Growing up, I knew I was a bit different from other children my age. My dad took me to various food places and food festivals, including trips around Southall, which to those who are not familiar with is smaller version of India, and never fails to surprise me how late everything stays open compared to the sleepy town I live in! In addition during these various trips and years, I had the opportunity to try lots of different cuisines and as a result, my cooking style is now rather varied and I happily dip in and out of various cuisines, loving all but with no particular favouritism, other than perhaps a genuine love for Oriental flavours. When I was at secondary school, a long, long time ago, I studied food technology at GSCE, and I remember my final piece of coursework was all about Chinese cooking and this cuisine as a result of the studies, and my above mentionned love of the Oriental flavourings, I am probably most experimental with. Somehow despite this, this was actually my first attempt at cooking with Tofu, having only ever eaten it very sparingly within spicy dishes or soups in restaurants. During a venture into Chinatown the other week, following a very civilised afternoon tea with a girfriend, within a mecca of a supermarket spread over many floors and seemingly catering for everything it would appear from the Orient, I had picked up a block of ‘firm silken tofu’ on a whim and decided I would finally try and do it some justice. I’ve heard lots of people say how bland it was but in my head that’s how I feel about pasta/ rice etc – they too are bland, but with a little love are so easy to transform into something quite beautiful.... Just look at all that lovely crispyness! Try not to eat them all before serving! This was also the first time deep frying where I live now, always a bit scary but it was fine apart from a couple of new blisters on my arm! Remember to never leave hot fat unattended and keep safe! On a separate note Sharp’s brewery had sent me some beers from their 'Connoisseurs' range, one of them being a honey spice one, which I thought would work well with sort of Chinesey flavours… and it did a great job too! Very smooth with hints of sweetness of honey and lovely gently spiced notes to it. Also in their range is a rather drinkable Single brew, which is perfect for a warm summer evening, and last but not least a rather potent Quadrupel Ale, which I actually googled the units on as felt a little tipsy after 'testing'! I am unashamedly for a woman a keen ale drinker but whilst it was drinkable, was just a little too strong for me! In my next post I am giving away a set of the three beers so come back soon! Serves two Tofu ingredients: 225g firm silken tofu *I had too much batter - use the whole pack of tofu if desired or you could probably sneak some veg too with the excess! 125ml honey spice beer – chilled 125ml ice cold water 250g plain flour ½ tsp salt 1 egg yolk Sunflower oil for frying Honey and Soy Vegetable Noodle Stirfry ingredients: Fine Noodles - Enough for two - I like the fine rice ones but choose any you like ½ red pepper, sliced into chunks 2 sticks celery, sliced at an angle into 1cm chunks 5 chestnut mushrooms, sliced 2 tsp dark soy sauce 3 tsp Chinese cooking wine (or beer) 1 heaped tsp cornflour Black pepper to taste - freshly ground Squirt runny honey 1 clove minced garlic Heaped tsp freshly grated ginger Egg white Once the batter has been made – it needs using so make sure everything else is ready to go! Sunflower oil for frying - roughly 2cm in a large pan, allow plenty of bubbling space! Heat to when a small cube of the tofu browns within 30 seconds or so Note: Chilling the tofu will probably work best - I did mine from the cupboard and was a little soft and I couldn't use the whole block, hence my note above saying to use it all up - would do three servings instead Start by chopping the tofu into roughly 1cm chunks. Sprinkle with a little of the flour and gently toss in it to lightly coat Beat the egg yolk, then add in the beer and water, stir in the remaining flour and salt. Gently add the tofu to the mix, use a slotted spoon to transfer to the hot oil, don't crowd the pan - it will need to be done in batches. Cook for around 3 minutes or until crispy and lightly golden, gently turning if needed. Drain on plenty of paper. Meanwhile, heat a little vegetable oil in a wok or large saute pan, whisk the leftover egg white and fry quickly until just cooked, remove from the pan and shred. Then stir fry the vegetables for approximately 3-4 minutes until just cooked. Blend the honey, wine, soy, garlic ginger, black pepper and cornflour together, add a little water to loosen if needed. Pour over the vegetables and heat through - it should just lightly coat everything. Boil the noodles as per packet instructions, drain well and add to the cooked vegetable mix and stir together. Serve on plates and top with the crispy tofu and shredded egg white.