A 396 g block of plain tofu in my local shop is £2.35. Thanks to absurd rules over ‘use by’ dates, I picked up six blocks at 30 p each. A year ago I was not a great fan of tofu (despite cooking a lot of vegan food and having lived in Japan for six months), but have been learning. The six blocks gave me opportunities for experimentation; this is the first.
14 oz (396 g) block of tofu (83% water, 17% soya beans [8.5 g protein/100 g])
garlic clove, whole, unpeeled
4 sage leaves
4 bay leaves
Preparation (~4 hours): Press the tofu as follows. Place the tofu on a couple sheets of kitchen towel, then a couple sheets on top, then a wooden chopping board on top, then a heavy weight such as a brick or cast-iron frying pan. Press until the volume is roughly halved.
Cut the block into thin (~1/8″) strips and blot on dry kitchen towel or a clean tea towel.
Heat ~1/4″ oil in a heavy, flat-bottomed frying pan. When hot (just below smoking point), add the garlic clove, sage leaves, and bay leaves (if you are using fresh herbs, they will spit a little as the water content boils). With a slotted spoon, remove the sage and bay leaves when they begin to blacken (keep for decoration); leave the garlic clove in the oil.
Put a couple sheets of kitchen towel on a large plate. Add the tofu slices to the hot oil, ensuring they are separated, and fry until crisp and brown on each side (use the slotted spoon and a knife to flip them over). Lift out with the slotted spoon and arrange radially on the plate. Intersperse the tofu slices with the bay and sage leaves; place the garlic clove in the centre.
Sprinkle with sea salt and serve immediately. (Can also be drained on kitchen towel, stored in a tin, and eaten cold.)