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.

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