CRISPY TOFU IN SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE | VEGAN DINNER RECIPES
My husband and I were recently at a lovely restaurant here in The Netherlands. It was a buffet dinner so we had a whole lot of options to pick from. This included meat dishes, sushi, cheeses and tons of desserts. Right at the corner was a Wok chef. You could pick between numerous proteins such as sea food, beef, tofu, add some vegetables and pass it on to the chef.. Tofu was a bit of a surprise for us considering we had been to this same restaurant few months prior and this option was not available. As we walked away we noticed some crispy tofu in another bowl. More tofu! We tossed some into our plates and walked back to our table. After tasting this battered tofu, I knew it that my dinner the next day would include some crispy tofu. Curious to see what I came up with?
KNOW WHAT YOU EAT
Tofu, or bean curd, is a popular food derived from soya beans. It is made by curdling fresh soya milk, pressing it into a solid block and then cooling it. This method is similar to the way that traditional dairy cheese is made by curdling and solidifying milk. The bean is mild-flavoured with a buttery taste and texture. It is commonly used in its original form in soups, salads and a lot of rice and noodles dishes.
Benefits of eating tofu
Tofu is a good source of protein and contains all nine essential amino acids. It is also an excellent source of iron and calcium and the minerals manganese, selenium and phosphorous. In addition, tofu is a good source of magnesium, copper, zinc and vitamin B1. Its versatility means it is used in savoury and sweet dishes and it is a main component in many East Asian and Southeast Asian dishes. 100g serving of tofu contains 73kcal, 4.2g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 0.7g carbohydrate and 8.1g of protein. Making it a great protein source for individuals who do not eat animal proteins. In China, tofu has been nicknamed “the meat without bones,” because of its versatility in creating so many “meat like” replacement products.
Soy protein is linked to a reduction in LDL cholesterol (bad cholesterol). A low LDL cholesterol reduces your risk of obesity and potentially reduces the risk of Cardiovascular Diseases. The 2015 OECD data showed that the obesity rate in Japan (a country that consumes a lot of tofu) was 3.7% compared to the United States with 38.2%, and United Kingdom with 26.9% of its population being obese. Higher-protein diets in general appear to modestly lower blood pressure and there are clinical data suggesting soy protein in particular is hypotensive. Soy is considered to be gut-friendly as it promotes the growth of healthy bacteria. Bone health is also enhanced.
There has been a lot of controversy with regards to soy protein and phytoestrogens. Phytoestrogens (plant oestrogens) are substances that occur naturally in plants. However these claims have been debunked thanks to the numerous researches done. A big one is the claim that the phytoestrogens (PE) in Soy leads to an increase in breast cancer. However research has shown that PE binds to a different estrogen receptor, ER beta. Hence causing a decrease in the risk of estrogen related cancers like breast cancer.
Furthermore, there is a worry that soy reduces testosterone levels but this is evidently false with the increasing number of vegan and vegetarian bodybuilders. Just like with everything else, soy should be eaten in moderation. Adverse effects may be seen when there is a soy overdose. This is not easy to reach as you would need to consume about 1720mg of phytoestrogens. Just for reference,
- 1 cup of cooked soybeans = 94 mg
- 6 ounces of tempeh = 74 mg
- 2 cups of soy milk = 60 mg
- 6 ounces of tofu = 40 mg
- Battered Crispy Tofu:
- 1 brick of firm tofu (500g)
- 1 Cup wheat flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 boullion cube
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1 Cup cold carbonated water
- 2 Cups vegetable oil (for frying)
- Sweet and Sour Sauce
- 2 tsp cornstarch mixed with 1/2 cup water
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger
- 1/2 tsp chili pepper flakes
- 1/3 Cup rice vinegar
- 1/4 cup sweet soy or 1/2 cup palm sugar
- 2 tbsp tomato paste
- 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
- Salt to taste
- 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
- Battered Tofu: Prepare the batter by mixing wheat flour, garlic powder, cornflour, a boullion cube, black ground pepper and a pinch of salt in a mixing bowl
- Wait with adding the carbonated water until the frying oil is hot and ready
- (Cold carbonated water causes the flour to be aerated. Causing the tofu to be crispy and not soak in the oil)
- Press out the water from your tofu
- Dice into small cubes.
- When the oil is ready, add 1 cup of water and mix; removing the lumps. (I taste my batter and add salt if needed)
- Toss the tofu cubes into the batter and coat it evenly.
- Using a fork, add about 10 cubes into the pan. (Do not overcrown the pan)
- Space them out so they do not stick.
- Repeat with all the remaining tofu cubes.
- Sweet and sour sauce:In a pan, heat up 1 Tbsp of vegetable oil
- Add your chopped garlic, ginger and pepper flakes until fragrant
- Add in your tomato sauce and continue to stir
- Add all the other ingredients except corn starch
- In a separate bowl, mix cornstarch and wateruntil it is a smooth suspension
- Add into the pan while stirring (this thickens the sauce)
- Remove pan from heat and mix in the tofu
- Serve with rice
The tofu takes a bit of time to fry if you are only adding a few at a time.