Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Pockmarked-Face Lady's Tofu 麻婆豆腐

I stumbled across a lot of interesting translations on menus while I was in China; 'Chicken Without Sexual Life;', 'Public Explosion Chicken' and 'Old Adopted Mother Fillet' to name a few.  But no other caught my eye, and my taste buds, more than Pockmarked-Face Lady's Tofu - or perhaps better translated to Bean Curd with Spicy Minced Pork.

A classic tofu dish and the best use for lip-numbing Sichuan pepper oil that I know, Mapo tofu is up there with the best of tasty vegan Chinese cooking.  Easily made without the pork, to this day it is still my favourite way to eat silken tofu.   And sure, with a delightful name like that why wouldn't you give it a whirl!


1 box firm silken tofu, diced into cubes
2 tbs Yeo's Hot Bean Sauce
1 tbs Lee Kum Kee Chili Garlic Sauce
1 nob of ginger, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 tbsp soy sauce
3 spring onions, finely chopped
¾  cup water
1 tsp corn starch, mixed with 3 tbsp water
1 tbs Sichuan peppercorn oil
1 tbs sesame oil
1 tsp sugar
salt to taste
cooking oil


Dice the tofu into cubes and set aside.

Heat a good few tablespoons of oil in a wok and fry the garlic and ginger for a few minutes.

Add a handful of the spring onion whites and then the two bean sauces and fry until fragrant and red.

Add in the water, soy sauce and sugar, mix together then carefully add in the tofu.

Bring the whole mixture to the boil and let simmer for a few minutes.  Add salt to taste and a good few dashes of the Sichuan Pepper oil and sesame oil before adding a few spoons of the corn starch mixture and let simmer until it thickens.

Sprinkle with the remaining spring onions and serve with rice.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Spinach & 'Cheese' Vol au Vents

I've always had a thing against vol au vents, with their unnatural symmetry and dull beige exterior.  Just once glanced instilled thoughts of salmon, creamy chicken and boring wedding bands.  But just as first impressions aren't always correct, it seems I was looking at them wrong the whole time.

A huge fan of pies as a child, I was alas never any good at making pastry and then suddenly it dawned on me - vol au vents are the answer!  Little open top pie casings staring at me all along - and they are vegan! Perfect for parties and potlucks, this dish takes no time at all, plus you can prepare everything beforehand and then just pop them in the oven to heat before serving.  Deeeelish!

Spinach & 'Cheese' Vol au Vents


1 packet of Jusrol Vol au Vents
1 packet baby spinach
½ large packet of form tofu
1 small onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tbs nutritional yeast
1tbs lemon juice
1tbs pine nuts, toasted (optional)
pinch nutmeg
salt and cracked black pepper to taste
olive oil


Heat the oven and prepare the vol au vents according to the packet instructions.

While they are busy rising, heat some oil in a pan and add the onion, frying until translucent.

Add garlic and fry for a few minutes before adding the nutritional yeast, pinenuts and tofu.

Use a spatula to break up the tofu into small pieces before folding in the spinach.

Cook until the spinach has wilted, draining any excess liquid.

Season with lemon juice, nutmeg, salt and cracked pepper.

Once the vol au vents are done, simply fill each casing with the filling and serve!