I have a confession to make. I'm a rubbish vegetarian. I'd never cooked with tofu before today.
I know, it's ridiculous. I always choose it at Chinese restaurants (tofu in black bean sauce, mmm), but I had never dared to cook it at home. After a terrible experience cooking tempeh (that stuff was NOT nice!), I was afraid that I would ruin tofu as well.
Really, I shouldn't have put it off for so long. This recipe was so easy, and really tasty. I can understand that tofu isn't for everyone, but if you do like it, you should try it this way. I'll definitely be cooking with tofu again.
If you haven't tried tofu before, its texture is a bit like a firm omelette. It doesn't have much of a flavour of its own, which is why it's so good - you can make it taste completely different depending on what you put on it.
Tofu on its own doesn't taste as dry as, say, a lump of plain Quorn would, but you'll still probably want to put this with something juicy or saucy. I think it'd be great on top of a salad to add a bit of flavour and protein.
The recipe calls for red chilli, and it ends up being fairly spicy. If you're a bit of a wimp like me, I would still recommend cooking with the chilli, but you don't have to dish it all up onto your plate - it'll still flavour the tofu in the pan. Or if you prefer it hotter, use more chilli or a spicier variety.
Spicy lemon and black pepper tofu
Recipe adapted from For The Love Of Food
400g firm tofu
1tbsp sunflower oil
1 lemon, juice only
1tsp cracked black pepper
1tsp red chilli, finely chopped
Cut the tofu into 1/2cm slices, and then press it to remove any excess water. If you don't have a tofu press, just sandwich the slices of tofu between several sheets of kitchen paper or a clean tea towel, and place a heavy object on top. Leave it for at least 10 minutes.
Heat the oil in a frying pan, and add the slices of tofu in a single layer. Add a good squeeze of lemon, and plenty of black pepper. Cook for several minutes, until the underside of the tofu is beginning to brown, and then turn each piece over. Add another squeeze of lemon and more black pepper, along with the finely chopped chilli. Cook for several more minutes.
Continue turning the tofu, adding more lemon juice and pepper each time, until it becomes as brown and crispy as you would like it. You may not want to add the entire lemon's worth of juice.