This is such a great recipe for this time of year: warming, comforting and yet incredibly healthy. It’s basically a vegan Japanese take on a classic English beef stew, with gravy, melting potatoes and flavourful chunks of carrot and onion. Crispy tofu takes the place of beef, which acts like a sponge soaking up all the lovely liquor. I first got the recipe when I did my Japanese cooking course a couple of years ago, but I’ve adapted it a fair bit since then to suit my taste and store cupboard. Do try it, the flavours you get from so few simple ingredients is really surprising.
- 1 pack deep-fried or regular firm tofu
- 2 large potatoes
- 2 carrots
- 1 white onion
- Handful green veg - French beans, sprouting broccoli, spring greens or pak choi would all work
- 20ml/1tbsp cooking sake
- 30ml mirin (Japanese sweet rice wine)
- 60ml dark soy sauce
- 1 tsp brown sugar
- Sprinkle of nanami togarashi / shichimi (Japanese hot spice mix) - optional
- Peel the potato, carrot and onion and chop into large chunks. Heat some vegetable oil in a wok or casserole and fry the veg for 5-10 minutes on a med-high heat. You want good colouring all over.
- Mix the seasonings (sake, sugar, mirin and soy) in a small bowl and add to the pan, then add water to just cover the veg and bring to a simmer. Cover and leave to bubble gently away.
- If you're using non-deep fried tofu you need to pre-fry it. Slice into 1cm pieces and blot well with kitchen paper. Dust with corn flour and shallow fry in oil on a medium heat until golden and crisp on both sides. After the veg has been cooking about ten minutes, add the tofu to the top of the pan.
- After another ten minutes,add the green veg. Give another five minutes to just cook the green veg - the potatoes should be soft and cooked through now and the sauce reduced a little. Sprinkle in the nanami togarashi if using, or season with black pepper (it shouldn't need salt)
- Leave for 5-10 mins off the heat to get all the flavours fully mingled, and serve on its own or with sticky rice. Serves 2 with leftovers to spare (it tastes great the next day), or 4 with rice.