Archive for February 2010

Butchery Class at Allens of Mayfair

February 28th, 2010 — 7:52pm

Food classes are all the rage; I’ve been a dedicated student of  ham school, pig school, steak school and currently,  wine school. I never miss a chance to learn a skill from an expert and I was nothing short of ecstatic to be invited to a butchery class at one of London’s most renowned: Allens of Mayfair.

As our cosy group of six gathered around the famous octagonal butcher’s block to absorb information about safety and don some rather fetching protective gloves (secured around my dainty laydee hand with a couple of laccy bands), I found I became strangely nervous. The kind of nerves you get when you really want to make someone proud; it seemed that David (one of two owners) had already become like a favourite teacher – I didn’t want to let him down.

I needn’t have worried – this is about as friendly as it gets and yet utterly professional. We stood, mouths hanging agape watching David butcher a whole lamb, instructing us to ‘”let the knife do the work” and to “move the meat around – it’s already dead.” He shimmied it back and forth across the block with the ease of an entirely automatic action; the knife like a natural extension of his arm. To watch the pros at work is really something; I can see why many top London restaurants choose Allens, London’s oldest butcher’s shop, as a supplier.

We giggled as David mused on the difference between the male and female approach to the classes. Apparently men tend to barge in with testosterone fuelled caveman hackery while women, in general, adopt a more careful, considered style. A stereotype of course but also a valuable message: butchery is an art, a skill – not a lesson in who can make one lump of meat into many in the shortest time possible.

We began the class with the humble chook. Now I’ve hacked away at many a bird in my time and despite owning a copy of ‘Knife Skills Illustrated’ and having free and easy access to Google, I’m ashamed to say I’ve never looked up the proper method for jointing. That leg joint has flummoxed me on too many occasions; on Saturday I learned that all one needs to do to release that joint is put a hand underneath and push upwards.

The extra trick with the legs is also to preserve the ‘oyster’ – regarded by some (including, famously, Marco Pierre White) as the most delicious morsel of meat on the entire bird. I failed miserably on my first attempt but nailed it on the second (above, the one on the left has the oyster, at the top).

Next was oxtail; the trick here to locate each joint and then slice just next to it – your knife should glide through easily. If it doesn’t you know you’re off track. Most of us needed help – some joints are more elusive than others. Everyone took pride in lining up their pieces in size order as suggested.

After the simplicity of the oxtail it was on to a French-trimmed rack of lamb. This was daunting due to the need for sawing of bones but careful supervision left us all with a  rack to be proud of. No sniggering at the back please…

The grand finale was just that;  jitters set in – what if we made a wrong cut? A spectacular 3 bone piece of sirloin demanded all our attention and respect. The challenge was to remove the bone, the unwanted fat and gristle and roll, securing the joint with some surprisingly tricksy butcher’s knots. Our teachers really excelled themselves in terms of patience and attentiveness; we were all terrified of making a wrong slice on a clearly expensive piece of meat.

At the end of approximately 1 1/2 hours, a quick squiz around the room revealed a bunch of people with silly, cheesy grins. The team at Allens are charming, patient, funny and extremely good at what they do. That’s not a gushing, biased blurb but a heartfelt recommendation that you try this class for yourself. It costs £100 and you will take home valuable experience, knowledge and a shed load of high quality meat that you have butchered with your very own hands. It is extremely good value. Schoolin’ just doesn’t get better than this.

See Allens website for details. Type of meat and cuts change according to availability and season.

Allens of Mayfair
117 Mount Street,
London W1K 3LA
Tel: 020 7499 5831

Full Flickr set here

12 comments » | Classes, Food Classes, Meat

Recreating The Bobcat Burger (Hamburger America!)

February 21st, 2010 — 8:59pm

It used to be the case that I was in the minority; my obsession with burgers and their buns has been a long time raging. Now every London blogger, their partner, pet and best mate seems to be fixated on them. My main issue was always the bun, which was what led me to arrange The Great Bun Tasting and to make several batches of these.  They are pretty much the ideal bun – a slightly sweet brioche with a structure that is light yet robust enough to last without turning to mush.

The problem with burgers in London is that decent ones are so few and far between that when we do actually find one, everyone gets worked up to the extent that the hype exceeds reality. It’s like playing a favourite song to death; it becomes so familiar that you almost have to try harder to enjoy it. The Hawksmoor burger is a perfect example.

In America though, they do things differently; we are teased with stories of delicious burgers on every other block. The interesting thing though is that while they are generally regarded with appropriate respect, most seem completely unpretentious. Fast food; high quality; grabbed and gobbled. American burgers is a subject I spend quite a bit of time reading about but sadly, I’ve not yet had a chance to visit for real. My excitement at discovering The Meatwagon then, in an industrial estate on my very own home turf of Peckham, was off the scale and then some. It was there that I tasted my first Bobcat Burger; I’ve craved another ever since. My love affair with Hamburger America had begun.

Then I got my hands on this book by George Motz and, as if that wasn’t good enough, it came with a DVD which is, quite simply, brilliant. Motz basically journeyed across America in search of the best burger joints (100 made the final cut) and the result is a charming record of the daily lives of each joint, the history, the customers and of course, the burgers – some of which are simply outrageous.

The film opens for example with ‘Dyer’s Restaurant’ where, “it’s all about the grease” – deep fried burgers. Super thin patties are plunged into NINETY ONE YEAR OLD oil until cooked and then lifted out and squeezed, an oleaginous waterfall gushing forth. The grease is apparently ‘strained and processed’ every day but seriously, that fat has never been changed. Dyer’s consider this their selling point though and when they moved premises, the oil moved to the new location accompanied by a police escort and TV crew. Not joking.

Twenty minutes in and I was worried; a steamed burger with steamed cheese came next, followed by the peanut butter burger and then the plain old butter burger, which in case you are wondering is simply piled, piled with what I would estimate to be at least 5 or 6 tablespoons of butter. Amongst the extreme though there are the sublime and by the end of the film I was salivating.

The Bobcat Bite (New Mexico) is owned by John and Bonnie Eckre (above), who are very proud of their Green Chilli Cheeseburger. People actually come in coachloads to visit the place and often end up with a lengthy wait due to the limited seating capacity; Bonnie describes how customers have been known to wait for an hour outside without a grumble. The burgers are worth it.

The Bobcat is this: prime beef topped with chillies fried in butter; sinful juices seep through the meat. Cheese is then melted on top of the chillies, sealing the spicy layer. A sprinkle of their ‘famous’ tangy slaw provides crunch and contrast. When I found the recipe for Bobcat slaw in Hamburger America there was no stopping me; I made buns, the slaw and some patties from ground beef shoulder. Mild Turkish chillies were fried in butter, piled high and sealed with a cheesy vacuum. That cat was finally mine.

Some burger recommendations that will come as no surprise: if you live in London and you are not suffering from burger fatigue, I recommend you visit The Meat Wagon. It goes without saying that Hamburger America should also go on the wish list. While you are waiting for those things to happen, why not try the recipe/s below and inject a little New Mexican love into your boiger? It’s a taste sensation and no mistakin’.

Bobcat Burgers (from Bobcat Bite, New Mexico)

Ground beef shoulder, for making the patties, or ground beef of your choice. You want a good bit of fat in there basically. I wanted to experiment with a mixture of cuts but didn’t have time
Mild green chillies (or hot, up to you), sliced
Butter and a touch of oil, for frying
Cheese slice of your choice

I use this recipe for the buns – it’s the best I’ve come across

Bobcat Bite Slaw (from Hamburger America)
This is a half quantity. Double this apparently keeps the Bobcat Bite going for 1 day. It is best the day after it has been made.

1 small head white cabbage, core removed and finely shredded
1/2 large green bell pepper, grated
110g caster sugar (yep, really)
235ml white vinegar (trust me)
60ml flavourless oil, such as groundnut
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon celery seeds
1 tablespoon mustard

Mix it all together. Keep in the fridge and give it a good stir before serving.


Toast your buns. Gently fry your chillies in a healthy amount of butter (20g or so) and begin frying your burgers. I use a cast iron pan for this – if you have a proper hot plate then use that – I am jealous. When you flip the burger, it’s time to put those chillies on followed by the cheese. Once the cheese has melted you are good to go. Get that burger in that bun. Top with slaw (and anything else you fancy) and serve.

32 comments » | Barbecue, Bread, Burgers, Main Dishes, Meat, Sandwiches, Street Food

Beef Ragu Papardelle with Gremolata

February 17th, 2010 — 7:34pm

Few things wrap themselves around pasta quite like the ragu. Three and a half hours of gentle simmering and that meat is ready to embrace every fold, nook and cranny of carbohydrate. You wait a long time for it to collapse, reduce and intensify and so a generous portion is essential as a reward. When you’ve finished devouring, it is perfectly possible that you may need a lie down and then, probably, a nap.

I managed to stick out three and a half hours cooking this ragu. At one point I thought it might need four, and in my delicate mental state owing purely to the anguish of delayed gratification I almost shed a little tear. I’m sure none of you lot would be so fragile and unreasonable in the face of a half cooked stew though, so don’t let that put you off.

While the persona of the ragu is like that of a mature and erudite gentleman, the gremolata zips in with the energy of a three year old given free reign with the sherbet dip dabs. The chipper mix of lemon zest, parsley and garlic is, for me, the perfect condiment, skipping around those wintry depths with perky high notes.

This is solid Sunday food. It’s indulgent, comforting and takes a long time to cook. It also gives you time to get into character with it; I pretended I was Keith Floyd in his heyday as I poured an entire bottle of gutsy red over some large pieces of meat and then settled down with a glass of my own.

Beef Ragu Papardelle with Gremolata

800g beef shin
2 large carrots, finely diced
2 large sticks celery, lightly peeled and finely diced
2 onions, finely diced
2 bay leaves, slightly torn
1 tin good quality chopped tomatoes
1 bottle red wine (not crap)
2 large cloves garlic, very finely chopped
A large sprig of thyme, leaves only
Pasta, to serve

For the gremolata

Handful parsley leaves, very finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, very finely chopped
Zest of 2 unwaxed lemons, finely chopped or grated (if you can only get waxed lemons, give them a good scrub under a hot tap)

Add some olive oil to a large, heavy based pan and add the onions, celery, carrots, bay leaves and garlic and sweat gently, with the lid on, for 10-15 minutes until they softened. Season the beef shin well all over and add it, plus everything else. Bring to the boil then turn down very low, put the lid on and simmer gently for 3-4 hours, until the sauce is thick and the meat is falling off the bone. Remove all the pieces of bone and discard. Flake up the meat if it hasn’t done so by itself and add back to the sauce. Adjust the seasoning and serve mixed through pasta of your choice (papardelle is good as it is quite big and robust).

For the gremolata, just mix everything together and sprinkle over your pasta.

34 comments » | Main Dishes, Meat, Pasta, Sauces, Condiments and Spreads

The Best Chicken Sandwich of My Life…

February 13th, 2010 — 12:42pm


I was more excited about this sandwich than I was about the dish that made it happen – chicken with 40 cloves of garlic. That’s the kind of tunnel vision you find yourself dealing with when you’re a sandwich obsessive; always focused on where the next fix is coming from. It wasn’t just the leftover chicken that got me thinking so much as all that remaining oil – 200ml of the stuff. It struck me that this precious garlic, herb and chicken infused oil would make possibly the best garlicky mayonnaise I’d ever tasted. It did.

I’ve never mixed mayonnaise so carefully, such was the strength of my opinion that this oil was the most exquisite leftover to pass my way in a very long time. The result was a wobbly pot of  yellow goo which had ‘stick me in your face or stick your face in me right now’ written all over it. I mixed it with chunks of the leftover white and dark chicken meat and of course, lots of crispy skin bits.

It was time for The Build. This starts with the best bread you can find – I chose a classic white bloomer from the German bakery Luca’s in East Dulwich. It ain’t cheap but the bread is worth it; dense crumb, real flavour, perfect crust. Chicken-mayo mix heaps generously on one side of the sandwich and I smeared a few of those sweet roasted cloves onto the other.

With richness of course must come balance and the bitter leaves of a curly endive mixed with lemon juice and generous amounts of salt and pepper did the job perfectly.

All that could be heard for a full five minutes was chewing, interspersed by me spluttering, “best…chomp chomp…chicken…chomp…sandwich” – pieces of stray endive dropping on to my top and blobs of mayonnaise on my chin. It wasn’t pretty; I was out of control. Such is the power of a good sandwich.

My Ultimate Chicken Sandwich

First, you need to improve your quality of life considerably by treating yourself to this dish. Then you’re set to take the highway straight to leftover heaven central.

First, make your mayo. Put two large egg yolks in a clean bowl and whisk them together. Begin adding the oil a few drops at a time, whisking as you do so and making sure each bit of oil is fully incorporated before adding the next. As you whisk more oil in and the mayo starts to thicken, you can start adding the oil in slightly larger quantities until you are steadily adding it in a thin stream. The key with mayo is to be cautious with the oil until you get a feel for making it. If you add too much at once, it will split. If this happens, don’t despair. Take a fresh egg yolk in a clean bowl and begin adding the split mixture into it, very slowly, just as if it were the oil. This should bring it back.

Stop when the mayo reaches the desired thickness. Add lemon juice and seasoning to taste.

(This, by the way, is why I didn’t use extra fruity olive oil when I made my chicken, as the flavour would have been too strong for the mayo. The leftover oil is also great for roasting vegetables – particularly broccoli, and in salad dressings).

Mix the mayo with your leftover meat and heap onto one piece of bread. Spread some leftover garlic cloves on the other piece. Add some curly endive or other bitter salad leaves mixed with a generous amount of lemon juice and seasoning. Sandwich together. Eat and forget your troubles ever existed.

29 comments » | Meat, Sandwiches

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic

February 9th, 2010 — 8:13pm

I’ll admit from the off that I was slightly scared. Not by the quantity of garlic you understand – of course it mellows considerably with roasting – but by the oil; 250ml of olive oil settled into a deep golden pool in the bottom of my battle scarred roasting dish. I did consider slashing the amount but then as someone pointed out in the comments on my tofu post recently – I don’t do things by halves.

This dish comes from Provence, land of olive oil and garlic. A full forty cloves stew gently in the fruity elixir, and by the time the chicken is cooked, they are transformed to a soft savoury paste which can be squidged from its papery home and smeared onto the chicken, or good bread, or into mashed potato. A sprig or two of thyme and a couple of bay leaves add their own perfume and the whole heady medley gets right into that chicken – and your soft furnishings – beautifully. Febreeze eat your heart out.

If you are thinking of making this dish – and I cannot encourage you enough to do so – then this article and this one, are definitely worth a read. There are a few controversial points to consider, such as whether to peel or not to peel when it comes to the garlic (don’t) and whether or not one should brown the chicken before roasting. I recommend that you do. The whole thing is baked under foil you see and I ended up having to try and crisp at the last minute once I got around to thinking about what was (or was not) going to happen. Flabby chicken skin does not float my boat.

Once you’ve browned then, the bird goes into the roaster (or a suitable casserole like a Le Creuset) and is surrounded by the other ingredients. I also shoved some plant matter into the cavity. A bit of lemon would have been nice. The bird is seasoned generously, covered with foil and baked for 45-50 minutes; the result is roast chicken heaven. I’ve never eaten a bird like it, and I’ve roasted a fair few chickens in my time.

When it comes to resting, I recommend positioning her with her legs (mine spectacularly yellow, from corn feeding) sticking up in the air – a trick I learned from Adam Byatt at Trinity. This means that all the juices seep down towards the breast, leaving you with moist, succulent meat. To serve, most recommend mashed potato but I just didn’t fancy it in the face of all that richness and made a salad of bitter curly endive dressed liberally with a lemony dressing. Juices were mopped with hunks of good bread.

I’m really happy that I went the whole hog with this dish, because the leftover oil has been a source of much excitement over the past couple of days. I can’t wait to tell you what I did with the leftovers. The carcass went into the stock pot too so that one decent chicken has been the base for three meals each for two people. It’s the gift that just keeps on giving.

Chicken with 40 Cloves of Garlic (I basically used this recipe)

One well treated, free-range chicken
250ml olive oil (I didn’t go too fruity because I had plans for the remains. All will soon be revealed)
40 cloves of garlic or thereabouts (that’s four whole bulbs), papery bits removed but not peeled
A sprig of thyme (plus a bit extra for the cavity)
A sprig of rosemary (I didn’t use this, but it can’t be a bad thing)
2 bay leaves
A bit of lemon would be nice come to think of it
Salt and pepper and lots of it

Preheat the oven to 180C

Un-truss the chicken and remove all fat from the cavity – if you look just inside there are two blobs, one on either side – cut them off. Drizzle a little oil over the chicken and rub it in. You can now brown the chicken on the stove top, which is what I wish I’d done. You can use your casserole or roasting dish for this if it’s big enough, and then just transfer it into the oven.

Surround it with the garlic cloves, herbs and bay, then stick the other herbs (and maybe lemon) inside the cavity. Pour the oil around. Season the chicken very generously, then cover with foil and seal tightly. Roast it for 45-90 minutes depending on the size of your chicken. Baste it 2-3 times during cooking. The chicken is cooked when you insert a skewer at the thickest part of the leg and when pressed gently, the juices run clear. The legs will also feel looser when the bird is cooked.

Rest the bird with its legs in the air, covered with foil. It will sit happily for at least 20 minutes, while you make a salad, cut some bread, pour a glass of wine etc. Serve with a little of the oil drizzled over the top, a bitter green salad and some good bread or potatoes.

28 comments » | Main Dishes, Meat

Chicken Pie for Lurpak

February 6th, 2010 — 1:04pm

I have been asked many times to name the ingredient I cannot live without. The answer has always been the same: butter. Fat makes things taste good and we all know it. Crumpets oozing with butter that dribbles down your chin with every bite; a roast chicken smothered and crisped and dipped in the buttery pan juices; a fresh hot paratha smeared generously with ghee. You get the idea.

As a blogger you get approached by a lot of people wanting you to help them promote things;  e-mails ping into the inbox with the opening line, “I think this may be of interest to your readers.” This one was different though. For a start they actually wanted me to go and cook something which, you know, I’m quite keen on doing and secondly, well, I really love butter don’t I. Would I come and make a pie for the new Lurpak ad campaign? Damn right I would.

And so I found myself at a studio in Shoreditch one sunny afternoon cooking up a chicken and fennel pie. There was also a home economist there who, thankfully, was very entertaining. I usually can’t stand sharing a kitchen with anyone. We made two pies, just to make sure that they could capture ‘the shot’. The idea was to make the pie look as ‘epic’ as possible. It had to be a beast – a tall, proud, epic beast. This was where the home economist came in, employed as she is to make food look ‘right’ for ads and mags and books etc.

The result was a shiny domed beauty; a steaming, puffy, bubbling pot of meat and pastry. I wanted to eat it but of course, couldn’t. It was whisked away to be lit and snapped and lit and snapped again. It was a whole new world to me, this advertising business. The main thing I learned is that there is a huge amount of hanging around. All in all though, a fun day and an experience I’d definitely repeat. They also asked me to come in for a casting for the TV ad, but sadly I couldn’t make the date, being as I was on my way to Lisbon.

In the end, that perfect shot was achieved and it was time for me to go home and for Jeanne to start baking her cupcakes. The ad campaign is featured on billboards around the country – I’ve already seen it in Old Street and last night spotted one on my own turf in Peckham! It’s rather nice to see my little pie all big and out there on its own in the city, doing its best to encourage people to cook and use more butter. Now that’s a message I can really get behind.

Chicken and Fennel Pie

(fills an 18-20cm pie dish)

1 free-range chicken, cooked (I used a roast chicken but you could use cooked chicken pieces if you don’t want to roast one).
2 bulbs fennel, tops, bottoms and core removed and finely sliced
1/2 large onion, sliced
4 rasher smoked bacon, diced
1 large leek, sliced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 small handful of chopped parsley
Splash of white wine
A dollop of wholegrain mustard (optional)
Oil, for cooking

350 – 400ml bechamel or white sauce (bought or home made)

For the pastry

The pastry is puff but I prefer shortcrust so here’s my recipe. Just use whichever you prefer.

100g Lurpak, at room temperature
220g plain flour (not strong white bread flour)
A large pinch of salt
1 egg, beaten

Prepare the pastry by sieving the flour and salt into a large bowl. Cut the softened butter into cubes and add it to the bowl. Using a knife, start cutting the butter into the flour until it is fairly well mixed. You can now use your hands to start rubbing the butter into the flour – do this as lightly as possible. If you try to squidge the butter between your fingers too much the pastry will become tough. When it resembles fine crumbs, get some cold water (the colder the better) and add a tablespoon at a time, cutting it in with the knife each time, until it starts to come together. When it starts to form large lumps, use your hands to bring it together into a ball. It should leave the bowl clean. Rest in the fridge for 30 minutes.

Heat a splash of olive oil in a pan and add the bacon to it. Once the bacon is cooked add the leeks, garlic, fennel and onion (plus the wine if using) and cook on a very low heat with the lid on for around 15 minutes.

Preheat your oven to 200C.

To assemble the pie divide the pastry into two portions – one portion should be two thirds of the total amount and this will be the base and sides of the pie. The remaining pastry will form the lid. Roll out the base pastry into a circle shape on a lightly floured surface. The shape will need to be larger than your dish as it needs to form the sides of the pie also. Carefully lower this into the dish. Roll out the lid and set aside.

Mix the chicken, fennel mixture, mustard (if using), parsley and bechamel together. Take care when adding the bechamel. Add a little at a time to get an idea of how much you will need. Season the mixture with salt and pepper then fill the pie and top with the lid. You want the lid to overlap the sides of the pie dish. Crimp it down to make sure it is sealed. Cut a cross in the top with a knife and brush with the beaten egg.

Bake for 20-30 minutes at 200C until golden brown.

The other bloggers involved were Jeanne, who made these cupcakes and Mary-Rose, who made a roast chicken.

The photos above are used with the kind permission of Wieden and Kennedy and thanks to the whole team who were nothing but a pleasure to work with.

60 comments » | Pies

How I Learned to Love Tofu

February 3rd, 2010 — 10:17pm

The idea of tofu used to make me shudder. The mere mention of the word and I would turn my nose up and scoff something about it being a tasteless meat substitute eaten only by extreme hippy types like Neil from The Young Ones.

That was until I discovered ‘proper’ Chinese food – Sichuan food in particular. Ma Po Tofu was where I turned the corner. Tofu doesn’t actually taste of anything; on its own it is purely a texture, which is why the strong flavours of Sichuan cookery suit it so well. In the ma po, wobbly cubes are cooked with pork or beef mince, funky fermented black beans and numbing Sichuan pepper. I let the tofu into my life from the moment I tasted it.

From there of course I wanted more and started thinking about the best way to get it. If there’s one thing a healthy food needs, it’s fat; frying seemed like the obvious answer. I wanted a crisp, spicy coating and at first tried to achieve it using panko crumbs left over from my mac ‘n cheese but they didn’t stick particularly well and the crust turned out patchy.

It was then I remembered reading somewhere that toasted ground rice would create the crunch I was looking for, with a nutty flavour to boot. A handful of uncooked basmati tinkled into a dry pan and toasted before I pounded and pounded and pounded it for a good 15 minutes before giving in and handing it to my boyfriend. Here’s the thing: making your own ground rice in a pestle and mortar is seriously hard graft. The next day I found a bag of it in Khan’s Bargain Ltd. in Peckham – 59p. You live and learn.

It did meet expectations though; mixed with equal amounts of coarse salt, ground pepper and dried chillies, the tofu cubes are transformed into super savoury bites with a rather erm, ‘meaty’ quality.

Of course, crispy tofu, as good as it may be, does not a complete meal make. I plonked it on top of steaming rice and served it with stir fried kow choi – an oniony/chivey tasting vegetable picked up on a whim in Brixton, mixed with minced pork (recurring theme?), cabbagey Sichuan preserved vegetable and chilli bean sauce. I basically cooked it with the flavours of dry fried beans. It is now ranking high amongst my favourite vegetables. I’m an allium whore.

Tofu is a blank canvas. This is something I always knew but never accepted. It can be an ingredient in the most mundane stir fry recipe from the back of a Cauldron packet, or it can be celebrated, injected with flavours, treated with a little respect. By this I mean you have to season it right and then also remember to show it a little love in the prep stage – you can read that below.

So now of course I want to know what you’ve got up your sleeve. What’s your favourite way to cook/eat tofu?

Crisp and Spicy Tofu

1 block of extra firm tofu
2 tbsp ground rice
2tbsp coarse sea salt
1.5 tbsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp ground dried chillies
Groundnut oil, for frying

Here’s the important ‘showing it some love bit’  – line a plate with a double layer of kitchen paper and then put the tofu on top before covering with another double layer and then resting a plate or two on top. Leave it for 15 minutes. The idea is to draw out a lot of the moisture. That’s it!

Mix all the coating ingredients together. Cut the tofu into cubes and toss them in the coating mixture. Heat a 1 cm depth of oil in a heavy based pan and fry the tofu pieces until golden brown and crisp on all sides. You could of course deep fry it, but that is a bridge too far for me, quite frankly.

Kow Choi with Minced Pork

Heat 1 tbsp ground nut oil in a pan and fry 2 cloves chopped garlic, a 1 inch piece grated ginger, 1 heaped tbsp Sichuan preserved vegetable (rinsed and chopped) and 5 whole red chillies (halve them if you want it hotter) for 1 minute until fragrant. Add 1/2-1tbsp chilli bean sauce and a generous pinch of sugar, stir briefly, then add 250g kow choi (cut into inch long sections). Stir fry until wilted. Season with salt. Add a few drops of sesame oil to serve.

25 comments » | Sichuan, Tofu, Vegetables

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