for me to pretend that i came up with it myself. i hope you don't mind!

  25. Thank you for providing a recipe for my first adventure with tofu.
    Fab curry and a great sauce base for chicken or fish as well.
    Thought the tomato and coconut milk combo worked really well and another first for me, helped thicken the sauce.
    Thanks again