Fried Tofu with Rice Noodles and Black Bean Sauce

Noodles and black bean sauce has always been one of my favourite Chinese dishes. I used to eat it on Shaftsbury Avenue when I was in my early twenties, in those Chinese restaurants that were permanently busy and where they would cram you in at tables next to complete strangers to eat your food (It was a good way of meeting new people). I’ve made this one using fried tofu and tender stem broccoli, in addition to red peppers and onions. Stir-fries are a good way of cooking vegetables while retaining their nutritional value. Cooking the sauce at the end helps finish off the veg (particularly the broccoli, which can be underdone when stir-frying alone).

The tofu for this is deep-fried, so it is important to get it as dry as you can beforehand. If you don’t have a tofu press (and I don’t), the best way is to wrap the tofu in a towel and put some heavy weights on top for at least 10-15 minutes. The water will absorb into the towel, leaving you with a much drier tofu. To get it extra dry, you can always unwrap it and wrap it again in either a dry part of the towel, or with a fresh one. Remember to never fill your pan for deep frying more than half-full of oil, as it rises significantly when you put something in it to cook. If you have small children, always put the deep-frying pan at the back of the stove for cooking.

The only item in this recipe that is not gluten-free is the dark soy sauce. Switch for tamari if you need to.


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Prep time: 20 minutes. Cooking time: 15-20 minutes, plus 12 minutes for the tofu to fry.

Serves 3-4

Easy to make gluten-free.

Ingredients:

1x400g pack of firm tofu, fully drained using the method described above, and cut into large squares

Enough vegetable oil for deep frying

1 can of black beans, washed and drained

2 tbsp sesame oil

2 red peppers, large diced

1 large onion, large diced

100g tender stem broccoli

2 tsp garlic puree

1 tsp ginger puree

For the Sauce:

250ml hot vegetable stock

4 tbsp dark soy sauce

¼ – ½ tsp hot sauce, depending on how hot you like it (it should be a background flavour)

30ml cider vinegar

4 tbsp brown sugar

To Serve:

1 pack pre-cooked rice noodles

1 red chilli, finely sliced to garnish


Method:

First heat the deep-frying oil so that it is hot enough to fry the tofu. You can test it by putting a piece in. It will bubble immediately when it is ready. Deep-fry the tofu for approximately 12 minutes, stirring from time to time to ensure even cooking. The tofu will be brown all over and crisp when it is done. Drain on kitchen paper and set aside.

While the tofu is frying, wash and drain the black beans, so that they are quite dry by the time you come to cook them.

Heat the sesame oil in a wok or large frying pan and fry the peppers and onions together for about 4-5 minutes. Add the broccoli and cook for 4 minutes more, stirring often.

While this is cooking, make the sauce by putting all of the sauce ingredients into a jug or bowl and mixing together. Set aside until ready to use.

Add the black beans to the other vegetables in the wok and cook for 3 more minutes, then add the garlic and ginger. Give it another 2 minutes and then pour over the sauce. It will begin to bubble and reduce immediately. Allow to reduce on a high heat for 3 minutes or so, then put the fried tofu into the dish and heat through. Finally, add the rice noodles and stir until completely mixed.

Serve into bowls and top with the sliced chilli if desired.


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